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When My Kids & Dogs Collide

Flopping like a fish on the floor, I pick up my screaming toddler and make a quick exit to the car. I quickly scan the parking lot. Please Jesus, hopefully the neighbors don't wonder what the heck is happening at the business next door.

---Thirty seconds earlier---

"Mom, can I pet that puppy?"

Actually quite out of character for him, my three year-old son spotted a new dog yesterday at work and deemed it a necessity to say hello.

"Sure, Ander. Let me get her and see if she wants to be pet."

Upon picking up the dog, I immediately spotted her hesitation and told my kiddo he wouldn't be able to pet her today. "You can toss her treats instead, buddy!" Nope. Not happening. Flopping fish child on the floor. Embarrassed mom. Quick exit to the car. Three kids in, and I still don't know what everyone means by the terrible twos! Threenagers are much, much scarier!

I tend to brag that my kids are typically "dog neutral." We have so many training dogs in and out of our house. It just becomes somewhat of second nature to them. They get excited to love on the dogs they know, but they also respect space and leave dogs alone. They know the rules for safety. They understand how to be awesome helpers and follow the guidance given when I ask them for help with a dog. Until they don't.

Last week when playing outside, my daughter continued to call our Malinois puppy to "come," and yet the little Chicken Nugget, as Iva calls her, still continued to pounce at every leaf that whisked by. My inner soul cringed. We don't repeat commands, and we definitely don't call dogs to come when we can't control the outcome. But in that moment, I chose to set that thought aside and just enjoy watching the dog and child play together; the dog learning that the kid has fun with her in the fall leaves, the child learning that whatever training she was trying to provide was not working for her.

So, did I make the wrong choice? As a trainer, maybe. As a mom, no. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves some grace and let those things go. No human or dog was in danger. At the end of the day, I know distractible little Chicken Nugget will come when I call her and my kids aren't allowed unsupervised with her yet, so this situation doesn't matter. My protection sport dog might be a little behind at mondio class this week, but my child's heart is full.

We can't always get it right. Surely the threenagers will have meltdowns, and the teenagers will feed the dog a potato chip here and there.

Do small compromises always lead to big disasters? No. I don't think so. I think the wrong compromises and repeated compromises can lead to big disasters.

Enjoy your kiddos. Enjoy your canines. Enjoy the chaos. Enjoy the collision. Some day that puppy will be a well trained veteran with a gray face, and some day that child will be embarrassed when you tell the story of him flopping like a fish. And you will miss it, so don't miss it now.

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About The Author: Megan is the owner and lead trainer of Havana Dog Training. She has been training canines for over 8 years and specializes in behavior modification, training foundations, and working with families and young children.

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