"GOOD WITH KIDS?"
What does that phrase mean to you?
Patient, forgiving, tolerant, understanding? One who adjusts his energy level and behavior to accommodate small ones? Unlikely to bite or scratch? A pet that somehow understands that your toddler is a baby animal and doesn't take his sometimes painful actions ‘person'ally? One with a strong maternal instinct to care for a child as he or she would a canine or feline youngster? One who trusts that the adults in charge of the child will protect him from the inappropriate things that kids are bound to do because they simply don't know better?
"Good with animals?"
Let's turn the above paragraph around! A child (or adult!) who is good with animals is patient, forgiving, tolerant, and understanding. One who adjusts his energy level and behavior to accommodate what the animal is telling him or her. Unlikely to hit or intimidate. A person who understands that an animal is not a toy or furry human and doesn't take his species specific behavior ‘person'ally. One with a strong instinct to care for an animal as he or she would a human youngster. One an animal can trust that to protect him from the inappropriate things that non-animal-savvy people are bound to do because they simply don't know better?
Not all animals are tolerant with foolishness.
Genetically or experientially, many animals are not prepared to deal with stomping, yelling, threatening, running, falling, misbehaving humans. (Many humans aren't, either!) If his heredity has dealt him a low reaction threshold, he is going to be quicker to react to lower levels of personal threat. If he is genetically programmed to herd, protect, chase, he will need parental direction to help him learn that children are not cows, sheep, invaders or vermin! The cat or dog who left its litter and went home with well-behaved adults who had few friends with children just don't have the learning history to prepare them for the erratic and unpredictable behavior of young humans. Combine genetic tendencies and lack of experience and you have a dog less prepared to cope. Add a learning history that includes bad experiences, and you have an animal who may not recover from a kid invasion. Allow foolishness around this dog and there will be a high likelihood for injury.
"Bad with kids" typically describes an animal who will defend itself against mistreatment or perceived possible mistreatment (real or not); one who becomes frightened and avoids kids, or takes it upon itself to correct misbehaving kids.
"He's SO good with kids!" Unfortunately, to many people, "good with kids" equals "animal who will take abuse." "He just loves kids - he'll let them do ANYTHING to him and he never gets mad." Unfortunately for some pets, "anything" includes being ridden like a pony, dressed in doll clothes, packed around like a stuffed animal, dragged around, pushed around, dropped ... and worse.
What's wrong with this picture? Besides the obvious animal mistreatment, what is this teaching the child?
He's walking, grabbing, pinching, poking, hitting and sometimes even biting. He's a toddler. This can be a particularly tricky time to keep pets and children safe. What your child learns now will stay with him for life. Kindness and empathy lessons start before your child can speak. Model what you want your child to do - he is copying what you do! When he acts inappropriately, don't just pass it off as typical toddler behavior. Express the pet's feelings about what just happened so the child can become aware that his actions affect others. "OH, poor Buffy, are you okay? Did that hurt? I'm sorry, Bobby didn't mean it. Bobby's sorry he scared you." Then redirect the child to interact appropriately. Your kids and animals will be safer and your children will grow into more humane adults.
is why most bites to children are to the face.
photo by Bea Wachter
Affectionate children are unaware of canine body language or how a dog perceives their approach.
A dog will correct a rude puppy with an open mouth muzzle pin, inflicting little or no pressure,
just lots of noise and spit - an attempt to educate a space invasive youngster, not harm her.
Kids & Dogs
Toddlers & Dogs
Here is a TERRIFIC "Child Training" book:
THE POWER OF POSITIVE PARENTING
by Dr. Glenn Latham
And visit this great positive parenting e-group
handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and
with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -
ditr_training @ hotmail.com - http://www.diamondsintheruff.com
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