The Dangers of Dogs and Children

There is almost nothing better than the relationship between a dog and a child.

However, MOST Adults Don’t Realize How Dangerous Dogs Can Be in
Certain Situations!

I think we have a romanticized ideal about how dogs and children should get along.

And, I think we expect all dogs to act like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie.

Even though I agree that 50 years ago, dogs seemed a whole lot more tolerant with children, the truth is, that times have changed.

So few puppies and dogs are taught manners and impulse control.

And, unlike the dogs of yesteryear, the dogs in our society now are spoiled and rarely socialized  to the degree that they need to be successful in life.

Life is busier, and human beings have learned to anthropomorphize dogs without giving them any kind of behavioral expectations.

And, many people don’t realize that their dog is actually anxious and fearful, not relaxed, around children.

Many Dogs are Dangerous

In essence, many dogs are dangerous.

A large majority of dogs lack social skills, tolerance, and impulse control.

And, without these basic things, a dog can be like a ticking time bomb.

Something Else to Consider

Children don’t look like small humans to our canine friends.

Children run, scream, move fast, dance, dart, wail, disrespect and grab animals, kick and trip over animals and very rarely show the social norms and behaviors of an adult human.

dangers of dogs and childrenAnd, all of the aforementioned traits make them appear more like equals or even prey.

It isn’t the dog’s fault!

How is the dog to know that the thing running and screaming, pitching a fit and thumping his head is actually a human (like his owner)?

I mean, it is common knowledge for a human to recognize a human baby, but why do we expect a whole new species to be capable of doing so?

Yet it is Terrifying

Dogs often kill or wound what they consider prey.

In my opinion, this is why so many dogs kill children.

They aren’t killing “humans” in their minds; they are following through on their instincts and killing something weak that appears like easy prey or something that has gotten in their space and shown excessively bad behaviors without heeding warnings.

I know the idea is horrifying, and many of you are appalled that I could say such things.

But if we don’t face the problem, we will continue to watch our babies and our toddlers (especially) mauled and killed by dogs that people once “trusted”.

I have often heard “I never expected it, he has never bit anyone”, but it is probably because he didn’t have the perfect opportunity.

A dog is much less likely to bite me and much more likely to bite a toddler.

I can defend myself.

I am big in stature and my attitude is no nonsense.

I also don’t run around screaming gutturally or flailing my arms and I am not about to grab a dog’s tail or chase him or hug him (all of which are pretty common for children to do to dogs they know, and, even dogs they don’t know).

Think About It

When your child misbehaves, you might swat him.

When a dog corrects a child for bad or painful behavior, all he has available to use is his teeth!

dangers of dogs and childrenRecently I was preparing for an article when I Googled “dog bites child” and I was appalled at the videos I pulled up.

Granted, I could see that the dog was uncomfortable in ALL of the videos, and that a bite was on the horizon, but it is still sad and horrifying.

And yet, as horrifying as it is, I think there is honestly no better way to learn about dog behavior and what a dog looks like before it bites. And it is often very clear how stressed and fearful the dog is prior to biting.

No one wants to see dogs bite, but watching it helps to hone your skills for when you are in the company of dogs.

The #1 thing that taught me what a dog looks like right before it bites was getting into a bite suit and being bitten time and time again. It is an amazing experience that can teach you more in 5 minutes than you could learn in months of research.

If I Was a Parent

If I was a parent I would trust NO DOG.

I would teach my children a healthy respect and perhaps a slight fear of dogs so that they would have good social skills.

I wouldn’t even totally trust my own dogs, ever.

Although I have dozens of pictures of my dog snuggling with my niece, I still never trust them alone.

I need to be able to see my dog’s face and body language and I need to make sure that my niece doesn’t inadvertently lay on top of her, step on her, trip over her or hurt her.

I had the same dog giving demos for kindergarteners.

I trust her 90%, but I still ensured that she was petted one at a time, and that I was in charge of the interaction (standing right there), and that her focus was on me.

She knew if she did a good job, she would get treats.

Sure, I could have probably let her wander the room and be petted… but it wasn’t worth that someone’s kid might hurt her or she might become fearful and intolerant.

Dogs are dogs.

Dogs have teeth.

Dogs aren’t always amenable to being touched when they don’t feel good, are scared, painful, or stressed.

If you love your dog and your children, you will take heed and keep them both safe, at all cost!

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  1. Sara says:

    I am going to make sure to pass this on…I have a Shi-tzu/bichon who is my protector. I’ve usually thought of her as being a crabby old lady ( dog) she’s 10 1/2 yrs old, but I have had high strung kids come up to her and she ends up nipping them! I usually get mad at her! I’m glad I’m learning different stuff now, but wish I knew about dogs, animals, etc…I’m studying to be a groomer, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I tell my 5yo nephew to approach her slowly, hold out your hand so she can smell you, and if she’s ok with that then it’s fine. Great article!!


  2. Valerie says:

    Yes!! I used to feel a little guilty not completely trusting my old, loyal, gentle dog unsupervised with my kids when they were first born. Now I see my instincts were right and not betraying the trust I had in her.

    My kids are older now and we have 2 beagles who have grown up together with my kids (one was born here and has been the favorite of one my kids in particular since literally day one). I do trust them alone but I think it’s because I’ve seen how they interact together long enough to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they will behave appropriately. Having the dogs grow up with the kids makes all the difference, I think. As much as I love and trust my dogs, there’s still a different level of caution that comes around other kids.


  3. Patricia Knight says:

    This is such a good article I shall show my friends. We have two collies. We adopted one at age of two from a family and she had been brought up with four young children and is still ott with people, just wanting love. The other 4 year merle we had from a puppy and he had always been fine with all young children. Then one day we were both startled by three young toddlers who suddenly screamed and shouted behind us and he went into attack mode.he is fine with our grandchildren but is wary of other youngsters but ignores them if playing in the park with his ball although we always watch him. I feel sad for him as he’s really loving but so nervous now and we don’t let him in a room with another child which is awful to us. A behaviourist hasn’t really helped either.


  4. I like this article, it’s very informative. I often tell my now 10 year old daughter not to be so hyperactive around our 2 Yorkie dogs. The boy dog doesn’t like to be picked up, he’s 10 years old now he doesn’t mind being petted, but she likes to pick him up and I tell her not to do that. My girl dog is 5 years old and she likes to be picked up and petted. I still tell her not to be so rough in handling the dogs, they aren’t stuffed animals.


  5. Lydia says:

    I never left my beloved Doberman Pinscher alone with either of my babies. Somehow it occurred to me early that neither of those species could talk and share thoughts to me. I either took my dog or my child if I couldn’t take both – whichever was the safest option. I took great pains to teach my dog before I had children, about babies; from pregnant friends (the reaction she had toward my friend who loved cats was priceless! And we still remember this as a good experience!) to introducing my dog to the baby after his birth, then she was allowed to have a litter once and then she knew about her own babies. As each child grew and learned to handle, respect and understand, I would allow a little more distance as appropriate. In the end, I was responsible for both the dog and the child!

    Bottom line is I gave my dog words that had consistent meaning. The same as with children. The reward was always love to either species, not food!


  6. Frances Lowe says:

    I have a 1 year old border collie male. He is a very loving dog but he does not like people. What do I do?


  7. luis cordero says:

    Wonderful article. I too am fearful with children, because they do not have the adult instincts and are gullible with everything. however, i have mastiffs. I have 13 grandchildren. at least 8 have been expose to the big doggies or as i would say the gentle giants.

    I have let the children rest on their bodies. Ride them, sit next to them while the children eat a snack or while the giants have a treat. both have respected their boundaries.

    i have had my grandchildren give them treats. put their bowls on the floor for feeding them. take the bowl once they start to eat from them. My mastiffs have known not to cross the boundaries.

    My dogs are very protective of my grandchildren. My grandchildren have also learn the boundaries or know the rules. Always respect Liberty, Justice and Luca.

    That does not mean i would leave my grandchildren with my mastiffs. Because I am the only ALPHA in the house. And my dogs know that. And we all know that there is only one alpha. Anything after that means standing for your grounds. And all dogs know how to stand for their grounds. So don’t violate their space or you will be corrected by them. With that said, PLEASE BE CAUTIOUS OF YOUR FURRY FAMILY MEMBER AT ALL TIMES. THEY ARE NOT TO BLAME, WE SHOULD!


  8. Maria says:

    I totally agree with the article. A dog is a dog and he doesn’t have the ability to say to us, “hey, tell this kid he’s annoying me”. They are not human and they can be unpredictable no matter how good he has always behaved. It takes just that one time for him to hurt someone. Especially when kids are loud and move suddenly. I have had parents allow their little tiny kids (barely walking) come to my dogs running and screaming in excitement to pat my dogs (a Labrador and a Bichon/Maltese I have). Grrrrr… I always tell them right away to please don’t allow their kids to approach my dogs unless the parents are there with the kids and until they’re behaving in a calm manner. I try to explain to the parents and also the kids that it’s always best to ask first before patting a dog and that dogs get frighten when kids are loud and coming running towards them. Mine are extremely tolerant and have never hurt anyone but still don’t trust them in all circumstances. It takes just that one time…


  9. Michelle says:

    I totally agree with this article. It is something that seriously needs to be taught to ANY prospective pet owner! And another thing that I would suggest is for dog owners to take the time to actually get to know their canine companions. Spend time with them, teach them, love them for what they are. A domesticated predator. Do Not Assume that your dog is friendly, mellow, chill, relaxed, whatever! Given the right set of circumstances, terrible tragedies take place. It doesn’t matter if the dog is a 10 lb. cream puff or a 150 lb. bulldozer. When tragedy strikes, you can’t take it back.


  10. Denice Liggett says:

    I agree with this article! I also think that adults and children need to learn dog body language. Watching how the dog is reacting will give clues. The dog’s owner should be making sure that their dog is comfortable with any interaction. As soon as the dog shows any sign of stress, the interaction should be halted. A friend of mine showed me this poster to help me understand better!


  11. Savana F says:

    My 11 year old chihuahua, Muffin, has always been a NASTY little lady towards anyone but me, lol. But at least now she has no teeth 😛 But I can’t blame her though. Growing up in a house with my 5 pestering younger siblings is bound to drive any dog insane… and maybe any person, haha. I know how she feels 😛


  12. Sandi says:

    I agree with the article to protect the dogs. I read the commits and the one thing that bothers me is that kids are not being taught respect. The blame is being put on the dog and their owner. My kids and grand-kids were taught before they could walk (children can learn at a very early age) that miss treating my dogs was never allowed. If I was not going to allow a child to kick, hit or scream at me,when I could do something about it, I was not going to allow them to do it to a animal that was train not to do anything about it. I also taught them that respect for a dog you don’t know is even more, such as not running up to them scream and wanting to pet them, but to walk up and ask politely if they could pet the dog. To sum it up, train your dog and teach your child to respect all living things.


  13. Michelle says:

    I’m 52 now and looking back, my parents always taught us to respect dogs & all animals!!! I think a lot of parents in this day do not teach respect of other humans, let alone other animals!! My GSD was 5 weeks when I got her & I immediately started her behavior training and continue every day!!! These articles help btw! Xena (my GSD) has a LOT of interaction with hand feeding from 5 weeks to date. Including my granddaughter (Wilder, 4 years old now, 2 & 1/2 at the time) hand feeding her as well. When Wilder is here, Xena just lays in front of her bowl waiting patiently for Wilder to hand feed her. Xena is not aggressive with her antlers/bones with humans (and little humans) because we’ve conditioned her that we aren’t a threat to take them! I spend Lots of time with this pup!!! The trust lies with the little human doing the right thing too which is always a continuous training!!! I use to have an Arabian horse…helped me be a calm but strong handler for my GSD!!!


  14. Mary says:

    We have a six year old German Pointer Mix. Since she was a puppy , she has had socialization & obedience training .She goes many places with us & my biggest concern is young children coming up to her.
    Though some of the children have been taught to approach a dog by letting her sniff their hands & establish contact in a calm manner; it’s the ones who don’t that are of the biggest concern. I try my best to have Cara sniff their hands when I can & create some calm.
    My husband & I have always been very conscious of being with Cara in any social situation. The Mantra should be ;” Never take a chance.”


  15. Marcus says:

    What a load of BS, teaching children that the majority of dogs cannot be trusted. I agree that some dogs haven’t been socialized properly but to claim that you should teach your kids to be afraid of dogs is stigmatizing and based on a lala-story. Kids should ask owners whether they can touch a dog, in most cases that’s called politeness. Kids tend to believe the world was especially made for them, all is allowed and nothing forbidden. Lack of educating from parents is what’s causing this misconception and unnecessary fear of dogs.


    Minette Reply:

    Just like you teach your children that cars can be dangerous, they should realize dogs can also be dangerous. I don’t want my child run over or bitten.

    That doesn’t mean that the child is terrified of all cars but they need to learn to be respectful and understand that not all dogs are friendly. Trust me it is better than the aggressive dog doing the educating!


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