Dogs can make for the perfect family pet, and many breeds have a natural tendency to show bundles of love and affection towards their owners.

But even though canine companions can be a brilliant addition to the household, it's important that we're careful with our four-legged friends when it comes to our kids.

That's because young children don't always understand the behaviour of dogs, and sometimes aren't able to gauge their mood or temperament.

Whether it's being too heavy handed with smaller pooches, waking them up when they're asleep or behaving boisterously around older mutts, kids can accidentally make their pets feel anxious and uncomfortable.

And given that a stressed-out canine can potentially be a danger to youngsters, it's important that we ensure our little ones know how to treat their canine pals appropriately.

This means that supervising kids during the weeks when we first introduce a dog to the home is essential in helping them to understand the best way to behave around the pooch.

To begin with, it's a good idea to get children used to gently stroking their four-legged friend on the head or chest without grabbing them near the neck, as this can cause canines to feel threatened.

Similarly, kids need to realise that staring straight into a dog's eyes can be mistakenly considered as a sign of aggression by pooches, so this is something else that we should make our little ones aware of.

However, it's important that we don't make our children feel too nervous around our canine companions, as dogs will pick up on these negative feelings too.

So long as we can teach our youngsters to be considerate and caring around our pooches, we needn't worry too much about them causing a problem, although if you're particularly concerned there are certain breeds of dog that are more family-friendly than others.

And as our children get used to acting appropriately, there's no reason we can't let them feed the family mutt their premium dog food from time to time.

Written by: Hannah