Dog Advice Regarding Kids

A friend with no children posted on Facebook yesterday that a child should never be allowed to do the following things, shown in photos. One was of a toddler sitting on the back of a big dog that was resting on the ground.

Ok, I admit it. My youngest sat on my old dog, Tess, in the kitchen when toddler was two and dog was 13 or so.  Tess was the mellowest dog I’ve ever owned.  It was okay with her, and I was supervising. It made for a cute photo, and it lasted a minute or so.

I’m in my sixties now and have owned or cared for a dozen dogs in my adult life.  Most of them were mixed breed rescue dogs, which seem to have more even temperaments than purebreds. We had a purebred miniature Dachshund and I now own a purebred Jack Russell Terrier, which has been given back twice. I’d never let any kid try to sit on her. In fact, she’s so scared of everything that she would probably go hide in a corner of my house if a toddler even entered it.

The neighbor girls sure love Daisy, the JR terrier. They loved to watch her play ball in the park and also loved using the launcher as they each took a turn, ages 10, 8, and 5. Those days are over. Daisy is no longer trusted to play ball in the park (see Daisy Gets a Rap Sheet).

Does that mean no dogs can ever play ball in the park? No, all dogs are not the same, or trained the same, or raised from puppies by the same owner.

Pepper, raised by me from puppyhood, lets me stick my fingers in her mouth because she was trained to have a soft mouth.

Daisy and Violet (my adult child’s Chihuahua mix), don’t have soft mouths because they were both adult dogs by the time we rescued them. I have to keep that in mind when I am passing out treats.

I have a dog on my street that lives in the garage. He might have pooped on the carpet once and got the boot out of the house. Unfortunately, the owner didn’t bother to work with the dog and train it to be allowed to be back inside. Or maybe the wife is a dog hater or allergic.

I took the 3 dogs to the beach while my child is on a trip. His dog had only been there once before. The first thing she did was poop in the house. Did I get mad at her? No, I just picked it up. She was stressed from 1) the car trip, 2) the new surroundings, 3) the fact that her owner wasn’t with us.  It’s three days later and she’s been back to doing her business outside since the one accident.

My kids dressed up the greyhound terrier, who sat for hours as patiently as can be. They took photos of her to pass the summer days. The dog didn’t mind. She loved my kids, the ones who petted her, gave her treats, walked her, and fed her. They were as gentle as could be with her, and she trusted them. However, when they had friends over, I didn’t allow that game. Throw in an extra kid, and everything changes.

I was a Girl Scout leader when the Dachshund was two. I had the troop over for an outdoor meeting. The Dachshund was inside behind the screen door. Somebody’s little sister was poking at him through the screen. He was getting agitated. I asked her to stop. She didn’t. Then someone went inside the house while I was busy leading an activity, and our little Dachshund got out and chased the girl around the yard. Her mother scooped her up. We all learned a big lesson that day.  Never again were the dogs allowed around other people’s children in a stressful situation (for them).

I learned that the dogs like to have a spot that is just theirs, where they can get away and have rest and peace. For the Greyhound it was a crate in the laundry room. For the Jack Russell it’s a dog bed by the sliding glass window where she can watch for birds, lizards, rats, etc. For the lab mutt, it’s her own ottoman that matched a big chair that is long gone.

Times I’ve been bitten by my dogs: 

Lab mutt – never – got her as a puppy,

JR terrier – when she was worried about the treat in my hand going to another dog

Chihuahua – same as above.

I learned to feed them and treat them far away from one another. Food is a competition thing in this house.

Cases where things went awry – my neighbor startled her old blind sleeping Beagle on a people bed. He jumped up and bit her in the face. She did not surrender the dog because she realized it was her own fault.

A step grandfather was babysitting his young grandchild (not too well) when the boy entered the unlocked garage where Grandpa kept two pit bulls. The boy was killed, and the man went to jail.

Another kid was mauled by two loose dogs in his neighborhood as he was walking.

Dogs are descended from wolves. They have a pack mentality.  If you don’t train them or train the people who interact with them, there will be problems. If you teach your family to be gentle and to treat the animals with the respect they deserve, you won’t have problems. If you remember that your children’s friends might not know how to act around a dog, you either have to train them as well, or keep the dogs contained.

Certain aggressive breeds should not coexist with children. Chow Chows, Rotweilers, German Shepherds, Pit bull terriers (Google it). I would add Jack Russell terrier to that list. Dachshunds are on the list, but Wiener lived to be almost 19 and only once chased a kid. He started training the following week, also because he was pooping in the house. (see Worst Best Dog Trainer Ever).

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