There are all sorts of cute puppy dogs, but it doesn't stop people from going out and buying Dobermans.
- Angus Young
It stands to reason that you should be careful with dogs around children; especially a rescue dog. This isn’t to say that the rescue dog is dangerous in any way, but it is the humans responsibility to make sure that your dog isn’t put into a difficult situation.
There are dogs I can trust 100% with children, but not all children can be trusted 100% with dogs. This isn’t meant to offend: even the nicest, most careful child can trip and accidentally fall on a dog. Accidents are accidents, but a dog’s natural reaction when feeling a sudden pain can be to become aggressive at the thing causing the pain.
Unfortunately, dogs can get the blame when incidents like this happen, and a dog bites. In most dog bite situations, they could have been avoided had simple common sense precautions been taken.
The age of the child, by and large isn’t an issue. We’ve seen children of toddling age who are fantastic with dogs, and likewise teenagers who are nightmares! Just like adults, dogs need to learn to trust. If children are running around, screaming yelling and being untidy, then some breeds can get very distressed by it. Other breeds might join in, adding to the mayhem! Every breed looks at a situation differently.
Dogs such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffie) have a rather poor reputation these days. Unfortunately that has been cultivated by the advent of ‘status’ dogs; but back in the Victorian era, Staffies were known as the ‘Nanny Dog’ because of their excellent temperament around children, and their ability to look after their wards.
For some dogs, children can become mobile buffet carts. They’re often running around with food in their hands, and if dropped, that food becomes ‘fair game’. Even with our own dogs, if you drop something and they’re quicker than you are, there can be an accidental clash of canine teeth and human hand! This doesn’t mean they’re aggressive; simply that we’re clumsy, and accidents happen.
If you’ve taken on a rescue dog who has had a bad past, has been unsocialised or generally mistreated, you may discover that as they get more and more comfortable with you and your household, they start to show a more mischievous side.
As they hadn’t had the opportunity to learn in their previous environment, they need to do all the puppy learning with you.
It’s really important that you don’t misread these signals though. Sometimes when a full-grown adult dog is acting like a puppy, it can seem like unpleasant behaviour. Little things such as grabbing your arm with their teeth to get your attention can be misinterpreted as an aggressive act - when it isn’t.
The best way to approach going home is to make completely sure that you have everything that you need already organised, and treat your new friend as though they have always lived with you. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they will feel.
Don’t Show Off!
It’s natural to want to show everyone your new friend - but don’t overdo things. Too many visitors for a new dog will be stressful, and you don’t want to ruin how comfortable they feel with you straightaway.
Too many people decide to show off their new friend at the park, a local fete, or even take them to a friend’s house. It can be overwhelming for them for so much to happen so quickly with someone they don’t even know properly just yet.
It’s important that you do different things with your new friend so that they don’t get into too much of a routine with you (and don’t get scared of new things), but don’t do too much too soon. You don’t yet know exactly how they react to different things in different situations - there’s a big learning curve for you both, so take it nice and steadily.