Thursday, 26 July 2012

Guest Post: "My Dog Loves My Daughter- He Let's Her..."

I am excited to share with you the following guest post from Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and owner of Family Paws, Jennifer Shryock.

My Dog Loves My Daughter- He Lets Her…

Photo provided by Jennifer Shryock (

I always cringe when I hear this.   I often follow it up with, “Describe what that looks like.”  Then I hear all the things the daughter can do to the dog. 

“He lets her climb on him, and pull his ears, and take his bones and he doesn’t care.  He is such a good boy!" To which I reply, “How do you think other dogs might feel if your daughter did this to them?”  I always hear the same thing: “She only does this with our dog.”  Hmmm really? And even if she did only does this with your dog, does that make it okay?
Parents, listen up!  Every moment is a teachable moment!   We are here to teach and guide our children for future success and safety.   We get the greatest opportunity to set our kids up for success with animals by modeling and teaching them in our own home.  Just as we teach manners, we must
teach respect for all living creatures. 

Letting our children climb on or pull on our dogs is teaching our children that having no respect for someone’s space is okay. Labeling our dogs as “good” for tolerating this is only perpetuating the problem.

What if you had a relative come over and your child grabbed her hair and put their fingers in her ears.  Would you say that this is the best Aunt because she lets your child act this way?  Would you be proud of how your child acted?  I bet not.   Why is it different with dogs?  Is it because dogs don’t have a voice?  Well, actually they do speak to us but in a different way. They may be unable to say “Excuse me, please move” like we can, but they do indicate this with subtle signals such as licking lips, turning away, or yawning.

Dogs are very tolerant and put up with much of what we do, but that doesn’t give us the right to take advantage of their good nature. They too have limits and boundaries.  It is my job as a dog behavior consultant to provide resources to educate parents, and it is your job to take a moment to learn more about what your dog is really thinking, feeling and responding so that your dog can truly love your child.


Jennifer is a great resource for all things dogs and kids. I'm always trying to figure out how to facilitate the best relationship between my dog and my daughter, so I sought some advice from her. You can read my interview with Jennifer here.


  1. Great post! I too cringe when I hear statements like that. You wouldn't treat other people like that so why would you treat your pet like that? And if your child thinks it's ok to torment your own pet what will happen when she tries the same thing to another animal that isn't use to that kind of treatment?

    We don't have a dog, and sadly our family cat recently passed away at the ripe age of 21, but when we encounter other pets I always teach my daughter to be respectful. It doesn't matter how friendly or kid tolerant they are, she knows you need to be "gentle" with animals.

  2. This is a great post. We have a cat, and for the most part, baby just stares. She's grabbed onto his fur a couple of times - thankfully has not yanked, just sort of "held" the fur - and the cat was smart enough to run away. I'm trying to teach her to pat the cat softly.

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  4. Wow this was a post I needed to read. I have to admit I am totally guilty of saying how great the dog is for tolerating my little guy. When you put it in the perspective of having respect for everyone's space it really hits home. We will start working on teaching my little man to be kinder and give more space to Roxy.

  5. My dog is great for tolerating my child, but I wish my child would get the hint and stop tormenting my poor dog. He used my pup like a personal climbing structure and she in turn treats him like a puppy. What advice do you have for teaching children to respect her space? We remove him from her anytime he gets too rough and tell him we pet her gently. We don't allow hair pulling, ear pulling, etc. although my hellion of a child does it enough. I even keep them separated quite a bit, but the dog loves being right by him since she is protective of him.

    I am your newest follower from the Mom's Monday Mingle blog hop. Just stopping by to say hi.

  6. This is a great post! My sister just got her first dog and I was slightly worried how Zane would do with him. Luckily, he was great with the dog and tolerated him very well, and vica versa. Respect is important for everyone! THanks for sharing!


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