Teaching Your Dog to Like Children
Quick Tip – Teaching Your Dog to Like Children
This is one of those common questions that sometimes sends chills up my spine.
Everyone wants a dog that loves kids; but unfortunately, not all dogs do love nor will even safely accept children.
The child, in my opinion, is the most crucial element in this kind of training.
Children need to be calm and respectful of dogs.
Children should not be left alone with dogs, not once, not for a second.
I remember being a very small child and trying to ride our neighbor’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever, “Max” whenever my parents or his owners weren’t directly in sight.
Even as a tiny kid, I knew that neither my mother nor his owners would probably appreciate my behavior. Yet, I didn’t realize it was because I could have been mauled or killed if the dog didn’t accept my small frame on his back.
Face it, kids do things they know they shouldn’t.
Kids don’t realize the danger they often put themselves in on a regular basis.
Good parenting and being super diligent is the safest way to deal with children and dogs. If I can’t be with them both, one or the other is coming with me wherever I am going.
For instance, if I have a new dog around my young step kids and I have to use the bathroom, the puppy is coming with me or going in his crate or outside behind a locked door.
I once saw an article saying there is no way a parent could be around all of the time… but I have to tell you, I disagree. As a parent it is my job to make sure that my child is safe.
If a dog is hurt or scared it’s bite threshold is much lower.
And it is important to understand that all dogs will bite under the right circumstances or the perfect storm.
Children should be taught to respect dogs and not hug them, bother them while they are eating or play rough with them!
Typically the best way to teach your puppy to like children is to start young.
It is much more likely that you can socialize a young dog or puppy to and with GOOD children than expecting an adult dog to change its behavior with children.
Again, remember that a bad experience with children at a young age can lead a puppy to dislike all children.
So it is imperative that children and puppies be monitored and that appropriate behavior is rewarded.
No chasing, biting, or rough behavior should be tolerated.
And, rewards can be used often to reward the dog for being calm and mindful of children in the environment.
The two must be consciously taught how to appropriately interact.
Remember, they both want to play too rough with each other and this may be cute at first but can lead to behaviors that can be dangerous with a full grown adult dog.
For instance: playing chase and letting the puppy bite the running child may be cute when the puppy is 8 weeks. This exact scenario may lead to the dog’s euthanasia when the dog is 100 + pounds.
If it wouldn’t be cute for a 100 pound Rottweiler to do; don’t allow your puppy or child to engage in the behavior.
Please, please, please reward the dog for being calm or even ignoring the children and following you around the home.
If I get up, at my house, my dogs follow. My dogs are always with me and prefer my company, which makes living with children a lot easier for me.
Young Dogs or Dogs Who Grew up Successfully with Kids
I believe that the best situation when trying to find a dog who will fit in a family with young kids is finding a puppy or taking on an older dog who knowingly had and loved children.
Although it is possible to take an adult dog with unknown history with children, it is a bit dangerous.
There are dogs out there that simply don’t like children.
Children move too fast (often like prey).
They scream (often like prey).
They are too rough.
And, their general behaviors are nothing like adult humans.
And, whereas I would like to tell you that you can take an adult dog and successfully train it to love children, the truth is that you often can’t or it is not safe to try.
In these situations, it is important to teach the dog some form of tolerance and obedience socialization with children.
I Would Never
I would never suggest you adopt a dog from a local shelter and then run down to the nearest elementary school to socialize your dog and hope for the best.
Instead, I would suggest that you work on a firm foundation of obedience and teach the dog respectful behavior around children.
Sitting or lying down and even ignoring children can be appropriate behavior.
And, if you have a dog that has aggressive tendencies toward children. I would recommend our aggression course and a basket muzzle to ensure that the dog and children are safe when they are within the same vicinity of one another.
Remember, sociability doesn’t mean the dog has to play with the subject, it simply means that he has to be under control when he is near the subject or trigger.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.