Dogs and children

This child wanted desperately to meet Luke and Elsa.  The mother was amazing and stepped in to show him how to do it.  I also reigned Elsa in to control her exuberance. 

A discussion on one of my Facebook groups has inspired this blog. I've written about dogs and children many times and I will continue to do so.  I cannot tell you how many times a post has come across my feed detailing a dog bite inflicted to a child.  Who then is blamed?  The dog.  

I am a mother and a grandmother and I adore dogs, obviously.  I love dogs in general; as a species and not just poodles.  I find them utterly fascinating; watching and reading canine body language runs to my core, it is who I am.  After years of training people and their dogs I have a lot of experience.  

One of my most common and recurring calls from many clients sounds like this "I think the dog is going to bite my child."   So out I go to meet the family; the parents, child and dog.  After a general greeting I sit and ask questions.  The entire time I am asking questions, I am watching.  The answers to the questions contain far less information than what is playing out before my eyes.

There have been several times when I've had to jump up and stop what was unfolding before me.  Indeed the family dog was going to bite the child.  But why?  Because the parents don't step in and discipline the child.  A child who continues to annoy a dog; climbing on, pulling at or simply interacting without parental intervention may very well be disciplined by the family dog. 

So who's at fault?  The parent carries 100% of the blame.  How many times have I heard "my dog would never."  No one should EVER say NEVER with regards to their dogs behavior.  Dogs are not robots; they are living creatures with boundaries and limitations.  Sadly most people don't get this.  

Even a quick and low level disciplinary action from a dog can be extremely dangerous.  If you do not protect your dog from children, then you fail them.  

                                Please understand this.  

If you do not stop your child from annoying your dog you are giving your dog the go ahead to discipline the child themselves.  

I am extremely cautious when children are in the company of dogs.  I do not care how amazingly wonderful a dog is when children are involved.  Things happen and dogs can react.  Just because a dog does not want to have a child sit on them or pick at their feet does not make that dog a bad dog.  Actions are the only way a dogs has to stop a child who is being left unsupervised by an adult.  

Children do not hear or heed warning signs.  Low growls, frozen posture, licking lips or whale eyes.  They continue on with their desire to interact and the dog is forced to take action.  Why?  Because the adult in charge was not paying attention or did not intervene.  

I do not want to hear anyone EVER say "that dog is going to bite you if you don't stop."  I have heard this too many times.  If you think that a dog is going to bite a child; it most certainly is.  Why?  Because you are not stopping the child.  You should not put the responsibility of not being bitten on the child.  "Stop that or else."  You need to stop the child, bottom line.  

It is our job to teach our dogs how to properly interact with children.  It is also our job to teach our children how to interact with dogs appropriately.  We are guardians; the ones who take care of both our dogs and children.  If you cannot watch all interactions between the two then put your dog away somewhere safe.  

It takes only a moment for a catastrophic accident to happen.  Sadly some accidents are just waiting to happen from a lack of supervision and intervention.  Don't have a lackadaisical attitude when children and dogs are together.  There should always be an extremely high level of caution and safety; no matter what dog it is.

The worse thing you can ever do to your dog is not respect them enough to protect them.  Don't be one of those people who think that your dog would never.  Don't be one of those people who think your child would never.  They can and they do, both of them.