So often we're asked if a dog is kid-friendly. But it's really not that simple. Over time, the expectations of dogs have become quite unrealistic. As much as we love our family pets, it is so important to keep in mind that they are animals who communicate differently. Do we want you to train your dog? Absolutely. Should the end goal be the dog will tolerate unwanted touch or interaction from children? Absolutely not.
More often than not, growling, nipping, or bites are completely predictable, or at the very least, explainable. There are warning signs. A dog who doesn't want to be touched will move, lean away, lick its lips, duck its head, stress yawn, try to leave. They are communicating that they are uncomfortable with the current situation and would like to be left alone. Not giving them that space is when things will escalate.
And never. Never ever. Should your child attempt to hug a dog.
Instead, we want to teach children how to appropriately interact with dogs.
Asking permission, and being okay if the answer is "no"
Gentle pets, not abrupt "pats" (hitting)
Flat, open hands, not grabbing fur
Three pets, then looking for the dog's consent (leaning in, moving closer) before continuing
And under no circumstances should you allow ear pulling, tail pulling, smacking, sitting on, hugging, hovering over, squishing, poking, or throwing things at the dog.
Teach ALL children to respect ALL dogs. Then ask yourself, is my kid dog-friendly?