- This topic has 77 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Ele4phant.
August 14, 2020 at 9:53 am #953864CopaParticipant
An old coworker of mine had the top third of one of her fingers bitten off by a dog through a gate. She’s well versed in dogs, their behavior, and body language (actually works f/t at an animal shelter now). She knew the dog, and it was always a nice, gentle one. Even the nicest of dogs can still be unpredictable. Like I said, my dog is the sweetest, most gentle dog — he loves kittens and babies, and I love seeing him interact with other creatures and people — but sometimes when I see how my boyfriend’s five-year-old niece interacts with him out of excitement, I think to myself, “This is how nice dogs snap.” So I keep a close eye on things, and try to help her understand how to be respectful of and safe around animals when she gets to be too much. Safety SHOULD be something that concerns the neighbor mom, TBH.August 14, 2020 at 10:47 am #953979Ele4phantGuest
To be clear – I certainly think there’s plenty the mother is doing that could be addressed. But she didn’t write in.
I do get where you’re coming from, but also, these are tough times all around and no matter how obnoxious it may be, there’s a limit to what you can control going on in the other yard.
It is to bad you lead with “my yard, my dog, my sense of peace”, that does make you come across as prickly and inflexible
whereas leading with “he’s a young excitable dog that isn’t fully trained, I’m worried about everyone’s safety”, that probably would’ve landed much better.
I’d say let it lie for a while, and then when everyone’s had a chance to chill out, you could try reproaching the topic from the safety angle.
Also – I think you could maybe offer some more supervised little girl/doggie time. As in, maybe actually invite her over, let her play with the dog, and you can be part of teaching her how we’re supposed to treat doggies. You don’t have to, of course, but it would be an incredibly gracious thing to do and I bet it would be a god send to your neighbor.
We had been in our home about a year before Covid. We didn’t really know our neighbors, didn’t really feel compelled to try to get to know them that better. But Covid has changed that, we’ve spent a lot of time just shooting the sh*t and feels like we’re part of a community. I like it, it’s been one of the silver linings of this very strange and scary times.
Your mileage may vary, but this could be the opportunity to build a long, lovely relationship with your neighbors you might not have otherwise. Maybe in five years you’ll find you have you have a free, nine year old dog walker that will always say yes if you need help in a pinch.August 14, 2020 at 10:56 am #953998HelenGuest
I had the same thought ele4phant. If all goes well, in a few years when bondgirl has to work late, or stay out overnight, she has neighbors who would be eager to feed, water, & let the dog out. Makes life so much easierAugust 14, 2020 at 11:02 am #954013
The thing is, you can’t control how the mom behaves or the girl. You spoke to them, it doesn’t seem to have gone well and other than carefully supervising them when you are out with the dog, I don’t really know how much you can really hope they will change regarding this. Right or wrong, you can’t change what they do. So you should try and come up with ideas for what you can do to make this easier for yourself.
Is there a way you can get the new fence expedited? Can you enjoy the yard early in the morning or later in the evening? Or exercise the dog elsewhere?
Yes, her parents should teach the kids how to interact with dogs, but you can’t actually ensure that or really expect that is going to happen. Literally no dog owner expects small children to know what to do around their dog, and they can’t. They can train their dog and supervise interactions with kids.
Even if they did or are trying to teach her how to behave with your dog, a four year old largely acts on impulse, like a caveman. Expecting a bored, lonely kid (because they’ve been in quarantine for 6 months, not because they are sometimes out in their yard on their own) to be well behaved, rational and act the way we want is not going to go well.
I would try to be empathetic to their situation and realistic in what you can expect from them. Assume nothing changes, what can you do to ensure your dog doesn’t nip the children? Could you come up with a additional barrier between the your pup and the fence? Could you invite the kids to pet/play for 20 minutes a day? Can you ask the girl to “help” you train your puppy and ask her not to yell? I don’t know what the solution is, but if you value living in a fairly peaceful place, I would not lecture or parent shame your neighbors.August 14, 2020 at 11:26 am #954066ejo1218219Guest
While I absolutely agree that quarantine stress has likely blown this situation up more than necessary, I’m a little surprised at all the sympathy being extended to the mom and 4 year old simply due to covid burnout. At the end of the day the little girl is at best overexcited about the dog and coming off as rude to the OP, and at worst behaving in a way that she could end up getting hurt. Dogs are animals, and even the sweetest, nicest dog can have an incident. Children need to be taught to never, ever stick their hands and fingers through fences to pet dogs, even ones they know. You just never know how the dog will react, and though the OP is out supervising her dog it only takes an instant for something horrible to happen. My dog is very sweet, but I still get anxious when children run up to him with hands waving to pet him when we are out walking. At least when we are on a walk and he’s leashed I’m able to have a lot more control over the situation. If children were sticking their hands onto my property to interact with my dog while he was playing in my backyard off leash, I would be super uncomfortable and nervous too.
It doesn’t sound like OP is completely unwilling to let the little girl interact with her dog, she just wants there to be boundaries, which is reasonable. The four year old can absolutely be taught that hanging on the fence and yelling for the dog is not the way to go about it. She needs to ask the OP “may I pet your dog?” and then be respectful when OP says the visit is over. OP, I’m not sure where you are at with your training but maybe you can see if there are ways to get the little girl involved and let her help from time to time? I know when our puppy training class was working on recalls, “leave it,” and leash walking, they would have us take turns trying to “distract” the other families’ dogs to correct behavior in the moment (e.g. throwing treats off to the side, etc.). It might be a nice way for you to have some more real life distractions to reinforce your dog’s training (my dog can do a perfect recall when we are alone in the backyard, but if there was a playmate with a yummy treat trying to lure his attention away it would be much more challenging for him and really test the skill). If it’s something you’re open to there can be a benefit for everyone, the dog gets more practice and socialization, the little girl gets to spend time with the dog in a way that’s supervised and she can feel like she’s helping, and the mom would get a little break too.August 14, 2020 at 11:36 am #954090Ele4phantGuest
Ejo – I mean I agree with everything you say, but the mom isn’t the one who wrote in.
No matter how in the wrong the mom is, and how right bondgjrl is, she can only do so much about a kid who isn’t hers and is on property that isn’t hers. That’s just that.
I *do* think it’s a good idea to focus on the long game. We don’t chose our neighbors, but we do have to live next to them. Sometimes bending a little, even when we don’t *have* to, even when we’re the ones that are in the right, to maintain neighborly peace goes a long way to make our general quality of life better.August 14, 2020 at 11:52 am #954125
Yeah, exactly. The mom hasn’t written in for advice, and since no one can control how others behave, the advice is catered to the OP. In situations like this, with unknowns- the way a dog will react, what a four year old does- I advice the OP to cover her own ass and make her yard as safe as she can while trying to keep the peace as much as possible.
Parent shaming the mom on here does nothing to help Bondgirl’s situation.August 14, 2020 at 11:55 am #954132BittergaymarkGuest
I think everybody but the dog — and yes, I am including the kid — is in the wrong here and way over the top as far as drama.August 14, 2020 at 12:03 pm #954152FyodorGuest
Yeah, when dealing with neighbors it’s about trying to navigate it amicably while adequately protecting your own interests. It doesn’t matter who is “right.”August 14, 2020 at 12:08 pm #954162ejo1218219Guest
I did provide suggestions for the OP to get the little girl involved if she’d like and have it be a more positive experience for everyone. I absolutely feel for the mom and the little girl, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the OP to talk to the mom and say she’s very uncomfortable with how the little girl is initiating contact with the dog at this point, and she’d like to come up with something that works better for everyone. I know the mom didn’t write in so we can only provide advice to OP, but I really don’t think it’s mom-shaming to validate the OP’s concerns that if something horrible were to happen it would be a huge mess and that she’s not being unreasonable when it comes to trying to create boundaries that will keep everyone safer.August 14, 2020 at 1:30 pm #954347ele4phantGuest
I definetly think there’s an opportunity to let everyone cool off for the next few days, and then reapproach the topic with some contrition and a solution to smooth things over. Again, it’s not necessarily Bondgirl’s job to make it right, she’s by far not the only one in the wrong, but sometimes life isn’t about being right it’s about making concessions to get along with others. I bet she could say something along the lines of:
Hey, I’ve been mulling over our last interaction, and I feel bad. I’ve definitely been stressed and tense by the last several months, and I can only imagine what it’s like for you. I definitely got snappish and reacted in a way that’s normal for me. I do think it’s sweet how much your daughter likes the new puppy, and don’t want to totally deprive her off puppy time. The thing is, he’s still not totally trained and I’m worried that he might get nippish or just overally excited and hurt her. think the last thing I want is for her to get bitten. I also just worry about that state of that fence, it’s starting to get pretty beaten down, I worry it might collapse on her. What if we set up regular puppy-little girl play dates. You two can come over on a regular basis and we can let them play with supervision. Then, if you can try to help keep her away from the fence at other times, we can both enjoy hanging out in our yards iwthout having to watch those two like hawks. Sound good to you?
Speaking of the fence, what do you think about going into together to replace/fix that sucker? That way we can pick something we both feel like looking at. It’s going to be time soon anyways, might as well get it done now when we’re all home and can agree on something we both like, immma right?”
Who knows, it may not work, Bondgirl may have scorched the earth, or maybe the neighbor is just totally unreasoanble, but I bet there’s a way to calmly bring this back to a good place (and maybe even get her to split the cost of a new fence! Wouldn’t that be sweet).
Worth a try. And if that doesn’t work, well you can’t cotnrol them so figure out how to use your yard when the kid isn’t likely to be in theirs.August 14, 2020 at 3:27 pm #954611
You wrote you were surprised so much empathy is being extended to the mother and child due to Covid burnout…
Most of us had comments including that parents should teach their kids about being careful around dogs. That we were able to do that without insulting her neighbor’s parenting shouldn’t be surprising. The mother had already cut their interactions down to once a day. That’s pretty good boundary setting for a four year old, I think.
Approaching her neighbors with attitude about their parenting or lack there of will do nothing to mend fences. Most people can understand that being neighbors is generally much easier when there is not drama and tension there. That’s where empathy comes in.