It is very rare that I have a rant. I’m generally a pretty laid back easy going kinda dog. But…. last week mum and I read something on a pretty popular parenting website about best dog breeds for families. In itself that is misleading. Physically some dogs may have some traits that may be concerning but in general all breeds of dogs can make great family members. However, that wasn’t the bit that really got my shackles up. No it was a list of 4 things on “How to keep your kids safe around dogs”. On this link is their article and their list.
Now mum is no expert in dog training but there were a couple of things that she was really concerned were missing:
1. Respect: yes I need to respect that the toddler is a member of our pack, but more so the toddler has learnt to respect me. I think this is one of the greatest gifts I can bring her as she grows up sharing the house with a pet. That respect includes empathy (a huge deal when she is older and needs emotional intelligence skills) and understanding boundaries. Toddler is regularly taught to not go near me when I am eating. While yes as the article suggests mum can take my food away and I will sit and wait for it to be returned, by teaching toddler respect it will keep her out of danger if she is around another animal and respect of other humans and their belongings and also feelings.
2. Responsibility: this goes for both the toddler and more importantly the example set by mum. Only today did we see 2 gorgeous little 1 yo Cavoodle pups on a facebook page that had been taken to a shelter because the family, with 4 children, realised they were unable to look after them. We don’t know the details behind their story but at a topline level, not fair on these dogs who have been put in a position of having their family not want them and needing to find a new home. Having a dog is a lot of responsibility and mum refers to me as the other toddler. Yes mum does put more training into me than most people would a family pet but let’s be serious that having a dog is taking on another living being. Not only do we need food, fresh water and shelter but we also need physical exercise and mental stimulation. Mum involves toddler as much as possible with looking after me and teaching and talking to her about the responsibility of looking after me. This will involve us all going for a walk together in the afternoon, toddler helping to feed me and her being around to see what is involved day to day. Toddler has also been taught some basic words and hand signals from training although at the point in time I am choosing to ignore her. So the responsibility is equally on the adult humans to train any dog they bring into their home and keep them physically exercised and mentally stimulated. That will help keep kids safe around a dog rather than the horrible stories you hear and read of the dog who has been tied up in the backyard and then is blamed when something happens. I hope that learning about responsibility by growing up with me will put her in good stead for lots of other aspects in life, not only hopefully having a dog of her own one day but also relationships with other humans, jobs, buying a home and who knows what else.
This was never intended to be a conclusive list but just a couple of things that we felt were missing from this article. Let’s put a bit less emphasis on the dog’s behaviour… we are dogs after all, and more focus on owners doing the right thing by the dog and children so we can all live happily together.
Also strongly refute the point about bedrooms….Respect everyone has different opinions on this and love that I am allowed into the bedrooms. In fact beside naps on the bed one of my favourite things is a bedtime when mum reads toddler what is referred to as “The Bodhi Book”. This gorgeous story called “The Way I Love You” not only looks like me but pretty much sums up my relationship with toddler. It gets mum a bit teary every time she reads it. Toddler now insists I lay on her bed when we read it just like in the book (sorry for spoiling the ending)…. ahhhh… she is a good kid!
So there you have it…. I think that is my 1st ever 1st World Dog rant but one I feel I needed to have. I hope dogs out there have their own fun little toddlers to hang out with.
I can only hope that when I have a toddler, I will be doing just as great a job as mom. It’s probably harder to work with a toddler than a dog. 🙂 Doesn’t mean that the dog should be neglected, like you have pointed out.
Awww Donna…. Mum is just passionate that family pets are jut that… a member of the family. They shouldn’t just be discarded when not convenient. We are a bog commitment and people should understand that in the first place…. and then use having a pet as a wonderful opportunity for little humans to learn great life skills such as responsibility and respect.
I totally agree with you I think every child should have pets and parents who teach them to respect and care for them. My childhood was filled with pets and my children had pets, too. They teach us responsibility, compassion, and unconditional love besides being great fun!
Completely agree Linda…. love the love.
Good rant! especially about the need for training. so many people don’t put the hard yards in and then keep it up – so important for everyone’s happiness:)
As an ex-obedience trainer, good for you.
Children must be taught not to poke digs in the eyes, pull their ears and all the other things kids seem to love to do.
A dog is a dog with lots of natural instincts. Children need to be taught hiw to behave just as much as the dog does.
Thanks Robyn. Appreciate the feedback from someone who has worked with dogs from more professional stance. It just seemed crazy to me that the original post was on such a popular blog without putting more responsibility on teaching the kids too. Thanks for your comment.
Was always one of our lectures! 🙂
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Hey Bodhi, good on you for standing up for canines everywhere! I just read the article you refer to and it’s incredibly misleading! Had I read it sooner I too may have had a rant 🙂 as far as babies/toddlers and dogs are concerned, my advice is supervise or separate. Of course children need to be taught respect for animals and appropriate behaviour around them, I totally agree. The thing is tho, little people still test boundaries and make mistakes, and any dog regardless of breed or temperament can bite given the right situation. Too often the poor dog gets the blame when they were set up to fail. It helps if owners can prepare their dogs prior to the arrival of a new baby to make the whole situation a bit less anxiety-provoking for them, I just interviewed veterinary behaviourist Dr Lewis Kirkham about this here http://creatureclinic.com/interview-lewis-kirkham/
Hi Jo – yeah read your article and forwarded to a few friends (one with a couple of furkids and now expecting 1st human kid). Absolutely agree. Supervise or separate… Learning respect is critical but yep toddler (3 in the next fortnight) is really testing boundaries so mum is especially vigilant. Hope more people get the message and there are less of those horrible incidents.
Great rant and also great comment by Jo – when I was pregnant with my first child, Sara I used that book called Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant: An essential guide for dog owners who are expecting a baby. It was really helpful and came with a baby sounds and toy noises. Max (my fur child!) took some time to get used to the sounds but the book helpd on how to do it. It gave me advice on what changes will occur and how to prepare my Max for them. It also talked about the causes for aggression and why it might occur and how to avoid it. It is written by a vet behaviorist too so it cover health issues as well – I got it from http://www.babyandpet.com.au – It also prepared my bub for the toddler years too!
Hi Imogen – Jo over at Creature Clinic had Dr Lewis do a guest post about his book this week. So great to hear it worked for you. Check out Jo and Dr Lewis’ post if you get a chance. I’m sure they would love to hear your good experience..http://creatureclinic.com/interview-lewis-kirkham/
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