I come across this scenario quite often whilst assisting people on civy street with dog behavior problems. Because the canine mind works functionally quite differently than the human mind we often fall victim to Anthropomorphism (thinking that the dog thinks like a human thinks) and this causes us to become confused as to why dogs do certain things. Dogs are not primarily verbal communicators, rather their primary means of communication is body language and vocalisation is their secondary means of communication. Children are far more tactile and hands-on with their interactions with dogs so it stands to reason that dogs will understand children and enjoy the actions of children of certain ages then they will with some adults who might be a little hands-off and extremely verbal in their communication with the dog.
Originally Posted by Sean
Another similar scenario I deal with is one where the wife is the primary care giver to the dog and the husband has little to do with the dog and in many cases the husband actually dislikes the dog. While the dog is at home with the wife during the day the dog happily follows her around and is quite compliant to her commands. However this all changes the moment the husband comes home, the dogs focus shifts almost totally to the husband and becomes non-compliant with the wife. Now many women take offense to being treated like this by the dog.... however it's really nothing personal at all....... it's all about relative rank. before spelling it out in detail let's look at a human parallel......
You are sitting at your desk at work diligently working away at your normal tasks when your immediate superior walks up behind you and stands right behind you at your desk and says nothing..... at this point in time you are acutely aware of his presence and possible a bit uncomfortable. However what happens about those feelings toward your immediate superior if the CEO of the company then walks into the office and starts talking to you...... straight away the presence of your immediate superior becomes irrelevant. Dogs, just like humans, are always aware of the highest ranking dog in the room and it is that highest ranking dog that they must be most mindful of. It's not that your dogs loves you less, far from it, but rather the consequences of upsetting you are nothing compared to the consequences of upsetting the higher ranking dog
Grant 'The Paw Man'
RAAF Police Dog Handler, 33 yrs service & Civilian Canine Behavior Specialist