Saw the cutest toddler photo the other day with the header: “Silence is golden… unless you have a toddler… then silence very very suspicious.” Funny as the statement is (it’s funny because it’s true) It gave me pause when I thought about how this might apply to interactions between a dog and child – the truth is, a child should NEVER be left alone with a dog, even for a short moment. And yet, in many households, this could be a tall order at times.
Our daughter, for instance, has learned to open my husband’s dog’s crate. It is the type of door with the turning knob instead of the traditional stiff spring pins. I used to think that Shadow’s crate was the best ever, but I’m not so happy with it now, and we’re actually considering getting another of the less expensive type that a 2-year-old can’t open. The good news for us is that Shadow is our “good dog”, who is least likely to get irritated by her; he really does appear to like her, seeking her out and kissing her face. Nevertheless, unsupervised visits with him are forbidden, so my ears have become attuned to the sound of a crate door opening.
As much as I prefer to live with loose dogs in the house all the time, crates really are the best resting place for dogs in a house with a loose toddler. In the crates, the dogs are actually safer themselves as well, since a toddler can’t accidentally jump on them, try to ride one “like it’s a small horse”, or otherwise annoy them. It’s the best option when I need the dogs inside but can’t be supervising 100% with the toddler.
When I do have to leave the room and a dog is loose with our daughter, I will always call the dog to join me. While it is not usually my preference, I’ve found that it is often MUCH easier to recall a well-trained dog than even the best trained toddler. Usually, when the dog joins me so does the toddler, which makes things even easier. The point is to keep an eye on them both.
Having dogs and children together is not always fun and games. It is often more work than one would expect. But the rewards are worthwhile for those of us who love dogs and want our children to grow up with the joys of having them in their lives.