I see a lot of cute pictures of kids and their dogs all over the internet. Sometimes I "awww" but there are often times where I cringe. Most people see the darling baby holding the jowls of the faithful family dog, laughing in glee. It looks like a happy photo right? Sometimes, not so much.
There are subtle signs that dogs give us when they are stressed and unhappy. They may look away from the child, or show the whites of their eyes while they look at or even away from them. They lick their lips and/or become restless, they may even pull away. When these warnings are misunderstood or ignored, it can escalate to growling, snapping in the direction of the child, and finally - the bite. When I see photos of family dogs looking obviously uncomfortable as the baby climbs all over him, I worry for the possible negative outcome down the road.
All this negative humdrum sounds odd coming from from me, I know, but it is because I was aware of this issue that I took some serious thought and planning to make our household as safe as possible.
As much as I trained Buddha, I trained our daughter, too. She never hits him, climbs on him, rides him, or forces him to do anything. Buddha never nips, jumps, wrestles, or bosses Siena around. They are both very respectful of each other. I think the beauty in Cutie and the Beast is that they chose each other. It is heartwarming to see Buddha follow Siena around and nuzzling her at every chance he gets or when Siena, at three years old, share happily with her bff.
I want to stress that parents need to train their kids and not just their dogs when it comes to any interaction between the two. I've had an equal share of obnoxious dogs AND kids who have no idea how to properly behave when meeting Siena or Buddha. Dogs need early socialization and bite inhibition training. Kids need to be taught how to ask before petting strange dogs and being calm during introductions. It's not usually the dog's fault, but unfortunately the young child who unknowingly provokes a negative outcome. It is up to the us, the parents/owners to be aware of what our furry companions are trying to tell us.