|Reef patiently allows Declan to pet her|
|Declan stares in wonder at his buddy Biko|
Very often in rescue, we see dogs that are turned in as being "not good with kids," who realistically were just never allowed to appropriately reject unwanted invasions ("pets" or "hugs") into their personal space. A lot of humans, and in particular young kids, don't recognize the signs that a dog shows when he does or doesn't want to be petted. In teaching my son how to pet the dogs, I'm trying to also pay attention to the dogs' body language when they're around him, which would indicate to me whether they're comfortable with the interaction with the baby. Here's a fantastic video I found which demonstrates what dog body language looks like when he doesn't want to be petted:
While I know that it's going to be a long road to teach my son how to respectfully pet the dogs, I also know that paying attention to their body language and signs will definitely go a long way towards making sure that they're comfortable with the interaction as well. Right now they just merely tolerate the baby, which is fine for now, but one day I hope to be able to answer the question "How do the dogs get along with the baby?" by saying that they're best friends, and knowing that the dogs truly think so too!