"My child doesn't need 'kisses' from your dog"
Food for thought:
I went to a dog show a few weekends ago with Gabby, my 14 month old daughter, and no dogs. I went to watch some of my students compete and show my support. I knew it would be tough to watch my child around all those dogs in their territory and run a dog, so I didn't even attempt to show. Anyhoo...here is a scenario that happened:
Gabby was in her stroller and we were watching the dogs run. A woman, unknown to me, came up with her two goldens. One was older and they both seemed very nice. She asked me if my daughter could meet the dogs. I said, "sure" and then watched them interact. Gabby didn't really care as she meets and greets many dogs on a daily basis in our lives. The woman really wanted Gabby to get excited so she started tapping the tray on the stroller to get the dogs to look up and focus on Gabby. I couldn't figure out what she was trying to get out the situation but then realized she wanted them to give my daughter 'kisses'. At that moment, one of the dogs started in for the big lick. Gabby still wasn't even looking at them as she was watching the action on the course. I stuck my hand right between that dog's kiss and my child's face. I politely said, "oh, we don't need kisses from the doggie". She pulled her dogs back and said in a slightly annoyed tone, "if there's no food or kisses, then we aren't interested." She walked away with her two sweet dogs.
Hmmmm....I thought about this for a while. After being a dog trainer for many years before becoming a parent, I was constantly annoyed with the lack of instruction from other parents when having their children meet dogs. It is a huge problem and the dog always gets blamed for the parent's lack of knowledge on animal behavior. I have some amazing stories to tell of my dogs and parents bringing their kids up to them to meet and how they (the parents) behaved with their kids. In this situation, it never occured to me that the dog owners can be just as bad. Why would any dog owner ask their dog to get into a child's face, especially a strangers child? My logical thinking brain can only assume that she thought I was a spectator there with my young child and wanted to help show they were a friendly bunch and give a good experience to my child. I don't assume the worst in people but it made me realize it's not always the parent but probaby equally the dog owner.
My 'take away' thought to you: Don't be afraid to speak up and control the situation if you aren't comfortable. I wasn't afraid to stop the kisses even though my animal behavior knowledge told me the dogs were fine and safe, but I wasn't comfortable with them kissing Gabby. If you are the owner of a dog that likes kids, think about how you can appropriately use your dog to educate children and parents in situations like those.
Gabby's waking up, gotta go.....