Along with white picket fences and apple pie the "american dream" seems to often include a family dog. Especially in Colorado. So many couples approach us wanting to adopt a dog before they start a family, or when their children are still young. Ideally it does seem wonderful for babies and toddlers to grow up with the warmth, love and snuggles of the family dog. However, in rescue, we see over and over again that many great dogs just aren't suited to live with young children. Keeping track of a young, crawling or toddling child is hard enough for parents 24/7 and then add an animal into the mix and often its a recipe for trouble.
Sweet, gorgeous MOKI was the apple of his human's eye before the baby arrived. Their life centered around Moki - he went to work with his mom and hung out at the office all day with the other dogs, hiked at lunch time and went to training some evenings. Life was great. Then one baby arrived and a year later another baby came. The house was busy, noisy, mom was stressed, going to work didn't always happen but Moki rolled with it all and enjoyed his new life as a huge stuffed animal for the babies. One day though it was nap time and Moki was sleeping under the crib and dad inadvertently closed the door of the bedroom leaving Moki in the room unsupervised with a toddler and a sleeping baby. No one knows exactly what happened but Moki nipped at the toddler, or moved his head quickly and clipped him with his teeth. No one will ever know. But suddenly Moki went from beloved family pet to out the door.
When my son was little I used to tell him "DOGS SAY NO WITH THEIR TEETH" and this is the true sad reality for thousands of dogs in America who are put in situations where they tell little people NO with their teeth.
It is never acceptable for a dog to growl or nip a child. However it is also not acceptable to believe that your dog will tolerate anything your child dishes out and supervision around young children and dogs is critical as is teaching proper behavior around dogs. At Summit Dog Rescue we just aren't fans of placing dogs in homes with small children. Some rescues have firm "NO CHILDREN UNDER 6" rules. We on occasion have dogs we feel are good candidates for young children, but its a case by case basis. We have decided that before a dog is placed in a family with small children our board needs to specifically review that placement beforehand. We would never want to place a child at risk, or set one of our dogs up for failure.