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4 year old will not act appropriately with our dogs.. please help.
I am at the end of my rope. Mommy's losing her sh*t. We have 2 large dogs that are wonderful. But they are big, and they are dogs, and I have been trying since day one to teach my son how to respect animals and to understand the differences between them and humans. Weve had these dogs long before our son was born so this is nothing new. He loves to hug them, and we have limited this from the start. I wish we had never even allowed him to hug them for the 3 seconds he was allotted. One of our dogs is going on 14, is full of arthritis but still has a lot of love and life left in him. He is fantastic with our son but I live in constant fear that my son will touch the wrong spot and Hayden will snap (this happened to me when I was little with our german shepherd. My mother warned me, I went to see her and she came after me. She was old and full of arthritis and put down after that). Anyhow, Hayden gives plenty of signals so I know when he doesn't want my son close. He just likes to lay around. Our other girl is younger but much flightier than the other dog and has a shorter fuse. ( in all honesty, I'm sure if I were them I would have bit my son a long time ago.) Ill try to shorten this up: I find we are in a horrible cycle of repeating ourselves as parents (its just me during the week as my husband works out of town). So I know being on my own during the week has made it more stressful for me, and lately every. freaking. day. countless times I find myself scolding my son, asking why he keeps doing this and that and repeating why its not appropriate. He hugs them, grabs their faces, puts his face in theirs, leans over them, all very inappropriate behaviors with animals. Ill even find him kick them when he thinks I'm not looking. I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE! Weve tried timeouts, taking things away, separating him from the dogs (which doesn't work great cuz we have a small house). And I try to explain it as simply as possible. Now I find myself yelling, which I know doesn't help but I lose my temper after going through this repeatedly. PS I also praise him when he is good with them, but then he goes right back to it a few minutes later. I don't know what else to do. I'm losing my mind.