Dogs and kids – what could go wrong?
We adopted a border collie/australian shepherd mix a few years ago and she is as sweet as can be. Our problems started when our daughter was born. At first, Blu was totally in love with the baby and slept by her, protected her, watched over her. But now that the baby is up and walking, we can see that Blu is getting more and more anxious and uncomfortable with some of the baby’s behaviors and interactions with her. We know we need some guidance, but aren’t sure where to go. Can you help us Dear Labby?
You are right to be concerned and to seek professional help for the situation. You have a responsibility to protect your child from the dog and the dog from your child. Education is critical and you must teach your child the proper way to interact with your dog and with every dog she meets as they all have different personalities and different tolerance levels.
Border Collies/Aussies are both intelligent breeds with a high energy level. They are working dogs, used to being mentally and physically stimulated and challenged every day. Without that outlet, they may become bored, anxious and susceptible to undesirable behaviors. They are typically dogs that require much time and attention – they are worth it as they can be great pets, but you should recognize they need several hours of your times each day for proper care.
We recommend that you contact a local trainer and ask for guidance as quickly as you can. A good resource for families with children and dogs is Family Paws, an organization dedicated to promoting safety for families with dogs. They have a list of resources on their site, including webinars and other reading materials which I’m sure will be of help to you. They also offer a Find A Trainer service, that will help you locate an experienced trainer in your area, one with experience working with dogs and children.
One of the more critical areas of education is in reading your dogs body language and removing the child or the dog from the situation before it escalates and teaching your child proper dog interactions. There are lots of new and very useful resources to take advantage of to help learn about and understand your dog:
- Kids and Dogs: How Kids Should and Should Not Interact with Dogs
- Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work
- Living with Kids and Dogs
- What I Learned (Too Late) About Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs
- Dog Safety for Kids
- Dogs and Kids
There’s also several great infographics available – here’s two of our favorites from Dr. Sophia Yin, read them – study them. There is also a new app called Dog Decoder that we will review next week.