1) Don’t throw your cutlery or bowl when you are finished your food.
2) Don’t hurt the dogs.
Now throwing cutlery is easier solved. I can re-direct him to throw a ball, and recently he has been giving me his spoon. I also think it is a cry for attention: “I’m finished mom! You need to help me with this bib!”
Dogs, on the other hand, are an ongoing problem.
We have two dogs, Coffee and Milo. Milo is probably the one we should be more worried about (he is not as tolerant of Coffee) but he has more sense. He normally goes straight away and hides under the desk in the study in the mornings. Coffee, on the other hand, is a social dog and wants to be in the middle of everything. Unfortunately this means she is the prime target for Nicky to climb, hit, kick her or even ride his cars all over her body.
Readers of this blog have already seen the picture of him driving cars under her tail. She seems to tolerate that well enough, although we have to keep an eye on him.
About a year ago this video was doing the rounds on Facebook and it really alerted me to the way dogs try and communicate that things are not ok, even though you think they are. If we stay alert and see what they are saying then maybe we have a chance of preventing our worst nightmares: fatal dog bites. And it has happened.
Watch the video:
As you can see, the video gives us the following signs to be aware of:
1) Avoidance: this is what Milo does – he runs away. Smart dog.
2) Alert: Coffee puts her ears up and looks agitated.
3) Tongue flicks / licks- watch my video to see Milo doing this as Nicky approaches.
4) Whale eye: I know Coffee is really upset when her eyes are enlarged.
5) Pacing: Another sign of agitation.
6) Growling and
7) Showing teeth: I remember this happening with Milo. We went through a really bad patch with him. I think he has learnt now to keep away.
Here’s another video about how a bite could have been prevented. The dog is cornered and he is turning, showing he wants space, stiff and flicking his tongue too:
What I do to deal with the situation:
1) Redirection. Just like any other toddler misbehaviour, I redirect. Since the number one thing he wants to do is climb and move, bringing the scooter around normally works. That way he can climb on the scooter and move around without bothering the dog. (Of course you then have to watch that he doesn’t ride over her tail..)
2) Separation. This is often my last resort after I have repeatedly told him “No!” Just putting the dogs in another room for a while and distracting Nicky with something else is another way of dealing with the problem.
Here is a video I made showing Nicky, Coffee and Milo together outside. You’ll see Milo is very relaxed at the beginning (panting, blinks) and then when Nicky moves towards him you’ll see that tongue flick or lick. A slight tension and then Nicky turns around and walks the other way towards Coffee. Coffee is listening for her buddies next door and also sniffing the air. But her ears are up on high alert either way. Milo looks relaxed again at the end of the video.
I think in conclusion the best plan is to be very aware of the interactions between your toddler and your dog as well as their limitations so that if there is any problem you can catch it before it escalates. That way you can protect the ones you love in a way that acknowledges their temperaments and builds canine and human relationships in the generations to come.