Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Whats a dog gotta do!
This is a classic example of miscommunication between a toddler and dog.
The little girl is hugging the dog which is clearly a sign of love to HER. The dog is trying to rest. Hugging is NOT a form of love to dogs. In fact it is a confining and for some very threatening.
This dog is 11 years old which means that he could also have arthritis and having a toddler lay on him and over him may not be pleasurable at all. How many times do you think he will tolerate this before he complains? How is he to complain and what will his people do once he does? Will they understand that he was asking them for help by licking his lips, yawning and turning away from the child? He is TRYING to let them know he needs help and wants this to stop. Most likely they will not appreciate his efforts but will rather be angry at him once he growls worse yet nipping this child. Is he wrong?
Dogs let us know their discomfort with body language. Most people know they are testing the dog's tolerance level but they allow it over and over again. This family could call me and say "he always loved her...he let her lay on him and he just licked her or just lay there." Well actually he is giving clear signals that indicate discomfort.
This dog makes a great choice and gets up and leaves. But what will he remember about this child? How does she make him feel? Is she to be trusted or does she crowd his space? Over time he may become less tolerant as the unpredictability of her intentions will put him on edge. This is a common situation that looks cute but over time taps a dog of its tolerance for small children. Set your dog and toddler up for success with some of these tips:
1. Have the child stand with an adult and call the dog to them vs. toddler approaching the dog.
2. Put the child on a step to elevate them and call the dog
3. Include your toddler in structured supervised feeding time with the dog. Dumpster dump is a great one. Let your child fill a toy dump truck up and make piles around the room. Then allow your dog to eat one pile at a time.
4. Reward your dog for appropriate behavior following good interaction.
5. Play hide and seek using your child's name and scent as a bonding game that is fun for both. Once found the dog gets a treat or toy.
6. Include your dog in daily activities with child such as "wake up" time. This is where the dog goes to the room with you to wake up the kids.
7. Supervise and use "guided touch" (parent hand over toddlers) to ensure a gentle touch
For more tips contact a Dogs & Storks presenter!
Posted by Dogs & Storks at 1:40 PM