Ettiquette Question

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Okay folks, I know we have a regularly featured “Ask the Mom’s” segment every week, but this week, I have a question for you!

Picture me pulling my kiddos down the sidewalk (Today they turn 1! Happy Birthday Jonathan! Happy Birthday Faith!). They are in their choo choo wagon, and I am pointing out various trees, shrubs and flowers to them, pretending that they not only understand me, but that they are also paying attention!

Suddenly, I hear a “woof!” And see a dog running toward us. I stop, turn toward the dog, step slightly in front of my wide-eyed kids and wait for the dog to approach us, which he does, thankfully with no apparent malice. The owner trails after him. She is a mother of two young children, and we have talked before. She tells me that they just got this dog, at a rescue. They already have one dog, who is on leash at all times, as he isn’t nice. But this dog (whom they have had all of a week) is gentle, kind and great with kids! I pet his head, admire his coat, and secretly hope that he will turn and walk away.

Instead, he sticks his big head into Jonathan’s face, and my heart skips a beat. My mother bear instincts tell me to remain calm, but to tear the dog into small pieces should he twitch a whisker at my offspring. The owner lightly laughs and eventually the dog wanders away, much to my relief.

We make our escape, me thanking God that our encounter went well. The last time a dog stuck his face near my son’s, it was a puppy, and my son BIT him. Thankfully, Jonathan did not bite the big dog…I just don’t even want to think about what could have happened.

Anyway, to get to my question…how do you handle situations that arrise in which your children could be in danger? Had it only been one child, I easily could have swooped him/her up into my arms, and felt good about that option. But when there are two or more to protect…how do you handle it?

The kids hanging out in their choo choo wagon, trying desperately to grab the cat's tail.

Also, as a former dog owner, I am clueless as to how to tell people to please keep their dogs away from my children. Clueless, because it never occurred to me to allow my dog near small children, especially while off-leash. As much as we love our pets, they are still animals. And animals are unpredictable, and can do damage, especially to small children. (Please note that I am not referring to your children and family pet interacting. Rather, how do you address strangers and their pets? As you can see in this picture, our cat gets very close to the kiddos!)

Any thoughts out there?

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9 thoughts on “Ettiquette Question”

  1. Happy Birthday Jonathon
    Happy Birthday Faith
    Happy birthing day Krissy

    Sorry , I don’t know but I don’t like it either when dogs are close to my boys (22months old).Young children are just as unpredictable as what they might do too to scare a dog when they approach.There are so many dog attacks from unprovoked situations.

    I think maybe mentioning that you are teaching your children not to approach or touch dogs who come to them – because you (or kids) can’t always tell if a dog is friendly or not or if it might bite – even if they are wagging their tail.
    … say “the owners are not always around to tell me like you have “. just casually you say it

    “I’d rather your dog kept his distance (or was on his leash) as we don’t want to confuse them it is okay to touch any dog that comes up to them”

  2. Good point, you can phrase it like something you’re teaching your kids. I used to do that when my dog was a puppy, and people would call to her or pet her without asking, all while I was trying to work on good leash manners! SO FRUSTRATING! So when I was attempting to keep her away from random strangers on the street, I’d say something like “sorry, she can’t play, we’re training” or something like that. (On the inside: “who the hell are you, and why are you calling my dog to you??”)

    It’s scary, and I say this as a total dog person. It’s really inappropriate for your neighbor’s NEW dog to be off-leash and running up to people, kids in particular. If it were me, I think I’d try to just put myself in between the dog and the kids, and not worry about offending the owner.

    Of course, it’s hard to remember your own “theories” about things in the heat of the moment! How often do I find myself just kind of standing, frozen and dumb, and wishing in hindsight I’d said or done something… Sigh.

  3. I have two big dogs and I never leave them unattended with my son. My dogs have never hurt anyone or anything but they are dogs, animals, once part of the wild. I don’t let my dogs lick children in the face. I don’t take my dogs out off leash. I hate when dogs are off leash (that is just a pet peeve of mine, not aimed at anyone).

    This is what I would do if I was in your situation (even though I only have one baby, not two). You can direct your comment to the owner or the dog. I can only think of a couple and I would definately not be offended by them as a dog owner.

    -“No, no, there is no telling what baby may do to the dog.” Place the blame on the unpredictability of the baby
    -“Gross, dog slobber is so gross”
    Act like you are germaphob about dog slobber
    -“Out of his face, I/my brother/sister/cousin/friend was bit by a dog as a child so I’m a little sensitive to dogs in my babies face”
    I would assume any other mother would respect a genuine fear based on a negative experience.
    -You could call the dog away and start petting it like you just wanted to have a turn petting the dog.

    Things to not do.
    -Make a sudden movement. I have startled both my dogs in the past by jumping up quickly. A startled or scared dog is unpredictable
    -Yell loudly, for same reasons as above
    -Grab the dog from above, you may startle the dog.
    -Grab child quickly, this may cause the dog to try to get the baby as a game.
    -Run, never run, then it does become a game.

    If these people have only had the dog for a week then there is not telling what sickness or diseases the dog may be haboring. Plus, they have an unstable dog at home, so you never know what behaviors the new dog will pick up. As a dog owner, I’m sorry that you have to put up with even having to ask how to deal with a situation like this.

  4. Mylittledrummerboys, and goddess, thanks for the great suggestions! I just now thought of a comeback…I should yell “Careful! He bites!” and watch the dog owners confused expression!

    (cracked myself up with that one!)

  5. Tell the woman to GET A CLUE! Just kidding but you know you wanted to. I agree–we have a family dog that we keep at bay because you never know how other people will feel about your dog bounding up to them, and on the flip side, I don’t want a dog pouncing his way toward my children as well. I’d definitely say that you are teaching your kids pet safety and that this confuses them so the owner will probably want to leash his/her dog in case other people are doing the same. Or just as a common courtesy SINCE SHE DOESN”T KNOW WHAT this NEW rescued dog will do! THE NERVE OF PEOPLE! Good luck!

  6. Happy Birthday, Jonathon!
    Happy Birthday, Faith!

    Ooh, don’t like that scenerio! I don’t mind a little dog slobber, but I really wouldn’t like a strange (big) dog that close to little baby faces. Most people in our neighborhood have their dogs on leashes, thank goodness.

    I love your little train! How cute!

  7. I think everyone’s suggestions are great. I had a similar experience in which I was going for a walk in our old neighborhood with the kids in the double stroller. Out of nowhere, this black pit-bull dog came running over to us. We were the only ones walking in the street and there were no cars coming, so he was definitely coming towards us. My heart stopped and I froze. I am glad that I remembered not to run or do any sudden movements. I got in front of the side of the stroller, as to try to protect both the kids, and started to walk towards the dog a few steps and acted like I wanted to pet him. He stopped and let me pet him and seemed ok. Thankfully, his owner saw the interaction from his front yard and was yelling (in another language, I might add) for the dog to come back. I was shaking after the episode, even though it thankfully turned out to be harmless. I think later on I was re-playing the whole scene and wondering what I should have done differently too. The one thing that I did start doing was carrying a small stick with me in the basket of the stroller, in case another episode might occur in which the dog did attack. I was thinking if a worse case scenario happened and a dog did attack if I would be strong enough myself (and not frozen out of fear) to pull the dog off. I figured it would be safe to have the stick with me- just in case… but I would never pull the stick out just because a dog was coming towards us- unless he looked angry or was growling or something. I would be afraid that a dog might become aggressive if he saw me automatically pull a stick out. Most dogs, I think, are friendly but yes, you have every right to protect your children and to fear that any child-like movement or noise could startle an otherwise calm, friendly dog. In my case, I saw the dog on one other outing in which his owner wasnt anywhere around outside. This time, the dog just walked our entire route with us while the kids were in the stroller, but he stayed a few feet behind us. I was on guard the entire time, but he never acted aggressive or came too close to the stroller, even when the kids were cooing and waving their hands at him from a distance. Other than having some sort of physical protection with you, I agree that its best to talk directly to the owner first and foremost to hopefully prevent any sort of negative outcome for your children or the dog. And continue to try to teach your children cause ultimately, no matter how hard you try, you cant always prevent things/animals/people from potentially hurting your child, but you can teach your child how to react once they get old enough to understand. Sounds like you handled it great!
    ps- happy birthday jonathan and faith— its amazing to think how your life was so different this time last year, huh? LOVE your pictures!!

  8. Happy Birthday to your precious two!!

    To answer your question. When it comes to protecting two at once, well, all I can say is as time goes on, you will learn to be more aware, and pretty much even be able to guess at a few potentially dangerous situations.

    Being constantly aware helps, but it’s also easy to give in to the paranoia (happened to me a few times, being a first time mom of twins) so try not to stress.

    As far as animals, never to be trusted regardless of what anyone says. Be firm and polite with the owners and stand your ground.

    The trick is to not let your kids get too close to any place, person, animal or thing if your gut tells you it’s not right.

    Good luck!!

  9. If it’s someone you don’t know very well, tell them your kids are allergic to dogs and kindly ask them to keep their dog at bay. If you get a dog in the future or if they see you walking a dog later on, tell them your kids got medicine and now they can tolerate brief encounters with the dog. That’s the most non-confrontational way I can think of handling the situation. If it was me, I would probably just confront the dog owner and tell them I would rather their dog not lick my kids. Just saying :)

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