It is astounding the number of times a strange dog as leapt towards my children while the owner claims “don’t worry, he’s very friendly!” How am I supposed to know he’s friendly as my children pull back in fear? And I’m just supposed to take their word for it?! Nope. I don’t think so. This might ruffle a few feathers, but I don’t allow my children to touch dogs they don’t know. And owners who encourage my kids to pet their dogs are one of my biggest pet peeves as a mom. (lol, see what I did there?!)
Now I’m not anti-dog. The people closest to me know that I’m not a pet person and I have no intention of becoming a pet owner. But I don’t hate animals, and I certainly don’t encourage my children to dislike them. But I do teach my children to be cautious. And there are way too many pet-owners out there who are undermining my efforts.
These are the main reasons why I won’t allow my kids to pet strange dogs.
1. Small Kid/Big Dog
My kids are small and some dogs are darn big. Like small-horse big. The most well-intentioned dog could knock down my child or step on him. I don’t want that to happen if I can help it.
Some of the friendliest dogs might like to jump up on people. Again, my kids are small. It’s one thing for a dog to jump up on an adult, it’s quite another for them to jump on a child. My kid could end up totally traumatized. Plus if I see a strange dog getting all up in my kid’s face, you can bet I’m gonna go full on Mama Bear to get it away.
My brother has a large dog that is particularly rambunctious. He likes to jump up and get all in your business. But we know him and I trust that he won’t intentionally hurt my kids. Doesn’t mean he won’t accidently do it though.
2. I Don’t Know Where That Dog Has Been
Dogs eat poop. And dead things. I don’t want my kids to get doggy kisses from an animal that has just literally eaten crap. No thanks.
I get that I can’t protect my kids from every little germ they might come across. And I’m all for them building up a great immune system. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stand by and let nasty crud get on their little hands and faces. Much in the same way that I can’t really prevent them from catching my cold but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sneeze in their faces. (Although, they don’t seem to abide by the same rule…)
3. Dogs are ‘Strangers’
I teach my kids not to talk to strangers. (In fact I had to really drive the lesson home when my 5yo said that it wouldn’t bother him if a stranger came into our house uninvited. Oy.)
So if they’re not allowed to talk to strange people, why would they be allowed to go near strange dogs, who have much larger teeth and claws than people do?!
4. I Want My Kids to be Cautious
I think it’s really important for my kids to learn the value of caution. I don’t want them to think they can run right into a situation without thinking about it first. That’s a life lesson, not just an animal lesson.
If we have taken a few moments to speak to the owner and observe that the dog is gentle and calm, then yes they may carefully pet the dog on the head.
We will happily stop and look at the doggy from a distance, I’m not a monster after all and some dogs are adorable. But running up to strange dogs is strictly forbidden.
5. The Dog May React Badly
It is not reassuring in the least when a pet owner says that their dog has never hurt anyone. There’s a first time for everything. I would guess that most dogs that have injured a child have never done it before. A dog may take an inexplicable dislike for a child and react badly. I won’t let that be my child. I’ve heard too many horrifying news stories of children being mauled. Even though they are domesticated, dogs are still animals and still retain their basic animal instincts.
I understand that bad pets are generally a result of bad owners. But I have no way of recognizing a bad owner. The best I can do to protect my kids is to teach them to be cautious around dogs at all times.
I know I don’t hold the popular opinion on this subject. But like all other mothers, I’m just doing the best I can.
What are your thoughts on the subject?