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How do you feel about dogs and children?(19 Posts)
I am setting up my own dog behaviour business and am thinking about doing 1-2-1 training/appropriate behaviours with kids and their dogs. If you have both can you tell me how you feel about them interacting and especially any worries you have?
I think the biggest worry I'd have would be young children not knowing about dog behaviour and how they signal how they're feeling. A lot of children may not be able to understand the subtle signs a dog may show before it bites - whale eyes, ears pinned back, lip licking etc, hell, even adults don't notice these signs. I see too many 'cute pictures' posted by parents of their clearly uncomfortable dog placed next to a baby or young child, kids teasing a dog by pulling its ears/tail, sitting on the dog, hugging the dog tightly.. And then when the dog finally snaps from the stress, it gets PTS.
Children should always be supervised with dogs, of any size. Large, powerful dogs can have strong bites and can cause a lot of damage to a child. There is also the risk of them knocking children over inadvertently and injuring them. Small dogs may be accidentally hurt by rough handling or tripping up over them. Dogs of any size may feel threatened/overexcited by young children - who are often noisy, unpredictable and move around quickly. Children may not understand that it's not okay to bother a dog while it's eating or to try and remove a chew/toy that it has.
Kids and dogs can absolutely be wonderful together but it's up to the parents to supervise and be aware of dog behaviour, as well as educating their children on how to appropriately interact with a dog. That includes telling them never to touch/approach a stranger's dog without asking the owner if it's okay to do so first.
I think that's a brilliant idea. I'm assuming you'd be doing it with at least one parent sitting in.
So many people - adult dog owners - seem to be completely unaware of the meaning behind the signals dogs give out when they're not happy/comfortable with a situation so I think, whilst it's a great idea for the children, it's something that a lot of the parents would benefit from knowing as well.
You only have to look on You Tube at the endless videos of 'cute' children climbing all over, obviously, very stressed out dog to understand that when people claim 'he gave no warning' when a child is bitten, that they had no idea their child was driving the dog to resort to it's only defense to protect itself when it's, to the dog, clear warnings went unheeded.
Brilliant TeacupRex thanks. That's exactly what I think. Facebook and YouTube give me the fear when watching what people allow their children to do to dogs. That along with punishment based training methods means that so many dogs can be miserable around kids and no one notices.
Training with DC sounds like a great idea. Dogs vary so much with what they will tolerate or even enjoy that it's well worth showing people how to recognise the signs of anxiety or concern in a dog, and to give them some idea of what their particular dog is telling them.
Fantastic idea! Teaching children how to be around any animal is a great idea. I purposefully got a basset as they are great with kids (ours is) but it's still important for kids to know what is or isn't ok with how to treat animals.
When I first started puppy training our trainer gave me a hand out with cartoon pictures of different dog expressions and what they mean. DS and I would spend a lot of time reading our pups expressions and very small signals. Then trying to apply them back so that pup could read us. It was great fun and thought is to really spot the smallest signs, DS still applies some of the signs when talking to pup three years down the line. He is now 10 and pup and DS have a great relationship, they love and trust each other.
I think it should be compulsory training for anyone bringing a dog into a house with children! Great idea.
The biggest fear for me is that dog training and behaviour is an unregulated industry.
I would want to see what
qualifications you have before letting my children anywhere near any dog that is not my own.
I never let my children interact with dogs I don't know well because people frequently cannot recognise the more subtle signs of discomfort.
For example, when my dog is upset her tail will go up, judging from the looks I get when I swiftly recall her I am confident that pretty much everyone assumes tail up = she's excited and ready to mingle when it's actually the complete opposite.
Some dogs the signs of discomfort can be as subtle as a slight stiffening or a stillness.
I have seen video evidence of some terrifying dog interactions from the dog walking company I used to use, clearly they don't see what I see because else they wouldn't be putting the footage online.
So I would definately would want to see qualifications to prove you know what you are talking about.
Assuming you are suitably qualified and the dog is genuinely bombproof and genuinely comfortable around children I think it is a good idea.
Just seen that is the child's own dog you'd be working with.
I'd still want to see qualifications.
I wouldn't consider speaking to any behaviourist who didn't have accreditations/qualifications.
Do you have either?
The Dogs Trust pdf leaflet "Be safe around dogs" covers this. Although I grew up around dogs I personally waited until my DD was 9 yrs before we got one. Agree with all the pps about people ignoring, not recognising or not understanding dog signals.
The classic one on you tube is the guy following a lab who isies on its back and misinterprers those signals as the dog wanting his stomach scratched. The man got got bitten for his efforts. Never pursue a dog who walks away from you!
Good idea but I think this is such a contentious area - dogs and children - that you are opening yourself up to a lot of liability should anything go wrong in one of your student's homes whether you are there or not, or during a training session when you are present. In your shoes I'd be seeking legal advice and getting yourself qualified up to the hilt before you start. Good luck.
<Sorry for dodgy spelling. Passenger in a bumpy car!>
My friend paid (a fair bit) for a dog trainer who came in just after she had her baby to help her introduce the dogs and baby and give ideas to help the dogs accept the baby and change of routine.
Even more helpful would have been a bit of training before the baby arrived, so :
getting the dogs use to walking with a pram
not jumping up on the sofa anymore
leaving the toys
getting use to being shut out of a room
not jumping up when you are holding the baby
getting use to baby noises
Ideas of how to mentally/physical exercise the dogs when heavily pregnant/tired from having a baby.
I think that service would be really helpful.
Thanks for all your posts. Yes I am well qualified and insured :-). My highest qualification is a masters in a relevant subject so I know my stuff about dogs. The dogs trust doesn't cover anywhere close to my area and there are a lot of punishment based trainers here too. Which is obviously bad for dog safety around children.
I have been doing 1-2-1 training with adults and, when children are around, I am often astounded at what people think are acceptable dog-child interactions. Much more education is needed on the subject!
Good point about legal advice, I will definitely get some before starting to work with kids.
Maybe I'll do a (dog free) presentation for parents first to see how that goes.
I’ve always involved my DCs in (reward based) dog training. This might be something to consider.
When my DCs were very young, e.g. 18mo, I would stand behind the DC and give the signals to the adult, well trained dog, while the DC practiced the commands and rewarded with treats (I am sure OP knows this, but for the sake of anyone else this is only suitable with a well trained dog who won’t jump up or snatch the treat). As the DCs got older, e.g. 6yo, they were allowed to practice some things with the puppy. I think it teaches the dog that the DC is someone who will reward good behaviour and it teaches the DC an appropriate way to interact with the dog. Last year my 7yo managed to do an entire puppy training class by herself (obviously I was right next to her and the puppy is a particularly smart and obedient one).
Thing is... I don’t know that you’re likely to attract the people that actually need it...
Not that I think it’s a bad idea btw, just I don’t think people that are unaware of how children and dogs should be interacting and are not good at reading their dog will be looking for help with something they think is fine...
My dogs are absolutely fabulous with kids, i trust them implicitly. That said,they do not get left alone together,same room/on the floor together etc
BUT it scares the crap out of me when other people let their kids roll around on the floor with a dog (especially babies), and the dog is very uncomfortable and showing signs.
Unfortunately, thoe are the knobs who need the training and wont pay for it as "they are fine".
I think you’ll find most people won’t agree with you when you tell them their dog is showing signs of stress or discomfort.
Wagging tails isn’t always happy, I’d say 80% of my clients don’t know this.
I’d say almost all my clients think yawning is because they are tired...
you would probably do better with a general ‘understanding behaviour’ direction IMO.
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