Should I keep the dog, and give away the kids instead? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-18-2015, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Should I keep the dog, and give away the kids instead?

Hi Mamas, I haven't been no Mothering in years, but right now I could use some guidance. Please don't take offense to the title of my post. I'm flustered and upset, and only think about giving away my kids 3x a day. I have two more times left today to think such thought that I will not ever act upon.

(Below is the SHORT version of the last few months.)

We adopted a little dachshund min-pin mix from a local rescue. We thought and thought about a dog for a long time, but DH was convinced that DD (5) would be elated with a dog. "It's when she's most happy," he'd say. And she was. . .along as she could carry it everywhere, and basically pretend it was her baby/toy/dog, in that order. The problems started when DD would act like the dog was her dog exclusive of DS (3), so then DS would do anything to get to the dog, ie: run after it, tease it with food so it would follow him, pick it up the moment she put it down. She would counter with taking the dog to her room, and closing the door. Both of them love it too much, and it's causing problems for everyone. We called a dog trainer through the rescue. She came out and observed for hours and thought the kids and the dog were both trainable.

Skip to now, and it is worse. The trainer said no one can carry the dog, so that took away DD's primary way of bonding with the dog. I agree completely, but DD always sees me carrying the dog away from her because ultimately she is doing something "mean" to the dog to get it's attention. She will put it on a chair when she thinks no one is looking, and corner it there so she can sit with it. She will drag if from under a table to get the dog on her lap. Last night, DH put her in her room for reaching up two stairs and pulling the dog down to her by it's front legs. Her aggression towards the dog, although not meant to be mean, is causing us much grief. The yelling in our house has increased dramatically. We are in a constant state of trying to protect the dog from their attention when all we wanted was a dog they could interact with, a family dog. We don't have a dog. I have a dog, and two children that cannot just let the dog alone.

DH wants the rescue to take the dog back for the dog's sake, and put her in a "safer home." I think we should continue with training of both dog and children, although the children don't seem to be able to follow even the most basic rules. I'm not sure where I failed the most, as a parent who's children won't listen at all, or as a doggie mom.

What would you do? And how would you explain it to the

P.S. Right now this is happening:

DS: Why is her cage off limits?

Me: Because that's where she goes to rest in peace, and get away. It's safe to her, like your room.

DS: Walks over to cage, and puts his head in while she's in there chewing on a toy.

Me: You are not obeying the rules about the dog and her cage. I walk over, and move him away. Two seconds later, he goes over and starts to lock her cage door saying it's too early for her to be up. I walk over again, and move him. I redirect to a toy on the floor, so he starts throwing the pieces at the dog and then laughs when the dog runs off with his pieces. Then yells when the dog doesn't give them back.

This is insanity.
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#2 of 13 Old 05-18-2015, 09:15 AM
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Besides correcting the kids, what methods are you using to teach them the right behavior with the dog? I'd try and take away privileges to interact with the dog at all for a while after each offense (strictly and seriously enforced, physically stopping them if needed), and involve them more in proper interactions when they're doing it correctly. Involve them with properly leading with a leash, rewarding the dog with kibble or treats, grooming the dog and playing fetch. They might enjoy training him to follow a scent drag trail in the yard, he is a hound with ancestors bred for small mammal hunting. Anyway, follow the trainer's direction closely, she is the expert. It takes time and diligence, and firmness to teach anybody right behaviors, and they won't learn it overnight.

But please don't let anybody guilt you about it if you do make the decision to give the dog up. So many people get this inflexible moral stance about how it's NEVER right to give up a pet. But your children come first, they are human and they are yours by blood. If the pet and the kids simply can't live together, after some serious attempts at training both of them you might need to give up the pet. Perhaps when they are a little older you can try again with a different breed of dog, maybe one that is medium sized (too big to carry) and great with children. Collie comes to mind. Retrievers are great too.
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#3 of 13 Old 05-19-2015, 10:55 AM
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I'm not sure if it's too late to switch it up like this, but with kids that little the dog should belong to *you* not them. It sounds like your DD feels ownership over the dog, and that it at least part of what is causing problems. Ideally you could go back in time and make it very clear when introducing the dog to them that it belonged to you, but you may be able to make the switch now.

The woman who watches my son and my friend's son is masterful at this; it really helps the kids be able to get along well and not argue over toys, because she claims the space, so they really accept her word as final even though they're playing at the friend's house. You'd think he would be much more possessive of his space/things, but she lays claim to her domain when she's watching them, so there isn't ever an argument over what belongs to whom.

When I dropped DS off this morning they were talking about what they were going to do that day, and the boys wanted different places. Just as it was starting to escalate (but *I* want to go to the park, not the bouncy house!) she said, "Boys, where we go will be my decision. We all agree that we want to go run and jump. Let me think about where would be the best place to do that." And that pretty much ended all discussion of where to go.

Anyway - my point being that there shouldn't be any question over who owns the dog, and it can't be either kid, both kids, or even a "family dog."

And if it really isn't working, don't feel bad about giving the dog back. Maybe now is just not the best time.

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#4 of 13 Old 05-19-2015, 10:52 PM
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We've had a similar but less-intense time with our puppy. When we got her, we thought she'd grow to 35-40 pounds, but she's not going to be much more than 20. She just didn't grow and didn't grow (mama was an Australian Shepherd, the father is unknown must have been ambitious). This meant both kids (6 and 8) could pick her up. Our daughter was basically good with her and gets that she's not a toy, but our son has had all sorts of problems. Strict discipline with clear limits about what he can do with the dog and reliable consequences has been very helpful. Also a lot of praise when he does well with her. But he's 6, not 3. Honestly, I just would not have tried with a puppy with kids that young as difficult as mine are, and if we'd have known this dog would be this little I'm not sure we would have picked her. A larger dog at least presents the challenge of weight. I feel for you, but if you are worried about the well-being of the dog and there is a rescue that will take her back, I'd consider it.
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#5 of 13 Old 05-20-2015, 05:56 AM
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If the dog is young and doesn't have behavior issues I would definitely re-home it because it will get placed quickly -there's usually a wait for smaller dogs at adoption places, at least where I live. It's completely not fair to that dog. The say dogs are great for kids, but kids aren't always great for dogs, and I think this is the case here. As a pp mentioned you have a 3yo and you are not going to make much progress with his behavior simply because he's only 3.

Reconsider getting another dog in 5 years.
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#6 of 13 Old 05-21-2015, 06:04 AM
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disclaimer: I never had a dog and no knowledge about dogs. (but i have a 5y.o., 3y.o and 7months old humans)

What I think is really sad in this situation, is that it affects negatively your relationship with your kids.
your kids are way too young to resist the temptation to constantly play with the dog. I mean, I am 34y.o. ad pre-diabetic. I know how bad eating too much chocolate is for me. Yet,I can't resist, and eat way too much chocolate! and I am 34! not 3 and 5 like your kids!
I think it's simply unfair to expect them to have limits with the dog.
But the dog needs those limits.
So the dog is not well in your family.

But I am not worried about the dog, I am worried about your kids, the relationship you are developing with them and the amount of yelling at your house. It is unfair to your kids (and to you!).
as a pp said, wait 5 years to try again. They should be developmentally better at leaving the dog in peace sometimes.

I still struggle with the chocolate though.....
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#7 of 13 Old 05-21-2015, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by lilitchka View Post
I think it's simply unfair to expect them to have limits with the dog.

I really disagree with you.

I think that children can learn that others have feelings and that it isn't always about them, which is really what the children need to do. They need to learn empathy for the dog, rather than just being focused on what they want in the moment. Nearly all 5 year olds are capable of this, and some 3 year olds are. The notion that it is unfair for children to practice self restraint for the well being of another creature strikes me as recipe to raise a very self centered human being. This isn't an ability that suddenly develops when a child is 8 or 10, it is something that parents teach.

Some children would prefer to continue to be the center of the universe and base all their actions on what they want in the moment, and not being allowed to do so makes them unhappy in the short term. The child finding a way to be OK even though they are doing what is best for another rather than what they feel like, though, is the basis for healthy relationships throughout their life.

I don't know what the OPer should do. We are totally a dog family. That said, we gave away a dog when our children were very young because we couldn't properly care for it and our kids.

We got another dog when our kids were about the age of the OPers, but it was a bigger dog -- a rescued golden retriever than weighed more than the kids. My kids learned to keep their toys and shoes picked up because he was a chewer Growing up with dogs helped my kids learn empathy and responsibility. However, we didn't deal with the issues the OPer is, and I can see why they are driving her nuts.

May be it would help to soften the choice -- accept that both options (keeping the dog and continuing to work through the challenges, or giving the dog back and trying again in a couple of years with a bigger dog) are totally OK. Neither is right, neither is wrong. They are just two options, and you and your DH can select the one you prefer without any guilt.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 13 Old 05-22-2015, 06:22 AM
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I think you are right that it is a good think if the dog was there from the beginning. I would never advise to get rid of a dog that was there before the child was born,and that the child got accustomed to..But I find it is too much to ask from kids so young all of a sudden.
the dog was not for the parents, the op mentioned that they got it to make the kids happy. so the process is centred on them, they ate the center of the world in this case. it would have been different if parents got the dog for themselves. it wouldn't be so overwhelming for the kids.
and I do think that a 9y.o. hase more skills then a 3y.o. to deal with limits regarding another human being.
Maybe if Op's 5y.o. daughter was a unique child, it could work (but still with problems), because she is older,and she doesn't have to compete with the 3yo.

I am absolutely convinced that it is unfair for the kids to lose connection with their parents (screaming, disciplining ect) because parents thought that having a dog is a good idea now.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-22-2015, 11:12 AM
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We tried having dogs when the kids were very little. It was quite a failure. You seem to have rescued a very tolerant dog. We had dogs before kids. Then when we had kids, it was just SO MUCH WORK. With the dogs and the kids. We returned two to rescues at different points in the kids lives. Finally, when my youngest was 4, we got a Newfoundland puppy. A big dog! The kids bothered him a lot but I trained him and got them involved in the training. I have videos of my 4 yr old in her squeaky voice telling the dog to sit and roll over. It's really cute. But the key thing was having a big dog. They couldn't pick him up and carry him around. Plus, since they were involved in his care and training and exercise, they kind of got the dog pestering out of their systems. And I really involved them. Is that something you can do? My kids went for walks with the dog and me, they kicked a soccer ball around for him, they trained him, they took turns feeding him. Being so involved in all the care that goes into a dog really helped them leave the dog alone the rest of the time. And they all learned two things: DON'T touch the dog while he eats and DON'T bother the dog in his crate. It was exhausting and I said we would never get another dog. lol

When my youngest was 8, I finally felt ready to add a second, more active dog. I love my newf, but he's a big laid back ho-hum. I was ready for crazy dog for myself so I got a border collie mix. The kids do fine with her now that they're older but I NEVER would have gotten her when they were younger. She's too reactive and loud and attention demanding.

What you seem to be having a problem with is pet boundaries and your children. I agree with a previous poster about the dog needing to be yours. If the dog is perceived as everyone's, why should they not pick up the dog and pester him constantly? However, you also have 5 and 3yr old kids. That's really little and I can see why some kids might not be able to resist the temptation to love on the dog constantly. While my kids were 4, 6 and 8 they grew up with cats (we have 3 now) so were used to giving animals space when needed. The dog and child relationship is a LOT of work. I returned two dogs to rescues because of this. Maybe I'm a terrible person for doing that but really, if the situation does not work, there are other homes out there for the dog, especially if he's little. Try a dog a little later when the kids are a bit older. My kids were sad when we up our rescue dogs, but they moved on pretty quickly.

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#10 of 13 Old 05-28-2015, 01:06 PM
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Just wanted to add, our first dog two years before we got our puppy. She was a wonderful old friend, and I missed her terribly, didn't want another dog for quite some time. When our kids were babies, she'd sleep right next to the bassinet if we left them alone in a room. She was nearly 16, which is pretty old for a 65 pound dog. That said, when I was ready, we weren't ready as a family. My daughter was but not my son. I just had to wait and have "dog envy" for what felt like forever.

I believe dogs are sentient beings who deserve respectful treatment, and it sounds like you do, too. Although my kids would always come first, I wouldn't put an animal through a tough time at their hands. I briefly considered taking back our puppy, when we were realizing she was going to be small and my son was having a hard time learning how to play with her nicely. If he hadn't been able to change, I think would have had to do that.
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#11 of 13 Old 05-29-2015, 04:46 AM
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It looks like you've already gotten some great advice. I agree that it sounds like by allowing the dog to be be picked up/manipulated, the dog has become a toy rather than a fellow being living in the house.

I managed a dog kennel, and trained my own dogs, before having kids. I was always bothered by the families that allowed their kids to just do anything to the dog...then brag about it, "Rover is SUCH a great dog, the kids can do ANYTHING to him, and he just allows it!" I remember thinking that the dog should NOT have to put up with that sort of abuse.

Not that I'm saying that you're allowing the kids to be mean to your dog, BUT, it sounds like they aren't observing boundaries at all. I agree that probably the biggest thing is not to pick the dog up, or go into the crate.

I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation. At this point, I'd probably give him back to the rescue, so he can go to a calmer home. And I'd tell the kids that maybe you can try again in a year or two. Maybe there can be a trial run by dog-sitting a friend's dog at some point? Have you sat down and told the kids that unless they can observe the rules the dog is going to have to leave? I'm wondering if the consequence of that would help them be more observant?

*sigh* I don't know. It is tough. When I was pregnant with my last baby (who just turned two), I was dealing with my partner's dog, who had major separation anxiety (he was a rescue), and I'd come home to huge destructive messes and it was SO FRUSTRATING. We tried everything with this dog, and nothing was working. I just wanted to make him vanish. BUT...he was a sweet dog, and great with people and our other dog, and who would take him if we gave him up? He would have just been put down. So, we just kept working with him, and now he's much better.

However, if there had been issues between him and the kids, we would have been more inclined to find a home for him that would have been better-suited. As it turns out, we have a good situation for him, he just had to get over his fears.

Good luck, and like someone said upthread, I would NOT feel guilty about returning the dog, if that makes more sense for your family.
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#12 of 13 Old 05-30-2015, 04:59 AM
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Complicated subject. My take on it is that the dog is just caught in the middle and is an easy place for them to play out their issues. The issues will not go away if the dog does, they will only find something else to displace them onto.

I agree to make the dog yours. Dogs need an 'alpha' anyway to reduce confusion (such as with wild dogs needing a 'leader of the pack.') Issues such as kids not listening to your directions (as with the dog crate example) go beyond the dog and are likely to be present in other places as well, so getting rid of the dog isn't going to help that. It still takes work and consistent follow through to foster children that listen to your directions.

Competetiveness between the kids around the dog simply seems like they just have competetiveness with one another. This could be due to temperament, differences in how they are treated by parents, or other factors we can't see. Your dd may be looking for a way to be and feel special through the dog. Find a replacement activity for that yearning.

Just some random thoughts.


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#13 of 13 Old 08-04-2020, 05:33 AM
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When I bought a dog for my kids, who wanted him for a long time, I also taught them how to behave with him. They were little and they didn't know that dogs have feelings too and that you need to take care of them not only to play with them. It was very difficult at the beginning, but I managed to teach them. However, I also take care of him, because my kids sometimes forget to feed him and if someone is interested I buy only premium food based on natural ingredients from, but of course, I have consulted a vet.
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