People who haven’t spent much time around dogs are often concerned if they see one interacting with a child. However, for dog lovers who have lots of experience with this kind of animal, their impression is likely the opposite. Plenty of dog owners have seen firsthand that small children, who get excited and don’t know any better, will do everything from tug on a dog’s tail to rub their fur backwards. Although this isn’t the type of interaction that a dog would willingly chose, most are surprisingly patient with children and may even indicate that they want the interaction to continue. Witnessing these types of experiences often leads to people wondering why dogs continue to be drawn to children.


The Social Structure of Dogs


To fully answer this question, it’s helpful to have some insight into the social structure that dogs follow. In the wild, much of dogs’ behavior is driven by whether they’re in charge or subordinate. With pet dogs, they understand their family setting. In the case of a child who’s brought into a dog’s human family, their instincts will likely be to protect it.


As you may have guessed, there are a few caveats to this behavior. The first is understanding that breeds differ in their natural protective characteristics.  Herding breeds are going to go out of their way to keep their pack together (including children), while breeds that have been bred as lap dogs are going to be less proactive in their interactions.


Another important note is dogs with previous experience around children are the most likely to be patient during future interactions. If a dog hasn’t had much socialization outside of its core family members, interactions with children should be carefully supervised. But as long as a dog has a basic level of socialization, it’s likely to interact with children in the way we described at the beginning of this post.


Helping Your Dog with Family Transitions 


Any family that has a dog and child knows how attached they can get to each other. This can cause quite a bit of stress during transitions like going back to school. After a fun summer of playing together, a dog may be sad when its buddy resumes leaving the house for eight or more hours a day. If you face this or any other type of challenge due to a transition within your family, our dog daycare can help.


By getting your dog out of the house and into an environment where it will be engaged with other dogs, you’ll be able to help your pup continue feeling its best.

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