These sweet images of Keaton and Sage may look effortless and easy. A child and dog loving each other as they “should” be. Well.. this is the result of a lot of behind the scenes hard work. Don’t be fooled, managing kids and dogs is an ongoing, attentive process they everyone in the family group needs to pay mind to.
We supervise every interaction and have corrected inappropriate behavior by interrupting and showing appropriate behavior. Keaton is not allowed to mess with the dogs, and the dogs are now allowed to mess with him. I'm going to repeat that.. Keaton is NOT ALLOWED TO MESS WITH THE DOGS ever under any circumstances. We play mutually fun games and are always paying attention to our dogs behavior to ensure they are comfortable with the current situation. Just like humans, dogs learn from their experiences. Their only form of communication is through body language. If their body language changes, they’re trying to communicate. If you’re not listening and watching, you will miss it.
A little while ago I was out walking with a dog training client and we stopped to talk to a neighbor. We were exchanging fun dog stories when the mom on 1 toddler said something like.. my dog is so dumb she I don't understand why she doesn't stick up for herself and finally bite my son. Naturally, this seriously peaked my interest for a number of reasons.. She proceeded to tell us how they allow their two-year-old to "beat on" their dog. Her words, not mine. When I asked her to define "beat on", she explained how the toddler body slams her while she’s sleeping in her bed, squeezes her up against the wall and will run over her and tackle her. She said they’re waiting for their dog (who is ten pounds lighter then the toddler) to bite him so he learns his lesson.
Needless to say, I told her everything that was on my mind, which was A LOT. I kindly began to describe how simple it is to manage these situations and imperative it is to not allow these situations to occur. Her dog will run out of patience soon enough. Her son will think you can treat any dog this way thus makes a recipe for disaster when he visits other homes who have dogs and this is entirely unfair to her dog. She unfortunately didn't really care to hear my suggestions and said you can’t tell a two year old to do anything and ignored me by justifying that her dog lives a wonderful happy spoiled life.
I beg to differ. This is abuse and months later I am still sick to my stomach just thinking about the torment that poor dogs is doing through.
I don’t judge any parent. This stuff is HARD. It takes constant observation, managing. reassessing and I am fully aware there are many types of children out there that can make listening to directions difficult. But as a parent and dog owner you must take responsibility to protect both your child and your dog. You cannot allow mistreatment. If you can’t stop your child or dog, then you can separate them and call a trainer for assistance.
That mother is allowing her toddler to abuse her dog. She’s waiting for her dog to bite him instead of parenting him. She’s showing her dog she will not help her, the dog is on her own. Soon enough, this dog will “bite out of no where” and who knows what after that. The toddler could get hurt. Everyone loses because the parents made a choice not to listen.
We can do better. Let's do better!
Ah-ha Moments on Managing Kids & Dogs