A dog may be a boy’s best friend, but OUR dog may not be Owen’s best friend for very much longer if he keeps treating him the way he has for the last few days.
Talk about playing rough. He’s practically mauling the poor dog.
We’ve been working really hard on gentle hands with Owen ever since his teacher told me he “loves his friends a little too hard” at school. (Read: he tends to hug other kids to the ground). Owen is one of the toughest little cookies I’ve ever seen. He is like a rubber ball and bounces right back when he falls down or hurts himself. This comes in very handy since he is also incredibly rambunctious and fearless and is constantly cracking his head on coffee tables (he currently has a black eye from doing this over the weekend) and walking into walls and tumbling off of things he’s climbed on. It’s less helpful when he’s being handsy with his friends on the playground and doesn’t realize he’s hurting them.
It’s not that he’s a mean kid or a bully. No, I’ve only very rarely seen Owen push or be forceful in a mean or aggressive way. He just loves so darn much that it knocks people over. Mr. Social wants to be all up in his friends’ business. All the time. He likes to sit on laps and hug and lean and cuddle and climb all over people. Over the last few days this rough play has come to a climax at home with Schnitzel.
I thought by now we had mastered the art of gently patting the dog (Owen will touch him so gently and say, “Niiiiiiice”). But lately those sweet, gentle pats have turned into smacks and then Owen will grab a handful of fur and climb right up on the dog like a mountain. I’ve even seen him try to stand on his back.
He giggles so uncontrollably and contagiously that it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to scold him.
And, usually the dog doesn’t even put up a fight (though he’s starting to get up and walk away, which is great, except then Owen rides him halfway across the room and then falls off, which is pretty dangerous since Schnitzel is the size of a small horse).
Oh, and the other thing? The other thing they’ve been doing together is making out. Owen will open his mouth and stick out his tongue and THE DOG LICKS IT. I remember my parents saying we did the same thing with our dog, and we turned out ok, but eww. Yuck. Trying my best to nip that one in the bud right away (but how many times a day can you say, “No tongue, Owen! Do not let the doggie lick your tongue! Hands ONLY.”).
Soon Owen will be mounting and licking his friends at daycare now too. Oy.
Any suggestions for how to curb this behavior? Or at least encourage being gentle? Of course I want him to have fun with the dog and I know he’s just exploring what his body can do, but someone is going to get hurt (him… or the dog… or the unsuspecting daycare friend who Owen decides to ride and lick…). Yesterday I started a sort of “time out” where he is separated from the dog when he starts playing rough, but so far he thinks that is the beginning to a hilarious game of hide-and-seek/tag as soon as the (very short and unsuccessful) time out ends. Not so effective.
*SIDE NOTE: Please excuse Owen’s strange outfit in these pictures. He came home from school and peed through his pants, so we opted for pajama pants instead of another pair of jeans. Someday he’ll kill me for posting these… and the naked bath pics…