- The dog has much bigger teeth
- The child is relatively defenseless.
- An Alpha male wolf will carry food to his puppies and encourage them to take it from his mouth.
- An Alpha female allows her puppies to climb all over her, to bite her tail and ears, to growl and snarl and act like puppies.
- The Alphas protect the puppies from the youngest of their older siblings, the yearlings.
- Thus the subordinates learn to be similarly tolerant of the pups.
- This tolerance ceases abruptly when the pups hit adolescence, at around 6 months. From then on, it is up to each pup to find its place in the hierarchy, starting at the bottom. This is not a happy time in the life of a young wolf and most of them die, of starvation if not from dominant- inflicted wounds. So how do you apply this to your own families? (Clue: Death is not an option.).
- Do not expect a young child to dominate a dog, even a dog younger than the child.
- Don’t give the kid responsibility for the dog’s behavior. Your child can learn to train the dog, but an Alpha human must be present at all times, especially when both the dog and the child are young.
- Children must leave the dog alone at mealtime unless Mom or Dad is right there, with hands within 6 inches.
- If the dog is absolutely, positively steady on its Stay, the child can put down the food dish. Then step away when Mom or Dad says, before the dog is released.
- This tells the dog that the child has high status, but don’t expect the dog to accept this. Stand by to assert your Alpha status and protect your child.
As a result the pooch learns to ignore or distrust the teenager. None of these outcomes is the fault of the dog. The dog is ultimately the responsibility of the adult humans of the family.
If you have a puppy, watch the relationships with the kids when the dog hits adolescence.
- If your child has a good, buddy-type relationship with the dog, it’s reasonable to hope it’ll continue, but keep a parental eye on the situation.
- If the dog starts pushing the limits (see Alpha Boot Camp Article), step in like an Alpha wolf with a yearling.
- You set the rules, and your adolescent dog is not allowed to come in as the Heavy with your kids. Period.
- Babies and puppies routinely hurt each other badly, for neither is old enough to know how not to.
- The outcome of these episodes is not pleasant for anyone. The youngster learns to fear dogs, and the puppy learns to hate kids.
- Keep your adult hands between your dog of any age and your baby.
- Teach your baby to pat-pat the dog nicely and gently with an open hand, on its side or back.
Teach your dog to lick the kids’ hands but never to use teeth or claws. Be careful about faces. Dogs probably should not lick babies’ faces, though they often want to very much for they are loaded with yummies after a meal. Be guided by your child’s reaction. If the baby does not like having her/his face licked, don’t let the dog do it, but if the kid loves it, OK. Watch for teeth, if the yummies are dried on a bit. Pulling off hard, sticky yummies often requires teeth, from the dog’s point of view. Mom or dad’s hands must be right there.
Don’t assume that anybody is going to remember these lessons for more than a few seconds. BE THERE.
His passion, enthusiasm and love for the dog is evident in his many years of experience as well as his hunger to learn more and it is all this that has made him what he is today! He has had extensive training in the area of canine behavior and training! His studies have included 2 summers in the kennels of the New Skete Monestary, 1 year mentoring with Dr. Ian Dunbar, 1 year mentoring with Ed Frawley, and 2 years association with Michael Ellis!
He is a current Professional Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and owns and operates his own dog training business with 45+ years of professional Canine Training experience in his kitty! You are in good hands with Scott!