Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Puppy Love

Image: Donald Zolan

In helping my friend with her puppy-raising, I noticed an issue beginning to develop—one that happens to a lot of people, even without special-needs children that most owners do not stop in the beginning signs of the problem, but rather wait until it is a full-blown issue.

The puppy was starting to chase and jump all over the kids whenever he saw them, treating them more like littermates than his leaders. The puppy was not respecting their space. The German Shepherd puppy would run after the autistic son as soon as he spotted him in the morning. The child did not even have a chance to come all the way down the steps after waking before the 8-week-old pup was chasing him in an excited manner. The pup was also behaving this way towards their older daughter. 

Most see behaviors like this and interpret them as the puppy loving the child. They are best buddies just wanting to play, but actually when a dog respects a human or object they give it space. They do not come barreling over jumping on it. Rushing humans or objects is not respect, but quite the opposite. 

This behavior can start off caused by the child's excitement. A high level of excitement is a weakness to a dog, and if all you show the puppy is excitement and play, and never show him leadership, the pup will start to see himself as above the kids in the pack order. This will become a problem as the puppy grows up into an adolescent and adult. If the puppy grows up to own the child in the house it can be very dangerous as the dog guards the child as their property. It may cause issues with your child's friends; they will not be safe in your house. For example: if your child is playing with their friend and they get hurt or start to play in a manner that your dog feels is too rough, the dog might decide to protect his "property" against the other child. 

A dog should own NO property. Everything belongs to the humans; the children are not property the dog can own. This is where a lot of people go wrong, they do not see the warning signs and they do not act like leaders. 

In cases such as this, the parents need to step in and "claim" the kids, communicating to the dog that he must respect them. They also need to teach their children how to be leaders. It does not matter if the dog is large, medium or toy-sized. The behaviors mean the same thing no matter what size the dog might be.