|How about NO.|
Short answer, "Nope!".
Recently I saw a post on a dog forum that annoyed me. It went something along the lines of "If your dog doesn't like children you should never take him out or let her off leash." Yeah, because staying at home will get them used to stuff! Big SIGH. It was interesting because the whole conversation of the thread was revolving around dog parks. Most dog parks are not safe places for dogs let alone little kids but that's a post for another time.
Repeat after me: "This is NOT a petting zoo!"
It's important to remember that any animal can bite. Even the most friendliest kid social dogs have their limits!
Think about it if you lose patients with your kids how do you think the poor dog feels?
|Sorry kid, Zoe just wants to poop.|
Okay, so lets get back to the thing that annoyed me on the dog forum. Neither of my dogs are comfortable with children. Zoe has had some very bad experiences with them and Phoenix has always been skittish. Neither of them appreciate teacup humans with grabby hands. Zoe is okay with older calmer children so occasionally I will allow an older child to say hello to her. It's my job to be my dog's advocate, though and it's perfectly okay to say NO, you may not pet. Just because they are not fond of children doesn't mean they can't ever leave the house. If they never left the house, they wouldn't be used to anything and I believe that would be worse. Personally, I'd really like to see some parents take responsibility and actually teach their kids manners rather than letting them run wild and expecting every dog to be tolerant. Since I can't control that, I try to avoid rowdy children for the most part and we are always training. I try to be vigilant and protect them from scary situations. If kids do run up to us we have a treat party.
The other thing that bothered me was the part about never being off the lead. It's one thing if a dog is aggressive and known to be so. That dog should definitely not be off leash. My dogs go out of their way to avoid conflict (most dogs do not want conflict and if they can get away they will) and if a child ran up to them they could actually escape and get away versus being on leash where they are trapped. Which situation sounds better to you?
Anyways, I really wish people would do a better job at teaching their kids how to be safe around dogs, learning dog body language would be a plus, too and also having to hear NO once in a while is a good thing. Not every dog (or even dog person) wants to be social with kids and as long as they are not aggressive they have every right to be out with their people. I just want to go to the pet store or take my dog to potty without being harassed, is that really so much to ask for? As important as it is for dogs to be trained it's equally important for children to be trained, too.
Also, I just want to say thanks to all the parents out there who are responsible and proactive with teaching their kids to behave around dogs. They are few and far between but I am always thrilled and my faith in humanity is restored when I do run across them!
Does your dog like kids? Or are they wary like mine? What do you do in those sorts of situations?