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Children, Dogs and Respect

Kids, Dogs and Respect

Having dogs and children together can make a really good team, or it can be a mix that is heading for confusion and liable to prolonged feelings of negativity on behalf of the dog. What we might think are considered as the proper actions towards the dog, the dog might not actually see them as being polite at all in their own eyes.

Unfortunately quite often its only when things have escalated that we then realise

A common issue is that it boils down to how much respect we actually ask from our children when around dogs.

Whilst it uncommon for severe bite incidents where children are concerned, the dogs limits are being pushed on a daily basis, this might be in an affectionate way but its happening far too often.

Back when my daughter was younger, she was the one person that I really needed my dogs to respect the most. And I also insisted that my daughter totally respected my dogs.

I’m certainly not wanting my dog to submit to my command when I’m wanting a dog to respect a child. I’m wanting my dog to see that child as a good, predictable and nice person who they can be aware and gentle around.

To earn your dogs respect is – you said it – treat your dog like you want your dog to treat the child.

Dogs will pick up on the way that different people interact with them as they have high social intelligence, they will make mental notes of how nice, consistent and predictable someone is with their interactions towards them, and then they will adjust their behaviour accordingly around those people.

Here’s some common and impolite actions that we see from children who are interacting with dogs:

It is certainly not okay for any child to run after a dog.

The amount of times I have witnessed children tumbling after a dog, with the dog moving away, lip licking and squinting their eyes.

Oh, but they’re just chasing each other, they’re playing!

A dog is totally unable to say to a child when the game of chase ends, apart from just walking off. Which sadly to a child it looks very similar to the dog taking apart in the game. Both the children and parents think that both child and dog are having a great time, desperately the dog tries to get out of the situation without anything escalating.

Unfortunately, the dog will need to escalate.

If you allow your child to behave like this then your dog will end up seeing your child as being predictable.

It is absolutely not acceptable for a child to fasten anything to the dog.

Don’t allow children to dress up the dog. Don’t allow your child to attach leads, harnesses or collars to your dog just for fun. If you want your dog to appreciate your children’s freedom around them then you need to teach your children to respect the dogs.

There just isn’t any point in your dog being lead around in your house by the lead. Observe your dogs face and body language, Your dog might put up with it, but this is definitely not a game for your dog.

Allow consent which is happy not just tolerance.

As the child is scrambling all over the dog and pulling at the dogs ears and mouth, “Oh my dogs just so tolerant”. In this actual case tolerant means “your dog really doesn’t like it, but your dog actually chooses not to escalate the circumstances. (well as of yet).”

If your in two minds to whether an interaction between your child and your dog is going to be okay, here is an easy idea: Think about it this way. Would it be alright if someone else's child was allowed to do this to your child?

If thinking about your child being on the floor with someone else’s child sitting on their back pulling at your child’s ears makes you feel really bad, then your dog is probably feeling exactly the same way being in this awful situation.

With child and dog interactions then always strive for consent that is happy. Tolerance isn’t enough.

Your dog sat all excited waiting for the ball to be thrown by a child? That is consent that is happy. Your dog waiting with their tail wagging like mad as your child goes and gets your dogs favourite chew? That’s consent that is happy.
Your dog is shaking their head from side to side, yawning and licking their lips as your child is repeatedly trying hug them? That is disrespectful, rude, definitely unnecessary and totally unfair on your dog.

When it comes to our dog and expecting complete tolerance from them, why don’t we demand a high level of respect from our children towards dogs. Teaching children about kindness, compassion and respect, towards dogs (and other animals) will happily be returned due to the kind hearted way they are treated.

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