We need to speak up.. for the dogs. In the last 2 weeks.. read carefully.. my rescue has gotten 5 surrender applications over children. Three bites to the face and 2 - no children around yet but people have assumed (or know) there will be a problem.
So what got these dogs in this mess?
Due to the fact I’m ‘the crazy dog lady,’ I constantly am bombarded with news feed post and tags of dogs and children. And honestly, there are many times I simply cringe.
The lack of common sense or simply the education is the clear problem here.
Let’s start with the dog
Often we spend little time handling our canine companion. Realistically the number of people who go over their dog regularly from head to toe are rare... Never mind starting this when you're pregnant because morning sickness bombards life and all the other greats joys of motherhood.
Touching a dog all over is important for so many things including grooming, an exam for their veterinary appointment etc. Having a dog make handling a constant and positive exercise needs to be in their daily structured routine.
Now let’s talk about space.
This is honestly where I become near irate and close Facebook. I see the MANY signals, avoiding eye contact *kid approaching* and then the tongue flick *child sits beside dog* then comes the yawn and a few more flicks with eye contact directing at child now. STOP HERE… Now is the time to do something!
Don’t just sit there and continue on your Ipad or the dishes.. save your dog's life or save them from being uprooted from their home. If you continue on what will likely happen is the dog is going to lick the child a bunch and get up and walk away.
This is not "affection" and it’s so often thought of in this manner, I want to educate everyone so they can have their dog stay with them and save me some time to help other dogs!
How about touch.
Some dogs are much more sensitive to their space than others. I know my golden retriever would likely allow my child to ride him like a horse or look in his mouth or pull his hair. I can tell you that I find this so inappropriate and never under any circumstance allowed in our household.
In fact, my children have gone through periods of their lives where they are not allowed to touch our dogs, now my son is currently 11 months and in the stage of grabbing and smacking. It’s clearly unrealistic for him to determine that this action is wrong - it’s up to a guardian to prevent this from happening.
How about kissing and hugging? Again I love my dogs and my children and I want them to live in harmony so why risk making my dog uncomfortable? I commonly hear ‘he loves the kids’! We have one dog in our home who would, in fact, protect, adore and cherish our children, again I know she would love to cuddle and even get hugs. But the day she becomes sick or injured this could change in an instant resulting a possible euthanasia or rehoming. These are not options in my household because I don’t allow them to be.
Finishing covering the dog side of things.
They can’t tell you they are sick or hurt or uncomfortable. It’s your job to watch and become more aware. It’s not fair for the dog to become the victim in which he had no other way to stop what was occurring at that moment.
I must say I find it very difficult to hear ‘he bit once so now we can’t trust him’. Every bite happens for a reason. Whether it was appropriate or not – I wasn’t there to tell you.
But almost all are the lack of education for the dog or child. Letting your child be alone with a dog is not OK. Allowing a child to grab a dog to stand up is also not OK.
Now to parenting.
I’m sure this will make people somewhat uncomfortable but please know we all make mistakes! Including me a mother of two! No one is perfect and I’m not asking you to be. There are many days I’m tired, we have two babies and currently 4 dogs. Have I slacked off? You bet I have! Have I let things go I normally wouldn’t? Trust me when I say I’ve had my share of very early mornings and extremely frustrating nights.
So let’s make a solution. When these days occur there are all the following; crates to keep everyone separate, x pens or playpens for dog and child. Separation, when you can’t monitor, is critical. I can say I don’t even get a coffee and leave my kids and dogs together. The trust in my dogs is there - the trust in my baby and toddler is not.
Lastly.. and most common.
Frustration level. It’s much too rare to have a consult for training where a dog is getting enough exercise. So I put it like this: How would you feel if you never left your property for weeks on end. You ate the same meal, watched the same episode on TV. You wore the same colour and met the same family members who couldn’t respect you.. how long could you go before becoming irate? Upset? Now think of your dog!
There are days I’ve made it 2 minutes out the door before I’ve had to turn around and change a diaper or deal with a tantrum but I made time! Many times I’ve gone 15 minutes and had to turn around and head home but hey! We went right?? And often we all have a great pack walk with a happy toddler jumping in the mud and a baby on my back giggling.
The structure and consistency I’ve created often make me so proud when I see my toddler go to sit on or hit my dog and refrain, it makes me so incredibly happy I cannot explain the emotion. And the days I get up from the couch to move my son away from my dogs is often in the double digits!
Don’t shy away from this - it can be done and I’m prepared to help you!! So kids and dogs are great, I never thought I’d say the first was cool as my dogs but I adore them all!
Never hesitate to reach out to April, she's there to help you with all your canine troubles.