Kids and dogs don’t always mix

Dear Grandparenting: I have always been a dog person. Now I’m a grandparent person to three young grandkids who are still figuring out how they’re supposed to behave. Two are hyperactive but maybe that’s youthful energy.

That brings us to my two dogs, more specifically my two older dogs. They feel like I do on certain days. We three get cranky. Don’t mess with me or else.

My dogs are not used to children floating in and out of my place. So far, so good, but you can most likely connect the dots. If my grandkids get smart and tease or scare or annoy the dogs, they could get a whole lot more than they bargained for.

This is not the sort of thing I want to keep me awake at night. I already have the occasional nightmare. I am not about to teach my old dogs any new tricks, like how to get along with everyone. So my question is this: How do I teach my grandchildren a new trick, like how to behave around dogs? I do not want to have to always be the one to get up and go visit them. It’s so much easier when the grandkids visit me. You must understand that. Louis Napier, Rock Hill, South Carolina

Dear Louis: We already understand one thing: it’s wishful thinking to believe this situation is anything other than an accident waiting to happen.

Excluding freshwater fish, dogs are the most popular pets in America. But man’s best friend packs a bite that sends more than 380,000 victims to hospitals annually and is among the leading causes of child emergency rooms visits.

Children are most likely to be bitten in their head, face or neck. Even if they’re not bitten or the bite was minor, a close encounter with an angry dog can produce emotional trauma and scars, as plenty of adults will attest.

Dogs are programmed to consider adults their alpha masters but could regard little people as their equals or subordinates. Grandkids make strange noises and sudden movements that bother dogs.

Some canines simply don’t like children. Maybe they have little or no exposure to kids or a bad history. Once a dog has been taunted or teased by a child, it may be unable to trust again. As a rule of thumb, separate canines and kids until the latter has their impulses under control and can be trusted to behave.

As for the foreseeable future, we urge you take the trouble to travel to your grandchildren’s house. Rest assured the dogs will be happier, and your grandchildren, substantially safer.


Dino Smith from Kingsport, Tennessee, reports that grandson Johnny, 7, was not pleased with the haircut that Dino’s barber gave him.

When Jake returned home, his mother asked how his grandfather liked Johnny’s new look.

“There wasn’t anything left to like,” said Jake. “Grandpa told the barber to cut everything off. He said he was positive there were rats in there somewhere.”

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By Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.