We have two dogs, an 8-year-old Boston Terrier and a 7-year-old Border Collie/Aussie mix. Both are relatively docile and people-friendly animals, and have never bitten anyone. But neither are accustomed to small children. And being that she is a terrier, I am a little concerned about the "mouthiness" of the Boston around my infant son.
They are very curious about each other. When given the chance, she licks his face incessantly (really gross, I know). He loves it, and belly laughs every time. He watches her intently and giggles at her when she's in the room. Up to this point, it's been pretty easy to keep him from grabbing at her. But he's on the move now. Once last week, he crawled up behind her and grabbed her back leg before I was able to stop him.
She didn't snap at him, but it was clear that it surprised her. At this age, he doesn't understand what it means to be "gentle." In turn, she doesn't understand that he doesn't mean to hurt her. So I'm afraid that one day he might grab her ear or poke her eye and that she'll react by biting.
Then there is the Border Collie. Whereas the Boston is very curious, the Border Collie is quite the opposite. I wouldn't say that she's completely indifferent to him. That would insinuate that her behavior is unchanged, when she actually goes out of her way to avoid him completely. She seems very uneasy around him. Because of that, I'm perhaps even more afraid of how she would react if he happened to grab at her fur or yank on her tail.
Until my son is old enough to understand what "gentle" means, I feel like my best bet is just to be very vigilant in my supervision of their interactions.
Do you have pets and small children? How do you manage their interactions and ensure that everyone stays safe and happy?
Photo by Flickr member Aaron E. Silvers, used under a Creative Commons License.