Kids and dogs are a hot topic for me; one that treads on a thin line between meant to be and a disaster waiting to happen. Having been at the Pet Expo for several hours on Friday just reminds me of how much lack of "dog knowledge" many parents have and teach their children. Being a Mom myself; and admittedly an over protective Mom at that; there are many kid/dog interactions that make me shutter. As a dog trainer I have witnessed many incidents that shocked me.
It is the humans responsibility to educate our children about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior with dogs. Far too often I hear the phrase "she is going to bite you." If you think your dog is being pushed to her limit and will eventually bite your child; things are not as they should be. Leaving the disciplining up to your dog is a very big mistake. If you do not teach your child how to treat your dog appropriately then you risk your childs safety in many ways. One with the fact that your own dog may bite your child and two; you have not taught your child how to treat other dogs who have the potential of biting them as well.
By leaving your dog in charge of discipline you also are not protecting your dog; that's where the defense mechanism comes in. If your dog feels the need to protect herself she will; which could result in her biting, which could end her in a bad situation. Almost all dogs give warning signs; your dog may have given your child many already. But children are care free and if they have not been taught then they either don't listen to the warning or simply don't care. Your dog will then be forced to up the warning until she can stand no more.
Dogs use sound and body language to communicate; it is important to watch closely. I have been in many homes when my protective instinct has hit and I have had to sit the parents down and give it to them straight. Even the best of dogs will bite; you can never say "my dog would never." SUPERVISION AND EDUCATION is a must with children and dogs. To strictly rely on the "my dog would never," idea and leave your child and dogs unsupervised is a dangerous situation indeed.
Watching small children reach over gates at the Pet Expo where they were met face to face by a strange dog had me on high altert. I cannot believe the amount of people who have not taught their children not to pet or hug before asking. EDUCATE AND SUPERVISE.