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Teaching Children to be Caring and Understanding To Animals

It is not hard to instill into a child that it must sit down whenever it has food in its hand – or the food is taken away.
The child must learn respect and compassion for the dog, as well as the other way round.  My granddaughter has learned (through a lot of trial and error) to be good with the dogs, but she has just turned 3 years old, and sometimes she tries to treat Dooley (the mothering loving kind of dog) like a toy.  I keep an eye, but do little unless I have to (long gone the days of leaping in to remove fingers from eyes, or grabbing fistfuls of ear!), because Dooley will start to paw when she becomes uncomfortable with the interaction.
My granddaughter used to cry when she got caught by a paw, and tell me "Dooley keeps kicking me!”  She didn’t get any sympathy.  I told her that Dooley only kicks her (!!) when she is getting worried, so if she is kicking then my grandchild must be doing something wrong – and as she knows how to treat Drifter and Dooley, she must know that.  So, stop doing whatever it was that was causing Dooley to kick her!  I also tell her that Drifter will not tolerate her messing around with him, so don’t, or he will get grumpy!  She now has a healthy respect for Drifter – and a deep fascination – she considers him to be a challenge, but she is also very wary – and so she should be.  Drifter is a very good dog, but he is no sweet and gentle Dooley!
So, mutual respect and consideration from child to dog, and from dog to child.  When I hear the words "Oh, he’s a wonderful dog – the kids can do anything to him...”, MY hackles start to rise!  I think "you are very lucky – which is more than can be said for your long-suffering pooch ”.  Just because you CAN does not mean that you SHOULD.
But, to go back to my original point.  How do you avoid giving up your dog – and keep your child safe?
Never leave a child and a dog alone together.  No matter how bombproof the dog, there is always a breaking point – and you really don’t want the consequences of finding what that breaking point is.  Children have no concept of inflicting pain – their toys don’t get hurt – isn’t a dog the same? They need constant teaching, AND constant supervision.
Never mix children, food, and dogs.  If your child will not sit down to eat, either take the food away,(you child is not exempt from the consequences of unacceptable behaviour), or put the dog into another room.  Do this kindly – he has not done anything wrong.
Protect your dog from your child, and there will be much less need to protect your child from your dog.  If your dog knows he can rely on you to stop your child tormenting him (however innocent was the intention), and you can read his body language well enough to intervene and "rescue” him when the games with children are stressing him (remember,  a dog cannot say when he is tired or just has had enough – he can only try to escape, shut down – or bite), he will leave it to you to reprimand the child and stop the inappropriate behaviour.  If he can’t rely on you to help him he will just have to help himself – and that is NOT desirable.
Teach your child to care for vulnerable creatures – AND that however big and bouncy he is, their dog is one of these.  Instill compassion and kindness – it is not possible to be cruel (if you are normal) once you are made aware of your cruelty.  This will be a lesson which will stand your child in good stead throughout its life, and make him a better person.
Do this, THEN  buy "Why does my Dog Do That” By Caroline Spencer, follow the PDL method, and you will give your child and dog the chance of the most rewarding relationship EVER – and no sleepless nights for you!!

NOVEMBER 16TH, 2013 @ 13:08:40 GMT


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