I find being a trainer who works with busy families both rewarding and challenging. I love seeing children learn to interact with
dogs in a positive, meaningful way. This knowledge can help keep them safe around these dogs they love so much. One of the more
difficult things to teach both children and adults is how to understand what the dog is trying to say because dogs use body language
instead of words. Older children often learn how to understand this just as well as many adults but younger children are
not able pick up on the subtle body language the dogs are expressing so they certainly won't know what it means. Adults carry the
responsibility of interpreting what the family dog is trying to say to the young children in the home. One of the areas I often see
misunderstanding is when dogs have an object (a resource) and children are nearby. Many dogs are very tolerant of children around
them while they are in possession of something so adults will often miss the early signs of concern these dogs are showing. Another
common problem is misinterpreting what the dog means when they do show certain signs of concern.
I recently ran across this article about a study done several years ago on why dogs bite children. It found that one of the most
common reasons for this is because the dog possessed a resource around the child. My experience has taught me that this is still a
prime time for miscommunication between human and dog. Another contributing factor is that there is much confusion about
why dogs guard resources from us in the first place and about whether they should or should not be corrected for this type of
behavior. That, by the way, is a whole different blog that we can be addressed later. Despite the fact that this study was done
several years ago, from my experience working with families, the information is still true today. Hopefully the numbers have
decreased but I know from my personal experience this is still one of the most likely times our children will be bitten by a dog.
Perhaps this article will help explain why we trainers are often so insistent of parental supervision when dogs and kids are together.