miscommunication between kids and dogs happens due to the difference in communication. Kids model and learn from adult Humans. We (thank goodness) rely on different senses and animation to communicate together. It is natural for children to use our human communication skills with dogs unless taught otherwise. Here are some examples.
Human babies bond with Mom with eye contact even moments after birth. Puppies ar Eye contact is a strong bonding, greeting and connecting point that kids learn, model and then expect from dogs. Dogs can become uncomfortable with direct approaching eye contact at eye level with them from especially an unfamiliar child.
They will often offer a tongue flick (licking lips) as an indication of stress or as an attempt to increase distance. That is what they would do with another dog. Below Moose licks his lips as Kayleigh is too close and is looking directly at him. He is wanting some space. (yep old photos from my home 10 years ago)
Puppies and dogs use sense of smell from birth as a way to learn about their environment and to stay safe and close to Mom in the early days. Sniffing for dogs is a necessary and important part of greeting….aren’t you gladyou are not a dog for this one!?!
We offer affection to one another especially our kids with hugs and kisses. It is natural for kids to think this is the way to show love for their dog or cat. We must educate them that dogs and other living creatures may not be comfortable with this.
Hugs are enjoyable when shared by two people who have a comfort level with one another. They are NOT comfortable for every human being nor for us with someone we do not know. Dogs have other ways of showing affection through play and body language. We must not expect dogs to enjoy our human forms of affection.
Dogs indicate stress through signals they use with one another. In the above photo you can see my dog indicate discomfort when my son (again years before I knew better) was hugging her. She is licking her lips and turning away in the bottom image. I am sitting right there not noticing or knowing any better. The top image with the shepherd is also my dog and other son. he is lying on her hugging her. Again, I too had to learn alot even though I grew up showing dogs and living in a home with 6 dogs at most times. I have learned alot over the years and hope this helps you.
What I learned as a parent with kids and dogs together in the home is that I needed to recognize the subtle signals my dogs readily offered so that I could help they and my children live comfortably and safely together. I had a great deal of adjusting of my expectations and what I thought I knew. Living with a dog without kids is very different than living with a dog with children. Once there are kids in the home there is a greater responsibility to become educated so that you can increase safety and comfort for all.
This was the driving force and remains to be the driving force behind all that I do. I am proud and happy to say that we have never had a bite in our home. But…..that for many years was not due to my knowledge…it was due to the amazing nature of our dogs to adapt and love us even when we make mistakes and misunderstand them. I am so glad that I know so much more now to make my dogs and children’s lives blend in a comfortable way for both.