Leo loves kids
Leo loves all people and pets, and he especially loves kids. A lot of the times they don’t love him, which makes him love them even more. Leo’s first encounter with kids was when he was about 10 weeks old. He met my then 7-year-old nephew, 5-year-old niece and 9-week-old nephew/godson. Since Leo was a baby, we knew it was important to make sure that my older nephew and niece were gentle with Leo. As he grew, my niece especially grew afraid of him because he was so excitable. We were no longer worried about them being gentle with Leo. We had to teach them to be calm around Leo. If Leo moved in the slightest when my niece tried to pet him, she would scream and run away, causing Leo to chase after her because to him it was all a game. I think it was a game for her too because when Leo would stop running, she would stop until he began chasing her again.
Watching Leo interact with kids is amusing. On walks or at the dog park, kids that are clearly comfortable with large dogs will ask to pet him and he gleefully welcomes the attention. When timid children come up and ask to pet Leo, he gets so excited. He must sense their fear or nervousness and think it means they are excited which only excites him more. When I notice this is happening, I grab Leo’s head, start scratching his ears, and tell the kid to pet his back. If I don’t, then I know Leo is going to try and lick the kid’s face which would scare them even more.
I don’t mind if kids come up to pet Leo without asking because I know he wouldn’t hurt them, especially now as he’s calmed down a bit and knows not to jump up. However, it’s so important to teach kids to ask before petting a dog because not all dogs are friendly. Even if they are friendly, some dogs might not welcome attention as eagerly as others.