DD 4 is going to get bitten by a dog...what should I do?

(49 Posts)
rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:02:43

She loves dogs and is not great at impulse control. So any time we are out and there is a dog (all the bloody time, I.e.) she takes off to pet the dog. First, this isn't safe and one day a dog is going to attack her. Second, it isn't fair to dog owners. No amount of explaining that the dog might not be friendly, that she shouldn't run off (also a problem at times) makes any difference. It's like she doesn't even hear us. So I have explained yet again, and told her that if it happens again I will have to put her in reins which she will hate.

I don't have any other options do I? She is often oblivious to instruction at the best of times, but this is a particular problem because it is dangerous and it is our responsibility. Most of these dogs are on leads, not just roaming free.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:10:43

Yes, we have friends with a dog and she isn't in any sense aggressive with the dogs and pets them gently. It's the fact that she runs up to them and won't come back when called. But she can't seem to get that whilst most dogs are ok some dogs are not friendly, so I have spoken to her today about what has happened and her response was 'but it was a nice dog, mummy'.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:14:36

Yes it is. Many things about her are quite frustrating...

InNeedOfBrandy Fri 26-Apr-13 16:18:02

I stress and stress and stress to my ds (who is 5 and sounds like your dd a couple of years ago) even now always walk up and always ask first. I think because most owners say yes and well done for asking now in his mind thats how you stroke dogs and asking has became routine now. It took ages of grabbing his hand and getting him to slow down and ask first though.

Wallace Fri 26-Apr-13 16:18:31

My ds2 is very similar. He is now six and it is almost drummed into him that he has to ask the owner before he strokes a dog.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:20:00

Good to know we are not alone at least...

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LookingForwardToMarch Fri 26-Apr-13 16:22:21

Reins...its just not worth it.

Our old dog was fine with adults but hated kids. We would tell parents if their kid came near him.

He had a muzzle on most times but not when we were just taking him out to do his 'thang'

He was not nasty. Any adult could stroke him. But very very nervous around children for some reason so therefore unpredictable.

Shudder to think what would have happened if an uncontrolled 4 yr old ran up to him.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:27:15

beer true, but it I am responsible for my dd, the dog owners aren't. Sanctions do work, but this is too unpredictable, you don't know when a dog might appear when you are out and about.

Slubberdegullion Fri 26-Apr-13 16:35:35

Lots and lots and lots of little conversations at neutral times during the day (when no dogs are in sight) about what she should do when she sees a dog. Get her to tell you what she needs to do rather than you just lecturing her. Let her visualise the new rule (whatever that might be... When I see a dog I stop and ask mummy if I can pet it, then we walk calmly over to the dog's owner, then I ask if I can pet their dog, then I stoke it gently down beside it's neck).

Repeat ad nauseum.

Praise like hell when she gets it even a bit right
'you asked the owner if you could stroke their dog, that shows you are very responsible and thoughtful'

filthypig Fri 26-Apr-13 16:37:09

try it from another angle - tell her that some dogs are frightened of people coming up to them, that they won't know she is friendly and she needs to ask the owner to make sure the dog won't be scared.

My DS2 LOVES dogs, always has, spent a year claiming he WAS a dog etc. Getting him to empathise with the dog did the trick in the end, he's fine with them now.

GoblinGranny Fri 26-Apr-13 16:37:53

Lots of talking and discussions, as slubberdegullion said.
But a wrist rein whilst that is sinking in.

Branleuse Fri 26-Apr-13 16:45:03

shout at her and say no if she does it, or keep her on reins till shes older.
If shes not getting it yet when you explain to her nicely, then you dont have much choice.

GoblinGranny Fri 26-Apr-13 16:46:49

I used to keep a wriststrap in my bag for DS. Most of the time it just stayed there, but sometimes he just overloaded with glee and excitement and it just wasn't safe for me not to be connected.

Timeforabiscuit Fri 26-Apr-13 16:50:42

There is a book called "don't lick the dog" which is really good.

Aimed at kids about "good dog manners"

Video of a bit being read

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 16:51:42

Shouting and saying no absolutely doesn't work, have tried it dozens of times grin

TigerSwallowTail Fri 26-Apr-13 16:55:26

Rather than putting her in reigns could you not just keep a good hold of her hand when you are out? DS is 6 and is a bolter too, although he doesn't like dogs so we don't have that danger he still runs away and gets lost. I need to keep a good hold of his hand whenever we're out as the minute I let go then that's him running off again.

If she gets annoyed by you holding her hand then explain every time why you need to do it and until you can trust her to act like a big girl (any mention of being a 'big boy' gets DS's attention!) and not run up to strange dogs then she can't walk on her own.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 17:02:13

tiger she's a bolter too...little but very very strong!

tazzle Fri 26-Apr-13 17:04:01

Echo others... since the frequency / risk is high....( Every time you go out ).. I would carry out the action you have already said will happen. ..reins. This in conjunction with the repeated discussion of "what we will do when we see a dog" before leaving house.... I woukd tell her that once she has shown she will walk slowly she can go without reins.

I empathise will the thought of her reaction to having reins on..... I well remember the screaming and kicking mine did at their appearance !

Def loadsa praise for calm apraches to reins and dogs .....

lurcherlover Fri 26-Apr-13 17:10:43

Definitely reins. My rescue dog is lovely with children in our house but very nervous when our on a walk. I never let him off the lead and keep him well away from children. If she ran up to him suddenly and tried to stroke him he would definitely bite her. Until she can learn some impulse control she definitely needs to be physically restrained from the dogs.

Well done OP - without wishing to sound patronising, thank-you for being so responsible. I have had to warn so many children away from my dog while their parents just smiled indulgently and let them run up to him without saying anything.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 17:21:16

lurcher dog owners are very tolerant, often more tolerant than ideally I want them to be! So mostly they will say, 'it's ok, dog is friendly', but that's not the point. If the dog is on a lead, then as far as I am concerned the owner has taken responsibility, their dog is restrained. They can't be held responsible if my dd isn't yet able to see beyond her own desire to stroke the dog.

Emperorsnewclothesshow Fri 26-Apr-13 20:52:56

Restrain her, hold her hand. Surely you are stronger than her?

If she runs away from you when she sees a dog you say she doesn't listen and doesn't stop? There must be a way to teach her to listen? Not sure how old she is, but threaten to put her in a pram? And if she tips really too old for that a consequence that she really doesn't like will follow?

You are the parent...

I feel for you, trying to get on top of my 3 year olds behaviour.. Am also another one saying dogs can't be trusted, unless you had them yourself since small.

Also, some dogs may react even worse to strangers approaching when on a lead... It's a territorial thing about them and their owners. We always had dogs and I know them quite well... Not letting my kids run up to them.. There are also those owners who say "ohh he is a very kind dog..." And then - snap.

Well, good luck!

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 21:03:05

No, she doesn't listen and doesn't stop because her whole focus is on the dog. If you know a magic way to make her listen, you could patent it. She is 4 so pram not an option as occupied by dd2.

Agree about dogs on leads, they are cornered, of course. Owners can't necessarily predict how a dog will respond either.

This has been most useful. I have a plan now, which is part of a more general effort to tackle elements of her behaviour. Thanks for everyone's input and understanding.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 21:04:34

emperor sorry, that sounded snitty, it wasn't meant to. But I have just spent about 25 minutes putting her back into time out over and over, which is the extent to which she doesn't think I mean what I say. Work to do, work to do...

InNeedOfBrandy Fri 26-Apr-13 21:12:31

wrist reins?

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 21:15:05

I think wrist reins as back up if she won't comply with Plan A

InNeedOfBrandy Fri 26-Apr-13 21:34:04

OP I really can't stress enough how it helped my son to have his "routine" as such that whenever he saw a dog he had to ask the owner if he could stroke it and when he didn't listen he didn't get to stroke it. It really is second nature now to him and this is a boy who tried to reach out yesterday to touch a moving bus impulsively.

cathpip Fri 26-Apr-13 21:40:53

Do you have a friend/acquaintance who has a nice dog that your dd has not met? Idea being that you could accidentally bump into friend and dog and when your dd rushes up your friend could step in front of her dog and give your dd a telling off etc etc (am only thinking nice dog so it does not startle) Have done this with a friend and his ds, worked a treat as I know it doesn't really help when people say oh its alright he is friendly, because as you rightly said its not the point!

Mspontipine Fri 26-Apr-13 21:46:36

I was that child too - I remember getting badly bitten on the nose during a Saturday shopping trip - still didn't stop me! A beautiful innocent looking Andrex puppy sat outside a shop gave me a nasty nip years later.

I do, now, ask the owner 1st - I'm in my 40s :-)

Thewildthingsliveatmyhouse Fri 26-Apr-13 21:59:19

Just wanted to add that as a dog owner I am really pleased to see responsible people teaching their children manners around dogs, same as we teach our dogs manners.

I was at the park with the dc's and 2 dogs a couple of weeks back. A little boy came bounding over, he was about 3 and my dogs were on leads. He came running up and started to pet the dogs. I did have a word and told him and various family members who were stood watching him that he should always ask the owner because some dogs are not very friendly. They all gave me a filthy look and completely ignored me. Accident waiting to happen if you ask me!

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 22:07:48

I also don't want dog owners thinking that I am not at least trying to be responsible. On the few occasions where an owner has said specifically that she shouldn't pet the dog, she has complied. She knows to steer clear of a couple of dogs on the street and that muzzled dogs are to be given a very wide berth. It's the impulsive moment where she sees a dog Ad makes a beeline for it, possibly because we keep telling her not to. I think the setting up of cleAr rules around it might work, but with sanction of reins in the meantime

Lala29 Fri 26-Apr-13 22:50:22

I like the idea of trying to make her see it from the dog's point of view. I don't agree with trying to scare her into listening to you (ie telling her about sharp dog teeth etc). I would just approach it in the same way as you teach please and thank you. All that matters is that she asks the owner permission, so just keep repeating it and if she runs up to one, try to catch up, grab her hand and ask the owner for her (or make her ask).
I have a toddler who is obsessed with dogs and am also tn owner of a very old dog who kids love (even though she is one of those man eating staffies). She is absolutely fine with all people and children, but she is deaf and half blind, so gets spooked by some that approach her suddenly. I have told kids off before for not asking, but I feel awkward doing it if parent is within ear shot and making no effort to teach them manners and so keep quiet. So big thank you to you for trying to tackle the problem.

rhetorician Fri 26-Apr-13 23:01:03

You know what, we have 2 dog puppets that my mum made for her, called, wonderfully, Sprout and Flower. We could role play. She'd enjoy that.

MaterFacit Sat 27-Apr-13 00:20:21

DS (3.5) responded well to a gentle discussion about how dogs (and cats) get tired and grouchy and sore just like humans do and sometimes they don't want to be touched. He has an older sister who occasionally bites [sigh] when she has had enough of him and he knows mummy gets grumpy when she is tired and daddy gets grumpy when he is hungry. He has had enough bumps etc to know they hurt if they get knocked and we reminded him of that.

Then I explained that dogs can't use words to tell you if they are sad or sore or frightened so you have to ask the owner first. Now DS will stand still and gently hold out his hand for the animal to sniff and if it doesn't respond by moving closer he will happily leave the 'sad' dog or cat alone. If the dog is tied up and there is no owner he knows he mustn't touch it and he is getting pretty good at stopping his scooter when dogs go past so they don't get frightened. It took a few weeks of gentle reminders but it sunk in pretty quickly.

The puppets sound like a good plan, perhaps one could be sad or grouchy and the other could be happy and willing to be stroked? But she has to ask the owner first so the sad doggy doesn't get any sadder?

MiaowTheCat Sat 27-Apr-13 08:57:42

Thank you for at least trying. I've got two big dogs - with necks right at child-cuddle height and kids running up is a bloody nightmare - especially when they launch into a huge neck grab cuddle as well.

One of mine is a total licker and I've been bawled out more than once by a parent who's let their child come bowling up and cuddle the dog, and its been reciprocated by a huge lick across the cheek... and I've had a gobful of abuse about it! At least when they ask I can say "yes, it's fine but she might well give you a huge big lick back" and forewarn a little bit.

rhetorician Sat 27-Apr-13 10:14:56

No problem with licks!

matana Sat 27-Apr-13 13:30:28

My step daughter was just the same. We tried explaining from another perspective that some dogs get very scared of children and some dog owners don't like their dogs being scared by children so she should always ask the dog owner first. That did the trick and she always asked from then on and accepted it if she was told the dog didn't like children. If she bolted towards one we just shouted after her "don't forget to ask first". Ds is just the same but a bit young to understand he should ask first, so we have to shadow him closely everywhere instead. I don't want him to be scared of dogs so will try the same approach when he's old enough.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Sat 27-Apr-13 13:33:13

Well done you for being such a thoughtful and considerate parent. thanks
That is all I wanted to add.

rhetorician Sat 27-Apr-13 13:39:09

This morning we went to the local shops and I told her exactly what she had to do if she saw a dog, and that I would give her a chocolate button if she did it. Cue two little dogs, and one little girl calmly asking owners if she could pat them!! They looked a bit surprised! She was very pleased with herself and we had a conversation in the way home about how you couldn't tell. It is worth the price of a couple of choc buttons. So result!

rhetorician Sat 27-Apr-13 13:39:59

Also good for DD as she is not always very confident asking questions etc of people she doesn't know, so good for her confidence too. Am thrilled with her

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bakingtins Sat 27-Apr-13 18:25:52

Another resource to try is "The Blue Dog" website which uses a series of animations to teach young children about dog body language and the situations that it's not safe to approach, aimed at dog bite prevention in young (preschool and primary) children.

Bakingtins Sat 27-Apr-13 19:14:03
MoelFammau Sat 27-Apr-13 19:28:20

I agree with trying to get the child to empathise with the dog. Our dog is a rescue dog who was horrifically beaten and starved. She's lovely but very nervous of sudden gestures. She looks like a muppet though so is very magnetic to small children.

I always get down between fast approaching child and dog and say 'you need to be very gentle with her, she was smacked a lot by nasty men and is very frightened if you move fast'. This always results in the child being very sympathetic and kind. It certainly slows down the bulldozer kids.

Just about to link to The Blue Dog but bakingtins beat me to it!
Great resource!

DuchessFanny Sat 27-Apr-13 19:54:23

Glad it went well rhetorician i know from experience how hard it can be to get the message across, but so very worth it !

TwllBach Sat 27-Apr-13 20:12:44

Another flowers from a dog owner here. My dog is lovely, but she is a nervy collie. Although she's got no malice in her whatsoever, she's very bouncy and very keen to play. I've worked hard on her recall and her watch me and sit and stay to avoid embarrassing situations with others, but children running up to her do excite her and she literally shakes with it. I'm terrified she will knock a small child over and have been known to give approaching children the death stare blush I would love to see more people like you on my walks!

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