How can my dog and my brother and his kids get along?
March 17, 2010 2:12 AM   Subscribe

Recently I got a dog. He's doing great, I'm doing great, it's been nearly 3 months since I got him from the shelter. Problem: He's meeting my brother and his kids, in a few weeks (family reunion weekend), and my brother has a strong fear, maybe even a phobia of dogs. What can I do to put him at ease, navigate the situation and help everyone get through this unscathed?

Some background:

The dog is a male dutch shepherd, which looks somewhat like a really tall, really narrow german shepherd. So he's a big dog, but all legs, really. He's just over a year old, of a very sweet, placid nature and very rarely shows aggression. Situations where he does, are:
  • Food/treat competition if other dogs are around. N/A for this visit.
  • A little guarding of me if other dogs are too much in my face. Again N/A for this visit.
  • Toy/edible toy guarding (but never food in food bowl guarding).
So really point 3 is the only area I have any major concern with him and kids, but I think it can be managed and monitored carefully. Now, his behaviour round kids is largely an unknown. I've seen him round, say, 10 year olds a few times and he's been fine, but it's only been at outdoor gatherings.

At the reunion weekend there will be 3 kids, of ages 2, 2.5 and 5 (all boys). So I can't honestly say how he'll act. My brother is I think afraid of his kids being savaged, but he's got plenty fear for himself too. The kids haven't had much in the way of exposure to dogs. So, there's a lot of unknowns with the behaviours on both sides. He's never bitten anyone or drawn blood. At worst he does a bit of puppy mouthing if you go out of your way getting him worked up and super playful.

I want to do what I can to ensure safety, to make my brother happy(his wife won't be there that weekend). I want to help build a positive relationship between my dog, who I will have for a very long time, and kids and family who will see a lot of me and my dog, in the years to come. But I'm new to all this, I don't know what sort of strategies to try.

It's been suggested I keep my dog chained up with me indoors, on the side of the room where I am, so he can't reach anyone else. For the whole weekend. This seems nuts. Or we divide the room up with chairs. Or I just lock myself and the dog away in another room so we don't cause a problem. Okay the dog can just be shut away, but not for the entire weekend, and it doesn't solve the underlying problem. Please give me your dog diplomacy wisdom.
posted by Elfasi to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can your dog come and sit politely on command? Even in the face of distractions?

Put a plentiful supply of dog treats somewhere the visitors can get to, and teach them to get the dog to sit (and then provide a treat). This way you're introducing the dog in a positive and controlled environment, and you're demonstrating to your visitors that the dog is well behaved and that they have a level of control over the situation. Teach them that the dog doesn't understand "No" but certainly understands "sit" and likes treats.

If the dog can't come and sit reliably, you have until the weekend to work on it!

In fact, if the dog's over excited the guests can help calm the dog down by asking it to sit for ever longer periods of time before getting treats.
posted by emilyw at 2:28 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: First, it's really too bad your brother is afraid of dogs, because the kids are likely to pick up on that. My suggestion is to have the kids' first encounter with the dog be outdoors, if possible, with the dog on his lead.

The other suggestion I have is, if possible, thoroughly exercise your dog before he meets the kids. Dutch shepherds are a highly energetic working breed, so having him worked out beforehand will probably make him a bit calmer. (Though he will still be very curious about the new environment.)

Good luck, and good on you for taking a shelter dog!
posted by trip and a half at 2:31 AM on March 17, 2010

Does the dog really need to be there for the weekend? It sounds like you are creating a high stakes, stressful situation. You don't know how the dog will behave or how you need to control it. Your brother is scared of dogs. And there's going to be small children around who are unpredictable at all times. Couldn't you leave the dog with a friend for the weekend, and wait for a slightly more controlled/short term opportunity to figure out how your new dog behaves around kids/scared people?
FWIW, I'm a little scared of dogs (but nothing like a phobia), and the idea that there may be 'a little playful puppy mouthing' around a 2 year old would have me on edge the entire time.
posted by jacalata at 2:38 AM on March 17, 2010 [10 favorites]

Now, his behaviour round kids is largely an unknown

Right there. You're going to be stressed on behalf of your brother. He's going to be stressed. The dog's stands a good chance of being overexcited. While there's every chance all will be fine, the fact you don't know makes this a faff.

Lend your dog to a loving home for the weekend. He'll hate being locked up when the party's going on in a next door room.

In your own time and when you feel in control, see how your dog behaves around small kids.

And when your brother next visits, you'll either know it's a bad idea or you'll be much more confident of what your dog will do, and how to predict what your dog might do.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:59 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: I think you should supervise him *extremely* closely around the kids. The 2 year olds aren't old enough to know not to poke him in the eye, pull his tail, stick their hands in his mouth, etc. He might bite just as a reflex, not out of any viciousness. And they definitely won't know to back off if they try to go for a treat or toy he is guarding. I think if you already have an uphill battle getting your brother comfortable with the dog, it's going to be like a vertical wall if one of his kids gets bitten. Or even if the dog just gets overly excited, jumps up on one of them, and knocks him down, making him cry. For all of those reasons, I think it's also a bad idea to have any of the kids give him treats, at this point, unless it's highly highly supervised. Let your brother get a little more comfortable with the dog before an episode where the dog takes the treat from his kid too eagerly, making him freak out.

I agree that it's a good idea to get the dog really good and tired before he meets everyone.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:06 AM on March 17, 2010

Can you clarify whether this reunion is taking place at your (and your dog's) home? Or at your brother's place or some other environment the dog hasn't experienced before? (Which is what I originally assumed.) It could make a significant difference.

If the dog is at home, and you've done any crate or confinement training with him, I think you'll have far less of a problem. If it's away, I think the others have a point: it may be better to wait until there can be a less stressful opportunity to introduce the dog to the rest of the extended family.
posted by trip and a half at 3:08 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To clarify, the reunion is happening at our parent's place, where the dog has stayed at for 2 previous weekends now, and settled in very nicely. To the point my also dog fearing parents have been totally won over by him.

I have been crate training him and did consider the crate. I'm at a point where the dog is growing very comfortable with the crate as a refuge, safe place to hide or sleep, nice place to take treats or treasured toys. I've yet to confine him in it though (I have a few weeks).
posted by Elfasi at 3:33 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: Ah! So he's already familiar with his crate, as well as with your parents' place?

This is what I would probably do, then, if you do decide to take him (IANADog Expert):

Take the crate (probably a pain in the ass for you, but there you go), find a rather small, cozy place for it in your parents' home -- something like a utility room, or a corner in the kitchen, somewhere 'den-like' -- and devote some time to getting him used to it in that environment before he meets your brother or the kids. Throw in a familiar towel or one of your T-shirts or something that will smell familiar to him. (Actually start doing this now if you haven't already -- the more familiar the smell of the crate the better.)

Again, do find a way to wear him out before he meets everyone, and as Ashley801 mentioned, do be extra-vigilant when he's around the kids. He's a herder, and will naturally try to do that. And kids need to be carefully taught how to interact with dogs -- especially if they have phobic parents.
posted by trip and a half at 4:34 AM on March 17, 2010

Dog owner here.

Somewhat unpredictable dog + unpredictable kids + dog-phobic relative + food party = potential disaster.

I'd stay home with the dog or find some other place for the dog to be for a few hours during the reunion (crated at home).
posted by zippy at 4:37 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: At the reunion weekend there will be 3 kids, of ages 2, 2.5 and 5 (all boys).

Don't confuse fear with disinterest. Appreciate that not everyone shares your interest in animals, or dogs in particular. I am not the least afraid of any dog, but I'm not a dog person. I don't want it to jump up on me, or lick me. I don't want to pet it and frankly I would be most happy to have nothing to do with a dog (or cat) at all. When I am around I prefer if you keep it on a leash or behind a fence. I understand this is not always possible, or desired, and in such case I want the owner to keep the animal away from me. If a cat or dog jumps in my lap, I will gently but firmly put it down, but I would really prefer if the owner did this for me or prevented it from happening in the first place.

I am surprised at how many pet owners don't get this.

My kids 2 and 4 are curious about animals, but unsure of them - because of course we don't have one and I don't seek contact with them. But my opinion about animals is not something I want to directly impose on my kids. I want them to as much as possible make their own decisions. So if someone has a dog, I am happy to let my kids approach, pet, etc. to satisfy their own curiosity.

My 2 year old will run in terror when a dog jumps up on him. So it is important that the animal be restrained. Once a dog jumps on him, he wants nothing to do with it ever again. Once he is comfortable this won't happen, he will accept being licked on the hand without too much worry. And he is very happy to pet a docile animal. I am always right next to him and very careful to make sure that he does not treat the animal roughly or poke it in the eye (as Ashley801 noted.)

My 4 year old doesn't either like to have a dog jump on her, lick her, or get too close to her. Although she is very interested to pet animals she will only do it if she is sure the animal won't react. For her it's basically look but don't touch. As with the little boy, if the animal jumps on her even once, that's it. She won't give it a second opportunity.

Close adult supervision. That is (like more or less everything involving children) the key. You keep a hand on your dog and I keep a hand on my kids and generally the interaction is fine and both dog and children are happy.

If you can't provide close supervision, better to keep it chained somewhere where it can't cause a problem.... and I will do my best to keep my kids chained to not cause a problem for the poor creature.

Don't expect or ask anyone to be "won over" by your dog. I tolerate them and respect your interest in your animal (as well as respect the animal itself), but will never be "won over" and - again - would most prefer to have nothing at all to do with them. Dog owners who respect this earn my respect.
posted by three blind mice at 4:39 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice so far, some great ideas coming through. I don't have many friends willing to look after dog for the weekend, but worse case that can be arranged. I don't live near my parents, so dog could not be crated at home while I was at the meet. Some relatives I havn't seen for 10 years so I'm not prepared to cancel.

Ultimately though, it's my brother and his kids. I'm going to see a lot of them over the years, I want to see a lot of them, and they want to see a lot of me. We get on really well. I don't want 15 years of awkward tolerance. Maybe I can't avoid that, and maybe that's the price I pay for picking this life with a dog, but I'd like to do my best to avoid it.
posted by Elfasi at 5:04 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: "... The dog is a male dutch shepherd, which looks somewhat like a really tall, really narrow german shepherd. So he's a big dog, but all legs, really. ..."

Shepherds of all types generally have strong prey drive. You can train around it, sometimes use it as positive in training some behaviors, but prey drive is always there. To a young dog, without a lot of obedience work, small humans running about, making noise, just demand herding, and can seem like prey. Even if your dog is just playing, it doesn't have to bite to seriously injure a small child; just knocking a 2 year old child off their feet, and trying to pin the child with paws can inflict some pretty serious scratches, and lumps on the kid's head.

You haven't worked with this young dog enough yet, to have trained around prey drive. Until he'll always do an instant "safety down" at your command, even in full chase, you haven't any business letting him loose around small kids.
posted by paulsc at 5:35 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

A (relatively) new dog plus a group of really young children sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. You admit that you don't know what the dog is like around children. I would not even consider taking the risk. Either crate the dog when the children are around, or leave him with a friend.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2010

I'm a dog owner with a decent amount of experience with rescued dogs, dog training, and teaching dogs to properly behave around other people.

I would say that you probably shouldn't bring your dog to this reunion weekend for a number of reasons

1) This is a young dog from a high-energy, large working breed. The Dutch shepherd breeds have a reputation for high energy as well as protectiveness of their owners. In particular, Malinois shepherds are extremely protective and pick up on their owners' anxieties almost instantaneously. This is a wonderful thing in some circumstances, but it isn't a good thing when you're trying to "win over" someone who's afraid of dogs. The dog will pick up on your own anxieties as well as your brother's fear, and it isn't fair to ask a dog to be calm in this sort of situation, especially when there will be all kinds of new people and food around. Bringing your dog to this reunion is a recipe for, at best, the dog getting all worked up and hyper, jumping around, and needing to be confined. At worst, the dog will get all worked up and hyper and end up barking or growling at your brother or one of his kids in the event that the dog's puppy energy starts an argument or conflict within the family. Bring your dog and you're setting him up to fail.

2) Furthermore, a 10-year-old kid is very different from a toddler, and your dog is basically still a puppy. Think of a year-old dog as being like a 14-year-old kid: they usually have a pretty good idea of what they're supposed to be doing, but they just don't have the ability to consistently suppress their initial instincts. Toddlers are small, jumpy, run-around-y, and don't understand the difference between a live animal and a stuffed animal. It's just a mistake to trust a young, high-energy, working-breed dog with a strong prey drive to NOT chase after a small child.

Have someone babysit your dog or, worst-case, kennel him over the weekend (he will probably need a bordetella shot NOW if you end up needing to kennel him -- the vaccine takes a week or two to become effective in the body). But please don't set your dog up for a failure by taking him to this reunion. Spend some time at the dog park or just walking around town, so that you're sure he's socialized to all different ages of people. Introduce him to different people, including kids, in a controlled and low-energy situation where he's on leash. Work on obedience every day. Then, when you're confident of his maturity, obedience, and suitability to be around kids, THEN you might consider having your dog be around your family members. Even then, you might not be able to bring him to reunions -- my husband and I love our dog very much, but we kennel him over Thanksgiving because the in-laws don't like dogs, and it's not fair to a dog OR to your family to bring that dog to a place where he isn't wanted. Dogs pick up on that sort of thing, and they spend the whole time knowing that everyone's mad at them but not understanding why. Putting an animal you love into that situation is a cruel thing to do.
posted by kataclysm at 6:07 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

He's a young dog from an uncertain background, you're a new dog owner, your brother is dog-phobic and thus has not exposed his own children to animals, and the children are very small.

Like zippy said above, this is a recipe for disaster. And if it goes badly, the dog is the one that's going to get the short end, so do him a favor and avoid the situation. Let someone else watch him for that weekend.

Until you get a firm grasp on the strength of his prey drive, and until his behavior is consistent, avoid small wriggly loud things like children.
posted by crankylex at 6:22 AM on March 17, 2010

Ultimately though, it's my brother and his kids. I'm going to see a lot of them over the years, I want to see a lot of them, and they want to see a lot of me. We get on really well. I don't want 15 years of awkward tolerance.

I don't think anyone here is saying that you should never have the dog meet your brother's family. But perhaps this reunion is not the best event for that to happen. It's not at your house; there will be lots of people there; it's for a whole weekend; your purpose for going to is to see relatives you haven't seen for ages (so presumably you'll want to spend time with them, not worrying about your dog).

At another time, you could have your brother come over to your house with his family for just a few hours so they could acclimated to your new pet (hopefully by then, the dog will be somewhat trained with come and sit, and you will be more used to his behavior around new people). And over a few visits like this the dog and brother will get used to each other. (I am someone who was very afraid of dogs, but now am ok because I spent time in a quiet environment with my cousin's beagle).
posted by bluefly at 6:38 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

A few thoughts:

I've seen a normally happy and friendly dog snap at a child when he got overstimulated at a party. If your dog is present, you need to allow for this scenario and ensure it's possible to segregate him someplace quiet. It also couldn't hurt to keep him well exercised so that he doesn't have a lot of nervous energy looking for an outlet.

Have you talked to your brother about the fact that you're bringing your dog? You should. I'm not sure if there's anything you can do to make him warm up to your dog, but there's no need to spring it on him at the gathering. You should also discuss what contact his kids will have with the dog, which should be closely supervised.
posted by adamrice at 6:39 AM on March 17, 2010

Don't bring your dog to the weekend. (If you have to, find a place there that can take him during the days.) I think it's good to work out, with your brother, some way of introducing his children to your dog. (For their sake as well, not so that they become animal lovers, but so that they understand a little bit how to, and how not to, interact with animals, a skill that will serve them well as they grow up in a world where lots of people have pets.)

But the issue is to do it with your brother. There are a lot of suggestions above about how to be sure he's okay with other people, and with kids. Once you're there, and you know he's well socialised with all sorts of people, then you discuss with your brother how he'd like to have his kids meet the dog. When they do meet, do it after a long walk, so he's more tired, and be sure everyone is very closely supervised.
posted by jeather at 7:24 AM on March 17, 2010

I used to be dog-phobic. I got over it through meeting a number of friendly, chilled out dogs in chilled out situations.

This is not a chilled out situation.

If I think back to my phobic self; then imagine my phobic self had a toddler - I would have been sick with worry. Your dog is bigger than his child. Your dog has the capability to kill his child (I am not casting aspersions on your dog - I'm talking about being capable of, not will actually do). Your dog is in an over-stimulated situation, it's likely to at least jump or do something mildly unpredictable. In my case, in such a fraught situation that would have ended up either in me having a full blown panic attack, or just fleeing the scene (with children in this case) and refusing to come back until the dog had been confined.

In the long term you may be able to win your brother round to the dog and you'll probably be able to win the rest of his immediate family around - but that isn't going to happen if first introduction to the dog has terror and panic. The dog will then always be associated with terror and panic. Look for a chilled situation in future when you can introduce them. This most emphatically isn't that situation.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2010

a potentially chaotic situation is not an ideal first meeting time for dog and family members.
I don't think there is the either or choice of either 1) bringing dog to reunion or 2) "15 years of awkward tolerance".
Kennel the dog for a time you are gone, find a good place and let them take care of your pooch for the time.


1. Communicate with your brother
2. Actually find out how your dog is around small children
3. Introduce brother to dog first and if that goes well then include the kids as well.
posted by edgeways at 8:29 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: I have a dog with the sweetest nature I've ever seen. Loves all people, from babies to senior citizens, and other dogs of all sizes.

But when a toddler who is well-behaved but only had experience with larger dogs came to a family party, he thought it would be a good idea to pat my dog in the face the way he would pat a larger dog in the flank (as high as he could normally reach).

My dog -- who is extremely well socialized and explicitly trained to avoid biting, guarding and a whole raft of aggressive behaviors -- ran off to the opposite corner of the room and barked her disgruntlement. Good Girl.

Another dog -- a generally good dog -- might snap instead.

I saw the whole thing go down, but the kid popped out from behind a parent and did his thing before I had a chance to intervene and manage the greeting. You should never leave a dog unattended with children but as you can see, stuff can still happen regardless.
posted by rocketpup at 9:12 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: You need to fix the toy/edible toy aggression issue, and you need to get your dog 100% solid around children. Once you yourself are convinced that your dog is bombproof in those two areas, you will have the confidence to introduce him to the dog-afraid and young relatives.

The fact that you're worried about your dog's behavior says it all, really. This is a young, rambunctious, rather large dog, and you need to get his behavior under control.

To compound the issue, he'll be looking to you for clues. If he sees that you're relaxed and confident, he will be as well. If he sees that you look pinched and wary, it will put him on edge, and make him more likely to snap.
posted by ErikaB at 10:52 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: So if someone has a dog, I am happy to let my kids approach, pet, etc. to satisfy their own curiosity.

In any situation where kids and strange/unknown dogs are interacting, you should always follow this protocol:

-Have the child ask the owner if he/she can pet the dog first, from afar. Don't approach a strange dog.
-Make sure the kids know the rules regarding petting dogs--no hitting, no pulling tails or ears, no attempting to ride the dog, no bothering the dog while it's eating or playing with toys.
-If the dog is growling or seems otherwise unfriendly (hackles raised, other signs of aggression), separate the child and the dog promptly. You should do this whether you're the parent or if you're the dog owner--even if the dog has never bitten before.

I've seen parents and dog owners of all sorts introduce children to animals in ways that are tension-producing for the dogs. I've also seen kids ask their parents for permission to pet strange dogs, and watched the kids do so, without ever asking the owner. Bad idea.

It's been suggested I keep my dog chained up with me indoors, on the side of the room where I am, so he can't reach anyone else. For the whole weekend. This seems nuts.

This isn't nuts at all--it's reasonable to keep your dog on a leash in a chaotic setting around other people, particularly when the dog is nippy. It's not "chained up with you"--this isn't cruel, and your dog might actually prefer the security of staying by your side.

OP, if I were you I'd, first, do a few weeks of intensive leash training, practicing sitting and staying. Then, get to the reunion early--before anyone else does--and ask your brother and his kids to do the same. Sit down quietly, with the dog on a leash, with your brother and his kids. Have a quiet conversation about what is, and what isn't allowed with the dog--how the kids are allowed to pet him, etc. And then keep the dog on a leash and by your side the entire time. This will show your brother that you're a responsible dog owner who doesn't want his kids to get hurt or put his dog's needs/safety above those of a child. And I promise you that all of it will reassure the dog and make him feel safe, too. Dogs want the safety of their owners. I'd also probably bring the crate, just in case, and put it in an out-of-the-way place in case your puppy needs cool-off time at any point.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on March 17, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, I'm seeing a range of advice now, a fair bit of it mutually exclusive. It's all appreciated though; I'm seeing many ways I could approach this. As ever I want to be cautious, careful, courteous in all this. In doing so I may have overstated the problem and the concerns surrounding my dog. There's a range of unknowns to his behaviour, but not to the point I'm liable to stress out and stress him out over them. I just want to be mindful of what I don't know. This 'reunion' is largely a 1 day affair. Brother and his kids are there all weekend, but nobody else turns up till the Sunday, so should only be one day of pandemonium. To PhoBWanKenobi, I've both heard of and seen dogs becoming a lot more aggressive when confined on a lead, so that was my concern. Anyway here's my compromise plan to try and cover what everyone has suggested:

I turn up mid evening on the Saturday. Everyone has gone to bed except my parents (already fine with the dog) and my brother. We have calm introductions between my brother and dog(He knows all about the dog being there, BTW). Dog sleeps confined with me(I've been asked to barricade my door, just in case). Sunday I go to Flyball in the morning, get dog-tired. Come back for lunch and the family meetup. Dog is confined to another room, or his crate, or on a leash. Kids are kept separated from the dog, save for maybe a limited encounter outdoors before I go. I have to go, half way through the afternoon, as I have doggy obedience class to get to, a 3 hour drive away. This is one reason why using a dogsitter is problematic, it's a bit of a scheduling nightmare. So, we get some introductions done, limit the contact, and save further developments to a later time.
posted by Elfasi at 2:34 PM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: Elfasi, just a heads' up: confining dogs to leashes is an aggression problem if you leave them unattended and tied for long periods of time, as they then become territorial. Keeping them on a leash, by your side, shouldn't be a problem--and will probably actually be reassuring to the dog, as the best place to be in a dog's brain is right at his master's side.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2010

Seconding PhoB's advice - on a leash that you hold is comforting to most dogs, of course you'd want to practice this before the party: walks on a leash, tied to you on a leash in your house, so that it's ordinary for your dog. Give treats when he's not tugging and when he's paying attention to you on leash too. Lots of dog books cover this. And a dog on a leash can be a happy one - if they're showing aggression on a leash, their being on leash means you can bring them to a quiet place and give them some commands that will calm them down.
posted by zippy at 4:54 PM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: If I understand your question, this dog shows aggression in three situations. If you are correct about this, this is not good. You need to fix this as soon as possible. A dog with a sweet, placid nature should not do this - even in the teenage boy phase.

Are you talking about these situations in OB? The trainer should be able to help you with that.

But you can't solve those problems before the reunion so I'm with everyone who said just keep the dog safely crated and away from kids and people who aren't eager to meet him. And keep an eye on the kids - they might toddle into the room and open the crate.

What PhoBwanKenobi says about leash not be a way to "confine" a dog is correct - you're putting your dog in a situation where he's not protected from whatever he might decide is a threat but also feels "trapped" and will have to react. It's not fair to him.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:01 PM on March 17, 2010

Response by poster: I am very late to finally marking this as resolved; for this I apologise. There's a lot of good advice in this thread and no right or wrong answer, so I have marked a fair number of replies as 'best answer'. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see exactly what the right answer was, but I also accept things could have gone a range of other ways.

The family reunion went on without a hitch. The dog behaved far better than the kids ever did, with a guarantee of whatever you told the kids not to do with or around the dogs, they'd try to do the most. I supervised the dog extremely closely, on a lead most of the time, and it was incredibly stressful. At no point was I able to relax or let my guard down, and perhaps that's right. None of the dog's behaviour concerned me, despite lots of provocation from the kids. Amusingly my own parents suggested I should really try to avoid any future interactions with my dog plus these kids, given their obedience problems, at least for a few years.

Some background. When I raised this question I'd had my dog about 3 months. I've now had him 9 months (he's now 19 months old). He's not met my nephews since, though has met a wide range of children at various dog shows, dog classes, dog hydrotherapy, and somewhat in the public. He's always behaved impeccably and given me no fear and the kids have always got on really great with him. To be fair, a lot of these kids have been brought up with dogs and know how to act, but there's been ones as young as 2, and it's been just great. I just wish my nephews were quite so good... Anyway, I am aware you can never reach a 100% trust level on these things, and future interactions with my nephews will be closely supervised for the forseeable future. But following the advice in this thread did help a great deal. Thanks!
posted by Elfasi at 1:57 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older Why is the shark speaking with an Aussie accent?   |   What's new in university teaching technology? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.