In various magazines, books, during training classes with the dog or at the meetings with dog behaviorists we expect to be given the “golden recipe” for the behavior of our pet. Even better would be to find a trainer with a magic wand, which after saying “abracadabra” will solve all our problems the dog suddenly will became obedient and polite. Unfortunately we did not come to such a “great” achievements in this century.
According to the owner, the dog is to be polite and obedient, but only when it suits US. We expect that the dog will know when he is allowed to force us to play with his tug toys, and when the same play will be not welcome because we are just watching some movie. When we take a little puppy on our hands or let him jump on us upon arrival home while greeting, and then when he is 7 months old and bigger, we suddenly find it as an inappropriate behavior and ask “What can I do when the dog jumps on me and my guests?”.
Another example – puppy is small and cute, he bites us with his teeth and we laugh saying “How cute he barks and how strong he pulls, how smart he is!”. Within 2 months the same game will take on a different character and suddenly will not be cool, moreover, it even puts us in a situation in which we do not really know how to act and find a way out. And who does all of this responsibility? Of course everyone thinks that the DOG! People are always blameless. I must admit that I can barely refrain from being rude when I hear the owner of the dog: “He does not listen to me when I give him a command and has already 4 months old!”. I would love to see human parents upbringing their child stress-less and inconsistently and expecting a 3 year old to be perfectly obedient, going to school, doing it’s mama shopping and reading newspaper to his dad. By such measures, we got to the point of this article – DOG AND A CHILD sharing one home. This problem is downplayed by 95% of You. The worst idea is to buy a dog, because the baby wants to and needs to play with someone. This is nothing else but buying a living toy for your child, who has to take his time, because we do not have it and what is worst – the dog has to withstand all of the child's experiments and “plays”. I often hear such parents saying: “This is ONLY a dog, and it’s my CHILD, and HE bit it!”. If only your dog could tell you how many times he was bit, grabbed, pulled and hit by the tail! Unfortunately, according to many owners a dog is JUST a dog. Most of you are familiar with the situation when a child excites our dog to the “whiteness” and then runs away, squealing and screaming “Mon, he caught me and bites!” – Excuse me, but with what he has to catch the baby?! A minute ago the baby pulled the dog, played with him in a highly expressive manner, liberating dog's instincts. As the dog began to play his way, it suddenly was no longer funny – and who would blame a “poor” child? Mom yells at the dog, baby cries, and the innocent dog have to clue of what just happened.
I want to emphasize that I strongly support a model of family, where there always is a dog, car or other pet. However, all animals have their RIGHTS, and do not live only for our child to play WITH it. Me and my good friends were able to raise our kids so that our animals never suffered any harm. A child brought up with a dog, cat or any other pet in a correct relationship, usually grows into a good person, sensitive, compassionate and loving. If during his life it happens (an it happens a lot) that his beloved pet crosses the rainbow bridge, the kid learns a situation where you need to come to terms with death, he learns to keep good memories of someone whom everyone in the house loved so much. I believe that children should be raised with dogs, but ….
I will tell you what I heard on the phone, because a brief of the conversation will explain it all. A lady who participated in an obedience course at our school with her Doberman called me. Please believe me, that her dog can be described as very well-behaved (which is not so often in this breed). The case was that the 4 year old Doberman bite her son in the face. Horrible, isn’t it?!?! I know too many stories of that kind not to ask further questions. After my investigation it turned that he did not bite the child, only hit and made a bruise, and the reason of it was that 13 year old kid constantly comes towards the dog yelling and making awful high-pitched sounds, and makes the dog run away crouching. He makes those sounds and annoys the dog all the time. The lady says that both of parents told their son not to do so, but the kid of course did his own, with no consequences what so ever. Moreover, the “naughty” Doberman at the time of this incident had one paw in a cast! And when our delightful thirteen-year-old squealed over dog’s head and teased him, the Doberman was so rude to chase the child away and hit him! WHAT A NAUGHTY DOG – yet in spite of the leg in a cast and the breed he was, he should easily withstand the abuse of the child- or rather a teenager. I think that we are all aware that if the dog would want to bite the “blameless” boy, it would have been doubtful that any surgeon could restore the old look of child’s face – the dog had to control his impulses, not to harm his beloved member of family, despite his behavior. But the mom asked me: “What to do? The dog attacked my son!”. My answer was: „The child should get a good beating! And the sick dog should be left alone!”
The key is to raise the child and the dog simultaneously. Dog’s behavior is largely dependent on how children behave. If the house is quiet, the puppy will grow up to a loving, emotionally stable member of the family, and vice versa. I often met with dogs, whose owners claimed that they are hyperactive, aggressive and overexcited. And when the whole family of such a dog came to my classes – it occurred that the kids were too active and loud. Of course, there are children hyperactive by their nature (ADHD). But besides the genetic issues, such behavior can be affected by many factors such as nutrition, parenting or environment at school. Often however, it’s just a parent’s excuse to hide the fact that they have too little time to bring up their children.
Simply put – some children are not good for dogs, and at least have a very negative impact on the upbringing and behavior of the animal. In a home, where the dog has its right and obligations, and where children have their rights and responsibilities, and where parents have full control of the behavior of both – the dog will rarely misbehave. There is no obligation to own a dog in Poland! You should carefully consider whether your home, your children’s age and characters, as well as the nature and lifestyle of the whole family, is suitable for a dog. And remember – DOG IS NOT A TOY!