How in the world do you explain to a three year old that all dogs aren't the same?
This last week I spent a lot of time at a home with dogs I simply don't trust. One was a chained up pit bull and two others were outside miniature dobermans. I have nothing against these dogs, but they aren't dogs that are integrated tightly into their peoples lives. Because of this I told my three year old that these dogs were NOT like her dog and not to play with them at all.
I would not allow my 3 year old child to play with any dog I did not know to be bomb proof with children - which would mean most dogs I don't personally own. A 3 year old does not have the capacity to gauge a dog's body language and should not be left with a dog alone, ever. And really, most 3 year old children don't know how to behave properly with a dog and the dog is at risk too.
I don't consider dogs left on chains outdoors to be pets. They could be rehabbed to be family pets, sure - but that lack of socialization is a deal breaker for me.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Actually you need to teach your 3 year old to not approach ANY dog, without parent´s allowance and without dog owner´s approval.
I imagine it would be similar to teaching them not to talk to strangers?
J.R. and June
My three year old doesn't approach strangers or dogs without asking. She is also properly supervised. I just try to explain things to her so she understands. She accepts that all people aren't the same, but with dogs she thinks that all dogs are socialized. It isn't a problem normally because normally she is around rock solid dogs. In this case she was around dogs that weren't rock solid and I wanted to not only be clear that these dogs where off limits but why. It drives me nuts when I can't put things in three year old talk. It drives my three year old nuts too. It is a good thing that when I say sorry for being unable to explain something to her she goes "It is ok daddy". I wish I could explain how a dog "should" be raised and treated to the owners, but it is like trying to tell another parent how to raise their kids. It doesn't work.
Just tell her that, just like people, not all dogs are the same so she cannot approach strange dogs. There are happy dogs, sad dogs, good dogs, and bad dogs, and you cannot tell which is which by looking at them.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy
I'm a different generation parent than you SCM, but I did not try to explain stuff like that when my kids were 3. Because I said so was reason enough.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Does she understand what "being in a bad mood" means? I tell mine (age 2 1/2) that some dogs are in a bad mood more than others.