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.

dog aggression towards children, dog growls at baby

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.

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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!

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Comments

  1. i have a med to small dog that has never has been around small chidren and he barks and growls and it scares me i dont want him to bite . what can i do?

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  2. Mackayla says:

    I don’t think you should try and train your dog to like having a toddler pull on its tail. That’s equivalent to teaching your kid to like being hit by his brother. “I’ll just give you a treat when he punches you. That’ll fix this little problem”. I agree that aggression towards children is something that should be addressed, but I think there are better solutions to giving treats to your dog when your child jumps on its back or yanks its tail.

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    Saturday Reply:

    How simplistic. Mackayla needs to realize that dogs think like dogs – not people. They understand that reward is good…that’s all. Yes, children should be taught to treat dogs with respect but dogs should never be aggressive towards children – ever. Reward training works.

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    Shauna Reply:

    I have to agree with Makayla. I get that kids shouldn’t be bit but instead of teaching the dog to tolerate mistreatment, how about teaching the toddler to not pull his tail. Sorry, I don’t agree. You’re allowing the kid to hurt the dog and teaching the child it’s OK to the point of encouraging it.

    And to the woman with the pitbull, this sounds like a tragic accident waiting to happen. That dog should not be around that child.

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    Minette Reply:

    I believe in both, that way I am covered on both fronts.

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  3. Nancy says:

    I have been experiencing a problem with a pit bull who is aggressive toward my 2 yr old grandson. His parents used to own the dog and never taught him that it was bad to bully the baby or other children. The previous owners allowed him to run and lunge at children while he was on his chain. He did break the chain once and all he did was jump on the child wagging his tail the whole time. I am trying to break these habits as I have taken him into my home. I have been using treats given to him by the baby. As I have taught the baby to tell him to sit and say easy before giving him the treat. I am trying to show the dog that if he is nice to the child he will get a treat. He growls at the baby and has never tried to bite him but I do not like to take the chance of him biting the child. When he shows aggression I have taught him that when I yell his name or snap my fingers and point and he goes to his cage opens it and goes in and lays down. Which is progress since he used to growl at my daughter when she would try to put him in the room.

    The dog grew up on a chain or locked in a room. Now he has a huge fenced in yard and full run of the house. At first he would growl at me but I have put a stop to that crap. I have been working on his manners since I have taken him. We have come a long way in a few months. He now sits and stays most of the time. I have broke him of jumping on people he knows when they enter the house. I have been using positive reinforcement while training him. It has been working very well. I have been having problems with him coming to me if someone is walking down the street. I find myself having to chase him to grab him by the collar and pull him into the house. Which is not good. So needless to say I cant take him out in public for a walk or anything as I cant trust him to listen because he was not properly socialized as a puppy.

    Also I have noticed that he is very overly jealous of me and the baby. This has been happening since the baby was born. As I didn’t own him then I could not stop it right away. I am now fighting a battle with him on retraining him to be a loving dog where children are concerned. He gets seriously jealous and can not be allowed to be on a chair or my bed with the baby there with me. I end up sending him out of the room as soon as he growls at the baby. He has now started not coming in the room when the baby is sleeping in there with me. This he has learned is not allowed. I never leave him alone in the room where the baby is. He has always slept with me since he was a puppy when I would visit them at their home. And now he sleeps on my bed at my home and shares the space with my cat. Which the dog is scared of by the way. And the cat is de-clawed and he is still scared of her.

    The dog is about 5 years old now. Is there any hope for his attitude towards small children to change? I would appreciate any help you could give me. Would fixing him make him less aggressive?

    He is generally a very nice dog. Very loving and protective. And very gentle. He has never bit me for any reason. He kisses me like crazy. And still plays like he is a puppy. When he was about 3 he got in a fight with a neighbor dog (his previous owners brothers pit bull) who got loose from his chain and had a gash in his rear end and he allowed me to push on it and put ointment on it with no problem of growling at me or trying to bite. He just laid down and allowed it. But I used to groom him and cut his nails. So he was used to me handling him in that manner.

    I definitely try to be consistent and patient with him where it concerns behavior and listening. Which is working after some time. I am very happy with the progress he has made in the past few months. My other daughter said that he is like a totally different dog than he was when her sister owned the dog. She was shocked at the change in his demeanor in the past few months. Just taking time to get the bad habits out of him and teaching him good behavior instead.

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    Minette Reply:

    I am nervous for the baby. Growling shows intent and even though he did not bite the other child when he broke his chain, that doesn’t mean he won’t bite your grandson.

    I can’t help but wonder if you are making him more resentful about your grandson by chastising him and making him go lay down in his crate. Now I agree that growling is not acceptable but he should associate your grandson with good things not getting in trouble.

    When you know he is liable to be possessive or not want to share your affections (like on the bed) I would suggest that you crate him first. Why wait until he growls? You know it is going to bother him, so give him a great bone to chew on in his crate and save him from that feeling of possessiveness by crating him and not allowing him to see it!

    I would also recommend leaving the baby to sleep on his own and spending some bonding time with the dog!

    Having your grandson give treats is good, but I would have him toss him so the dog does not get use to coming up to him or putting his teeth anywhere close to him. I don’t want him to at some point decide it would be quicker to steal the food from him on his own. Also YOU should be rewarding and praising the dog for a good response so that he knows you are in control of the environment.

    I would also utilize a gentle leader whenever your grandson is visiting or the dog is outside on a leash with you. Keep the leash on the dog in the home so that you can control his behavior.

    And continue to be very cautious, this could be a very dangerous, if not deadly scenario if for one moment you let your guard down. Take his growling serious and know that a growl is often followed by a bite.

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    Minette Reply:

    PS get him neutered TOMORROW!! ASAP!!! This will help lessen his possessiveness, which is a part of having hormones running through his veins!!!!!

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  4. Rio says:

    Have to say that that sounds like a great idea, to give him a great big special treat when the baby comes over so it’s like he has a little party and special time for himself! Maybe he’ll associate your grandson coming over with good times? Could you put a comfortable muzzle on him when the baby is there just to prevent a potentially horrible accident? They do make effective muzzles that are light and comfortable….. Also have to second and third the neutering. Good luck and God bless!

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  5. Leah says:

    I have a two year old chihuahua. She is great with me and my husband. She absolutely loves our kids. We have the neighbor boys that come over and she tolerates them. My problem is with the little neighbor girls from down the street. She chases them and barks at them. She has bit one of the girls and drew blood. I always try to keep the dog locked up when the girls come around but sometimes I don’t get enough of a warning. I want to break her of this but I don’t understand why she only goes after these two children. She has never shown aggression to any other kids.

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    Minette Reply:

    My guess is you will see it more as more children run through your home. However we want to avoid that.

    I would either put her on a leash and teach her manners like down stays at your feet, or put her up.

    As far as the warning goes, you may have to be a harder parent and say that these children cannot come and play if you don’t get a heads up first.

    If one of them is bitten and their parents make a big deal out of it you could be sued and your dog could get put to sleep. This is a BIG DEAL so treat it as such and don’t allow children over unless you are there to supervise or the dog is crated.

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  6. Nicky G. says:

    Thank you for the great article. Here is my situation:
    My dog Beepers, who I rescued as a 3 month old puppy (he is fixed), has been my best bud for 8 years now, he goes with me almost everywhere. My dog has been trained to protect me and our house – I was almost carjacked once and Beepers saved me from being pulled out of the car and defended me against 4 bad people! He does Not tolerate strangers coming near the house, and barks loudly at the door if he hears someone. If my husband and I are home, this Terretorial Aggresion changes to excitement and tail wagging friendly Beepers, when people we know visit or come into the house. So while I understand that you don’t WANT an Aggressive dog, I feel he is very protective, and if you were to ask ANY adult who has been around Beepers they would say he is a Sweetheart!
    The problem:
    This has happened 3 times now, and I’m afraid the next time I could be facing having to put my dog down. Our front yard is Not fenced. Beepers is a Boarder Collie/Lab mix, he loves chasing a ball and is content to run after a ball all day or lay in the shade. He is very good about understanding his lawn and is trained to Not leave his lawn. I Never leave him alone outside, ever. That being said, there are families with small children on both sides of my house and in front. The kids used to run around and Beepers would just sit and watch, until one day the kids ran Through my (Beeper’s) yard, and even though I was only feet away – he was quick to chase a small kid, barking and growling off our property, and literally stopped at the edge of the lawn, still in an aggressive stance growling. The mother ran over to her crying child, I made it clear her kids can not run through my lawn, and we are not very friendly anymore. The second time I was not around and a family friend simply let both my dog and theirs run around the front lawn unsupervised – resulting in a pack mentality where both dogs apparently chaesed a kid off the property into the street, I was so angry when I found out, because I had warned them not to leave my dog unattended like that EVER, that person does not understand, and my dog’s completely undisciplined around this person, so I limit any time around them. The 3rd and last situation happened only yesterday: Beepers was rolling in the grass not 5 feet from me, when my neighbors across the street had a child leaving with their mom. They were getting into the car, and this had been going on for several minutes when suddenly my dog jumped up and growled and lunged into the street. I was so embarrassed, the mom grabbed up her kid, and I grabbed my dog, apologizing, but it’s no use cause the damage was done, the child now screaming and crying. I dragged my dog inside, literally dragged him – he tried to lay down back where he was, like nothing had happened- so I smacked him on the nose and toom him inside, yelled at him to “lay down” pointing to a dark room, where he stayed- and if he tried to come out and see me, I would point again and yell “lay down”, I was so angry and upset and embarrassed, I made him stay like that for an hour. And even when he did come out I wouldn’t acknowledge him.
    I’m so afraid that with him doing this to neighbor kids, across the street, not anywhere near him or His yard, he will one day seriousaly injure a child. This concerns me greatly as I am also 6 months pregnant. Building a fence does not fix this problem. This entire situation sucks. He is loving with adults and attacks children. I seriousaly think its me – I ruined him with teaching him to protect me, that now he is overprotective when he shouldn’t be. Any advise would be wonderful, Thank you.

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    Minette Reply:

    I am terrified for you and your child, and your neighborhood children.

    A dog truly taught to “protect” will not act this way and is easily controllable. I have protection trained dogs and although they will bite on command, or if I am ATTACKED they are not a liability and even if they were to act on their own they would immediately come back on command. I would never have to DRAG them away from anything. And, children have nothing to do with protection training scenarios. So at first I am going to have to tell you to stop allowing yourself to use that as an excuse, it is not. To prove it, here are videos of my dog doing a car jacking and then allowing children to pet her less than 10 days later
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPDv-DtZ30I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_unwHe22k4

    I’m not trying to be combative or condescending. But I can only help you if you admit there is a problem and stop making excuses.

    From there, you need to keep your dog on a leash in the front yard, no exceptions. Not only might you have to put your dog to sleep, you may be sued for everything you own. And, all it takes is one time, and for ONE neighbor to recount one of these stories for a judge to see that you knew there was a problem and did nothing. Not to mention you would be devastated if a child was bitten, mauled, or killed.

    From there it is time to find a veterinary behaviorist around you and make an appointment. Although your child MIGHT be different to the dog, you would also be devastated if your dog killed your child.

    Find someone who is a veterinarian who specializes in behavior who can come to your home and witness the behavior and put everyone on a behavior modification program.

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  7. lovy says:

    my issue is a 4 month old puppy. She is great with everyone in the family (including our 12 year old ) but our 2 year old child. The child is like any other toddler is running around the house and the back yard. If the dog is in the same room as her she will growl and try to attack. Child is NEVER pulling her tail or being disrespectful to the dog. She can be just walking by and is getting attacked by the dog. What should we do? We wanted a family dog for the kids to teach love and responsibility but now we are starting to regret getting one. Any advise?

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    Minette Reply:

    Find a veterinary behaviorist immediately before your child is scarred for life. There is no excuse for this behavior and if you decide to keep the dog you need someone with a degree and education to witness the behavior and put everyone on a behavior modification program.

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  8. Marisol says:

    Hello, last night I had friends over and one of them brought her 9 year old daughter. I introduced her daughter to my dog and all seemed well for a few hours. Then her daughter got on the floor to show us something and my dog got up and ran towards her. I got her right away but she did scratch her :(. I was devastated as she is typically a calm, sweet and submissive dog. She is a rescue and i’ve had her for 3 months now and don’t want to give up on her. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I will be looking into obedience training in my area ASAP.

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  9. Bates says:

    I just adopted a 3yr old 130lb anatolian shepherd. I have had him for 48hrs now. He follows me, listens to me, and is super friendly to me. My 3yr old son came over tonight for the weekend. The first hour they were together they both laid on the couch. I even took pictures. There was zero threat. The dog slept, my son watched tv.
    Then.. on hour 2..my son was playing with his matchbox cars about 8ft away from the dog, not even looking at dog, a car in each hand and the dog growled, crawled across the couch and snapped at him. Why?? I saw the whole thing, my son did NOTHING wrong. After that, I scooped my kid up and seperated them..I was shocked, I brought my child over to the dog 20mins later and the dog licked his hand and allowed gentle petting (my hand was holding my childs hand for the petting.) There was zero sign of aggression, once I felt it was enough (about 15 seconds) I let my son go and he took 3 steps to the left of me no longer interested in the dog. The dog growled at him again the moment my son was 3 feet away from me and the dog…. why??

    Has anyone ever heard of this before?? Its not like my child was playing on the dog or tugging on him. My son isnt even interested in the dog. Will a muzzle on the dog while around him help get him used to the kid? And possibly treats given to him by my son randomly? Is this the dog being in a new enviroment? An attack from something as big as him could be fatal. I almost want to get rid of him but i paid alot of money and I want to know if there are other options before I just give this dog away. Need help on options.

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    Minette Reply:

    What you need is a veterinary behaviorist. We can’t see the dog, but Anatolians by genetics are a protective and can be an aggressive breed. The fact that he is 3 means his behavior is more serious. Unfortunately he could kill your son, which is why you need to seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist if you decide to keep the dog. That person needs to come to your home and see the behaviors and work with all of you.

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  10. Vick says:

    I live with my sons grandma and she has a 1 1/2 year old lab/pit/husky mix that just hates my son. Whenever my son walks by him, he will growl and start to shake. I don’t let my son close to him without me being there to block the 2 from touching. My son can be mean as he is a boy and they have no fear but I also have a dog and she’s the boy dogs sister and she gets tugged on and what not by my son more than the other dog every did and she’s as friendly as can be towards him. Wouldn’t dare growl at him. I’ve been teaching my son nice touches for pets and its sorta working. He would rather just snuggle with them and watch tv which my dog allows but the other dog doesn’t. I don’t get why he’s suddenly acting like this. And I am scared that he will bite my son.
    Advice please

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  11. Dr. B says:

    Hi! I rehomed a 2 year old shih Tzu/Yorkie mix about two weeks ago and the first week she was relatively sweet, now she is growling and barking at everyone except me and my husband. Yesterday I had her with me at my son’s football conditioning and she was ok with the boys running around but she growled and barked at babies. She allowed one little girl to pet and play with her for about 10 minutes and after the little girl walked away and attempted to come back she tried to attack her. Luckily I had her leashed because I wasn’t sure how she would act as I’ve only had her for 2 weeks. I read the article and the only thing about the positive rewards is the thing she seems to most enjoy is human affection. She’s very clingy. Will the “good girls” and belly rubs work the same as the treats? Although she’s tiny sure can be very aggressive and I don’t want any issues.

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  12. Kristen Laruance says:

    We have a 3yr mix we rescued from the pound. She has always be great with our son until just this past September. We had our second child and ever since she has been very temperament with our oldest. Some days she is fine and other days she is barring her teeth at him and snapping. It’s not just him either it’s other children as well. She isn’t even specific pm age she has shown this same behavior toward my 12yr old niece and a friend’s 8ur old daughter. The only child she seems to tolerate is the now 10 month old. She will randomly lay next to him lick him and even let him try to pet her. Tonight we have hit a cross road and we need to do what’s best for her and for our oldest son. Tonight she was laying on the floor completely awake and my son squared down and just reached out to pet her and she bit his hand. She didn’t bite him hard just enough to make it red but I don’t care. We would all be heart broken as a family to have to give her up. Even my 3yr old asked me tonight if she had to go bye bye because she bit him again and then he said he didnt want her to go even though she doesn’t like him. My question is do we have a chance at reversing this behavior or is it time to call it as it is

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    Minette Reply:

    I never risk children. If you keep the dog you need a boarded veterinary behaviorist

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  13. Leandrie says:

    Hi there
    We have a 2 year old jack russel. He has been fine with other dogs and children since we have had him from 8weeks. recently we moved to a new home and in the same time our other jackie died of old age leaving him to be the only doggie in the household. all was fine up until about 2 months ago where he started showing aggresion towards my mom in laws dogs. (he used to get along with them just fine) it has gotten so bad now that he bites them as soon as he sees them. he has also started snapping at family and friends children, although he is fine with our 3 children. (ages 2, 5, 13)
    my biggest fear is the fact that we are getting a new pup soon and i work half day. leaving the pup alone with him for very long. also that he nipped my brothers child in the face 3 days ago. is there any reason why he would al of a sudden be aggressife… is there something i can do for him to stop it.

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    Minette Reply:

    I would find a boarded veterinary behaviorist since he is trying to bite children in the face, this is very serious and can carry over to your own children; especially your 2 year old.

    And, if you insist on adding a puppy at this time (I wouldn’t recommend it until you get the aggression under control), I would most certainly never leave the two alone together. I would crate both the 2 year old and the puppy.

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  14. Cheryl Yaroch says:

    I have recently rescued a 2 year old min-pin/chihuahua mix. He is very nice, listens to me and is cute and cuddly. He has shown an aggressive side to my grandchildren. It has only been a few days since he came to live with me. He is already very attached to me. I cannot, however, tolerate his aggressiveness towards my grandchildren. They are not here that often, but when they are I don’t want to be apprehensive nor do I want the children to be afraid. Please let me know what to do in this case. Thanks.

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  15. Mich. says:

    You need to teach the dog to not bite or show aggression when the tail is being pulled, because you cant always keep and eye on children, no one can, so lets be real, you walk out of the room and the dog hasn’t been trained not to bite when the tail is being pulled and you don’t notice the child wonder into the room with the dog and he pulls the tail. so what happens, the dog bites if its tail is pulled because you’d rather teach half of the problem instead of the entire problem. Children will always start out pulling on an animal, my 7 month old will grab my moms small dog and pull. I’m still teaching my almost 3 year old not to pull or push on animals. My mom said the same thing, teach the child to not pull. Well while you are teaching them, accidents happen, which is why my son has been nipped in the face by a dog also on the hands and legs, because he pulled on her and it hurt her, i tried stopping it before it happened, but accidents happen, (the dog has been put down because of cancer, she nipped him several times while they were learning, and after a few months he got to lay on her and kiss her and give her food without getting nipped at). Teach both or don’t have them together.

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    Minette Reply:

    The truth is that I could pull my dogs’ tails all day but it is not the same as having a child do it. Some dogs just don’t tolerate this kind of behavior from a child or something they think of as small and inferior.

    It is safest to not allow them to be alone so that no accident happens.

    I would NEVER allow my child to lay on any dog, that is very disrespectful in many ways.

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  16. I just rescued a two year old poodle mixture. He is perfect with me, it’s when my three grandchildren come over to visit. They don’t do anything to him they just want to pet him and no way will he let them. Need help desperately I love this little guy and love and adore my grandchildren.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You need a boarded veterinary behaviorist to work with all of you!

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  17. We rescued a lab mix about a year ago, he was probably about 9-10 months old. He was straved and mistreated, now that hes been with us awhile my nieces and friends kids have came over. Buddy (dog) has tried to attack 2 of them, hes very aggressive. It only seems to be towards children. Even tho he’s now a little older would this still work?

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  18. Bonnie says:

    6 yr old golden, loves everyone except my 6 yr old grandson. Dog barks even when grandson just walks by. Grandson loves the dog, gives him treats, and both act good. But warning bark is getting worse and seems more aggressive. Grandson is loud and quick moving. They have been together since birth. Please help. Thanks

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  19. Emily says:

    Hi I have a 1 yr old chauwawa mix and when ever I take her to the park and a young kid try’s to pet her, she tries to snap, I’m afraid she’s gonna bite someone. What can I do to ease her aggression?

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  20. Teresa says:

    I have a boarder collie she is fantastic with my 7 year old as they grew up together but with my youngest she growls at her for no reason and is doing the same with other children any ideas why

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  21. Logan says:

    Hi, I need help. Our usually very sweet dog (1 year old mutt) has begun to growl and snap at my younger sister who is twelve (I’m 16.) this makes us very scared and my mom said we will have to give her up if she doesn’t improve. Please help. I need my dog.

    [Reply]

  22. Kaitlyn clark says:

    Our dog Myah shows no aggression when my son pulls on her tail or her ears or even sits on her. The only time she gets aggression is when he’s trying to stop her from eating his food. For instance he had some chicken nuggets he spilled and was trying to pick them up and she ran over trying to eat them and he was trying to pull her away so she growled and snapped at him. Any ideas on how to avoid this or help with this? We did receive her when she was about 3-4 months old from a friend at the time and he told us he only fed and watered her once a day in the morning. Even on hot days. He should not have got her so when he said we could have her we didn’t hesitate. He was in a bad place and could barely care for himself.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You need a boarded veterinary behaviorist and a child has no business pulling tail, ears or sitting on a dog; at some point this tolerance may change when pain is added and the dog defends itself by seriously injuring your child. You owe it to both to not allow these behaviors.

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  23. Jessica says:

    We have a 2.5 yr old husky/German Shepherd mix dog named Mila. As a puppy, she showed a very assertive personality, so we were careful to fully socialize her with other animals, children, and situations in general. After she.was spayed at about 1 year, she began displaying aggressive behavior to one of our two pugs. They all shared the same bed with us and in the middle of the night she would suddenly wake up and dive onto him, holding him down by the neck. We intervened, but it continued to happen every so often. It then advanced to happening during the day, and has escalated dramatically since then. We mishandled the situation entirely and based our training methods on punishment. We read about jealousy, puppy aggression, territorial aggression, etc. and tried to address it each time for the specific situation. She now will growl, snap at, or just dive and pin down either dog and force them to submit several times a day. She absolutely loved our 17 month old son and always wanted to be near him, even during the rough baby days of pulling and kicking (always very controlled environment, and didn’t let him hurt her in any way physically). Ever since our son learned to walk and we brought home our now 3 month old baby, she has started becoming on edge around the toddler. She started with just growling lowly if he got too close, so we started teaching him to keep his distance and calm her down, but now she will jump down to snap and snarl if he’s even within several feet of her. He doesn’t have to be heading her direction or even behaving loudly in any way, she will still do so. She still targets the first pug, even seeking him out from a different room to pin and make him submit. She has always been a picky eater, but has recently been eating less and less. They’ve all been very itchy this season (not due to parasites or allergies) and she has licked her feet to the point of having a blister on one. Our vet has given her a clean bill of health, so we know it isn’t an underlying medical problem. What makes it difficult for us is that she will be completely sweet and loving to us, to visitors, to other dogs on walks, and even to our son sometimes. She will even seek him out to play with or try to nuzzle and lick him, but we can’t trust her because she isn’t consistently that way.

    To us, it’s a stressful situation and I know she’s reacting to our stress as well. We aren’t happy, the other dogs aren’t happy, our son is becoming fearful of her, and she is definitely not happy. She has yet to draw blood from any of them, but it’s an accident waiting to happen. I know we’ve handled it wrong all along, but my question is, is it too late? Are we able to help her overcome her aggression so that all of our household can be happier? We’ve discussed rehoming for everyone’s sake, but I don’t want to give up on her if there is still hope. I just can’t take the risk of her harming one of the others or my children.

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  24. Brenda says:

    I have a 4yr old Aussie he is my husband support dog. He goes everywhere with him. The problem he has never really been around kids so when we go out children always want to pet him. He sometime growls if they come at him to fast. But if they walk up with hand out he’s ok will let them pet him.He also has lunged and snapped if they run ,jump, squeal make sudden moves. He is always on a lease when we are out in public. But how do I correct him?

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    Minette Reply:

    His growling is giving you information… he doesn’t like kids. By forcing him to sit while they pet him you are setting him up for failure and the kids up for a bite.

    It is absolutely okay to tell children not to pet him. Sociability isn’t always about pushing the dog to the point of discomfort

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