This week we had a great opportunity to visit children at a primary school. Since Beau will live with a little boy I want him to have positive experiences with children. If I do any environmental training with dogs in public spaces I am extremely strict in not allowing children to pet the dogs. Why? Because I think that children can easily behave in unpredictable way and I would rather not take any risks. The only of my dogs that had any interactions with strange children was Fenix, and there were only the children that politely asked if they can pet him. At the same time even if they were polite but Fenix was tired I would not allow it.
I am not saying puppies should not meet children. They should! As much as possible, but not every exposure is good exposure. And just as I do not take my puppies to meet completely strange dogs I would avoid meeting strange children. Taking Beau to school offers ideal chance to do it right. Yes we saw a lot of children but they were in a structured classroom environment and got instructions from their teacher on how to behave. When we walked in with Beau (he was in the buggy), children were sitting. First I told them a little bit about myself and the puppy which gave Beau time to process the situation he is in. After that children were asked to stay on their place and Beau could walk around the classroom off leash. He was the one who could choose to start interaction, and he did. After he explored the room and greeted few of the kids I allowed for bit more intense contact. They could call him if the wanted, give him treats, ask him to sit. There were moments when it got bit intense in terms of movements and noise but I allowed it since Beau did not show any signs of discomfort. However, even though he seemed ok after a minute of more intense interactions I asked children to sit down again and give him a break.
I think the visit could not have gone better, and I am very critical when it comes to dogs interacting with children and other dogs. But with Beau I could not see any issues whatsoever. Also after, he seemed very relaxed. He is a very special dog. And all the children were very sweet and very polite making my job a lot easier. One boy stole my heart telling others to “let the puppy explore the room first” 🙂