How To Fix Dog Aggression With Children
If you're concerned about your dog's aggression with children, then I want to introduce you to a technique for reducing dog aggression with children that I call, "Toddler Proofing".
Toddler Proofing is a technique for re-programming a dogs emotional reaction to your child's touch, or presence, from feelings of aggressiveness to feelings of excitement, or at the very least... tolerance.
I recently did an entire interview on this concept with professional dog trainer, Jeff Tinsley in my "Experts of Hands Off Dog Training" interview series that you have the option of listening to when you order my Hands Off Dog Training program.
In that interview Jeff talks about how he's used "Toddler Proofing" to get dogs who growl, or nip at children who pull their whiskers & tails, or who climb and jump on your dog, to stop being so upset by your child's behavior and actually look forward to it in many cases.
The secret behind why Toddler Proofing can be so effective for fixing dog aggression with Children is because it uses a process of giving what I call, "Hi Value Emotional Rewards", to your dog when your child is doing something irritating to him BEFORE the dog can experience the aggressive emotions.
Here's how Toddler Proofing works:
Step #1: Make sure you know what your dog loves more then anything in the world. In order for Toddler Proofing to work, you need to have a Hi Value emotional reward. For some dogs this could be food treats like cheese or meat. For other dogs it might be to chase a ball. You'll be using this reward as a way to interrupt the normal emotional pattern your dog experiences when you child goes to bother him. So make sure to have this reward handy.
Step #2: Start small! Don't try to get your dog to accept all sorts of behaviors from your child all at once. Instead pick a behavior that only mildly bothers your dog. For this example let's say that the behavior we want to work on is allowing your dog to tolerate his tail being pulled without growling.
WARNING!!! You should NEVER do anything that puts you or your child at risk of being harmed by your dog. These techniques are for mild cases of aggression. If your dog is dangerous, or you're afraid of being bitten you should not follow these instructions and should instead consult a professional trainer in your local area to help you with your issues directly. There's simply too many factors for considering your safety that this article cannot address. So please be careful.
Step #3: Reward your dog while "slightly" bothering him. If you wanted to train your dog to be more accepting of "Tail Pulling" start rewarding your dog with a treat while you lightly grab his tail. When first grabbing his tail don't pull it, just lightly grasp it. Make sure you reward your dog with a food treat, or other reward at the exact instant you grab his tail.
This FORCES your dog to feel an emotion of excitement for a reward instead of aggression when his tail is being touched, instead of feeling aggression. Done repeatedly this will reprogram your dog to get excited about having his tail touched as more often then not it leads to a reward. In effect, you're reprogramming his emotional mind!
Step #4: Slowly add more discomfort. When your dog willingly lets you grasp his tail ten times throughout the day without growling or showing signs of aggression, it's time to increase the discomfort. This needs to be done SLOWLY & CAREFULLY. Don't push your dog past his comfort zone. Instead, just try grabbing your dogs tail slightly harder, while continuing to reward him with food treats.
If you notice your dog is bothered by this harder grasping of his tail, then BACK OFF, and squeeze lighter.
The goal is to slowly teach your dog that having his tail grabbed is a good thing.
By continuing to reward your dog for having his tail grabbed while receiving a treat, you'll be able to continue to increase your dog's tolerance threshold. If done correctly you can increase the tolerance threshold of how much discomfort a dog can feel before acting aggressive substantially. This is why Toddler Proofing is such a wonderful technique for fixing dog aggression with children.
In many cases Toddler Proofing like techniques have been used on working dogs like seeing eye dogs. In these cases the trainers need to train the dogs to tolerate having their tails stepped on or run over by wheel chairs. These handlers need their dogs to not bite their owners who might accidentally cause them pain.
If you're interested in learning about the many different ways that Toddler Proofing can fix dog aggression with children, then consider my "Expert Interview Series" that's available as an add on purchase to my Hands Off Dog Training program.
By using Toddler Proofing strategies correctly, you can effective fix dog aggression towards children for whisker & tail pulling, touching of their feet, and all sorts of behaviors that children do to dogs that bother them.
Here's hoping this helps reduce your dog's aggression towards your child!