This morning was one of those sweet, endearing moments that you have with children and dogs. My 21 month old son was playing and my two whippets were hanging out near him. Completely unprompted he walked over to the youngest whippet Dessa, grabbed her muzzle and gently kissed her on the nose. My husband and I melted, it was the sweetest most adorable thing. We said “Aw, did you kiss the puppy?” and he grinned with delight, clapped his hands and walked towards the other dog. My older whippet Lemmy is good, but not comfortable around my son at all. As I held Lemmy’s muzzle lightly so my son could ever so gently kiss his nose the alarm bells started ringing in my head. “What the heck am I doing? What if he tries to kiss a dog he doesn’t know? What if it’s the neighbor’s dog, or a friend’s dog – or a strange dog?” Without making a fuss I gently directed his next kiss to Lemmy’s back, midway down his body. I quickly relayed to my husband – “Don’t let him kiss Dessa’s face. Make sure you show him where to kiss her on the back.” He ran back and forth between the dogs with a huge smile “kissing” both dogs on the back.
Why did a ruin a lovely Kodak moment? I could have grabbed my camera and got absolutely adorable pictures of him kissing them on the nose. Thankfully I realized right away that it was a bad move – just like dogs, kids will repeat any behavior that elicits a positive reaction from you. Us cooing over him “kissing the puppies” would definitely make him repeat the behavior. In the same vein if I would have freaked out and said “WE DON’T KISS PUPPIES EVER!!” I could guarantee that he’d spend the next few days trying to kiss those dogs faces every chance he got. I hope that by redirecting him to a slightly safer behavior that if we don’t call attention to it he’ll forget about it. I figured kissing their back in the middle of their body vs. directly approaching and grabbing their faces was a safer alternative. The last thing in the world I want him to do is approach a dog directly from the front, grab it’s muzzle and put his face in contact with their nose.
I might have to be careful about kissing the puppies too, which I do all the time. Monkey see monkey do!