I want to introduce Alycia Neighbours to Keep the Tail Wagging!
Alycia is a blogger I connected with over photography and an amazing writer and will be able to teach us a lot about children and dogs. She’s the author of Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace Best Selling grief books “Deciding To Dance” and “Wake Up In The Mourning,” her personal blog “Diary of ‘…and frankly,’” and is a contributing writer to many other websites from politics to charities. Alycia’s writing combines her deep rooted values with a sarcastic voice that makes her words unique, but relatable.
She lives with her husband, 7 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 horse and 2 bearded dragons in a constant state of chaos and feeding times in Middle Tennessee. Often using stories from her kids and pets to reemphasize what’s really important in life.
Ask people around you what the cutest thing they have ever seen is and I will venture to say that most agree it’s a basket of puppies. Combine that with a toddling baby and you’ve just won some kind of “Cutest Thing Ever” contest. It’s not so cute though when you have a pup that has nipped flesh or a child who is pulling pup’s ears or tail causing it to yelp.
As a mother to 7 human kids and almost enough animals to qualify us as a Petting Zoo, I’ve seen my share of bad child/pet interactions. This is especially true for the random frog, turtle, bird, snake or lizard that dares to creep, hop or slither into our yard. Sometimes they check into the Neighbours’ Hotel so that we can watch them or talk about the science of the animal, but mostly it’s a catch and “quickly-release-because-Mom-is-screaming” release program.
Children and Dogs
I love watching and helping my children with animals, but the most important thing to remember is “Kids are Kids and Animals are Animals.” No matter the training, the domestication or the background; your kid is still a kid and your pet is still an animal. They are both depending on you to guide them and protect them, especially from each other.
We have had quite a few dogs come into our home and had to accept that some of them, even though we were told they could handle it, had to re-homed because it just wasn’t a good fit with the human children or the furry, scaly, fuzzy children. Our current two dogs are both young and have shown resilience and patience with our children.
Deogi is a considered a “bully breed” (which is an unfair reputation) and we have had him since he was a puppy. He grew up around children and is now at the advantage by being over 100lbs.
Friday is a rescue dog. We didn’t have much background on him, but after visiting at the shelter, we felt he was a good fit for our family. He is 2 years old and a shepherd/husky mix.
Because animals are animals, our dogs see the younger children as lower members of their pack. They are there to play with, have no authority and occasionally need to be put in their place. This is where parenting human children and fur children become paramount.
Here are the rules that a blended animal/kid family needs to have in place.
- Because children are children and animals are animals, we don’t trust them alone together. Period.
- Children must be taught to understand doggy language and respect it. When play becomes too rough, our dogs feel challenged or tired; their last resort is the growl. Before the audible warning comes the nervous lick of the tongue, the attempt to retreat to a safer place, the tucked tail or the flattened ears. If the children don’t see these signs and do hear the growl, they are to back away immediately and give the dog space to retreat.
- Our dogs are both males and even though they have a hierarchy with each other, sometimes they feel the need to reestablish it for no apparent reason that we observe. When the dogs are challenging each other (even if it looks like play ) the children have to leave the room. Lower “pack” members are not allowed into the challenge or they will become the focus as well.
- There is no teasing with toys, food or waking a sleeping dog. Our dogs are depending on us to provide their environment and protect them.
These are just basic rules for a working children and animal household. The theme in all of it is respect for the animal and child psychology that is inherent. Our children love having all the animals around and we are providing them with the rules so they can have that wonderful bond that sometimes only a pet can give. Because there is nothing cuter than a kid and a basket of puppies.
Do you live in a blended home with children and animals? What rules have you created so that everyone gets along?