I’ve never observed my dogs and small children – together – in my home.
On many occasions and in various settings, Harley and Jaxson have interacted with children at –
- family gatherings
- outdoor public events
- working at the hospital
but never in their own home…
…until last week!
Since our return to Charleston over two years ago, grandnephews, and other babies have increased our family. I can’t lie, it’s been nice to hold and cuddle a baby while the Boys sniff then walk away disinterested.
Well these same babies have grown out of those adorable bundles of joy and now walk, run, and scream with excitement all on their own.
Items that belong to your dog now are of interest to these same children.
This is a whole new form of energy to introduce to the Boys. So when Kendall (4) and Mason (2) arrived at our front door for an unexpected but welcomed visit, I was cautiously curious of everyone’s behavior.
This would be the first time a toddler (the height of Jaxson’s head) walked through the house independently.
I laughed initially because neither one of them were afraid of the dogs, but Jaxson’s expressions were priceless. He followed Mason around as if he were a wind up doll. When Mason stumbled and lost his balance – Jaxson moved swiftly out of his way as if he was going to get blamed for “breaking him”…
Harley sniffed their bodies and decided he wasn’t interested because they weren’t edible (in the treat definition) so he took his unenthusiastic self to the other side of the kitchen and laid down…
KID FRIENDLY TRAINING –
When Harley and Jaxson became part of our family we weren’t in constant contact with children under the age of 5. Most of their little human friends were school age. I never really thought about training them to be “kid friendly.”
On those rare occasions when they were in the presence of a toddler – we were in someone else’s home. I watched them like a hawk AND I usually kept them leashed and next to me. This way I could supervise the visit.
Together dogs and children make a precious pair, yet how often have you heard or read that you were never – ever- EVER supposed to leave a dog alone with them – no matter how friendly the dog?
All dogs bite, so supervise your dog when you have children over.
With this in mind, once our quests arrived, for the first 30 minutes, everywhere Mason went, Jaxson followed, I followed Jaxson and Harley followed me.
Yes, we looked ridiculous walking, running, trotting through the house in single file.
Harley gave up first, and the thought of Danny Glover’s famous comedic phrase regarding Mel Gibsons behavior in the classic Lethal Weapon movie classics came to mind
I’m getting too old for this poop#heusedadifferentword
– so I sat my old behind down!
STRESS SIGNALS –
All dogs may not have the patience, temperament or personality to deal with young children.
If you’re like me – without – small children at home, no grand-babies yet, and neighbors almost as old as I am, you may not know what to look for.
I stumbled upon a really interesting article by Robin Bennett who shared excellent insight on the stress signals to look for in your own dog.
Robin suggests it may be time to intervene and separate the child from the dog if you see –
- Yawning – outside the context of waking up.
- Half-moon eye – this means you can see the whites on the other edges of their eyes.
- Lip licking – outside the context of eating foods.
- Watch for avoidance behaviors – moving away.
- Listen for growling – growling is a clue that your dog is giving you/them.
GOOD TIMES –
In regards to our half pint visitors, I am happy to report that good times were had by all.
Jaxson and Mason played the entire time…
Kendall was like David Copperfield – he appeared and then disappeared, never really very interested. Harley remained close to me, so when either child approached him, I used that moment as a training tool to educate them about slow movement, soft voices, and gentle touching.
I was not afraid Harley would harm either one of them. He is such a calm old Dood – he made for the pawfect model to demonstrate the importance about correctly approaching dogs especially since they had no fear of dogs.
I loved how gentle Jaxson was with Mason as they shared his favorite ball. See for yourself how well Jaxson negotiated getting the ball back from Mason…
Never did I ever believe either of my Boys would be afraid /dislike little children. But now I know they welcome them into their own space which makes me feel super comfy and ready for grandchildren – whenever that time comes.
KNOW YOUR DOG –
If you’re like me – experiencing a small child in your home for the first time – put on your sneakers and run around with them until you know your dog is okay (or you run out of gas like I did!). #somewhatofajokebutnotreally.
Should your dog show signs of fear – it is okay – please don’t push him/her.
Allow your dog all the time he/she needs to get comfortable around kids.
One or two things will occur, either your dog will –
- Approach the child at some point on his/her own terms
- Retreat and let you know he’s not interested.
Either way, you will know. Anyone else have additional advice to share?
Thanks so much for reading – come back again soon.
A dog may be man’s best friend, but a child’s best friend is a puppy ❤️