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What do you do when your dog is aggressive towards children? Dogs and children can be majorly cute – or majorly scary.
It’s challenging to know whether or not to trust your dog around children. It’s even harder yet to train your child and your dog to get along.
Get more help training your aggressive dog with our affordable book, How to Stop Dog Aggression or through our self-study course, Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy.
I created the self-study course after I saw how many people read this post. It’s designed for parents and dog owners like you, who are worried about keeping their kids and dogs BOTH happy and safe. It’s incredibly in-depth, and it’s a great value!
In a “Ask A Dog Trainer: How To Train Your Dog,” Corky A. writes,
Recently, while visiting family, our 4-year-old Cavapoo became aggressive toward a 4-year-old niece and almost bit her. He really hasn’t been that way around kids before, after we have given him about 30 minutes or so to get used to them. He is a very sweet and lovable dog, but we cannot have this kind of behavior around little ones. What should I do?
Here are four basic steps to working with a dog that doesn’t like kids:
- Manage the situation. Avoid children if your dog is aggressive towards children. Keep your dog on a leash and use fences or muzzles to prevent bites. Only allow child-dog interactions in fully supervised situations. Remember that management often fails.
- Teach children how to interact with dogs.
- Have a trainer help you teach your dog how to interact with children.
- Don’t shy away from hard conversations with qualified help if your dog is aggressive towards children.
Check out our blog on Six Ways to Keep Kids Safe Around Dogs – it’s full of easy tips that will keep everyone safe!
The Importance of Management When Your Dog is Aggressive Towards Children
The most important thing when you don’t trust your dog around children is management. Management basically means controlling a situation to reduce risk.
This simple concept is not always simple to act on. It’s also imperative to recognize that management almost always fails at some point.
Hire a trainer if you have any concerns about a child’s safety.
Some examples of management in this situation include:
- Don’t bring the dog to visit family
- Teach the dog to wear a muzzle
- Put the dog behind a baby gate or inside of a crate when small children are around
- Keep the dog and child in separate rooms at all times
- Only allow the dog and child together when adults are paying 100% attention to what’s going on
- Rehome the dog to a home that doesn’t have children
As you can see, none of these solutions involve training. They’re just avoiding dangerous situations. Management is an important first step to all training, especially when working with aggressive animals.
Remember, your number one goal should be safety if your dog is aggressive towards children.
The safety of Corky’s niece, the safety of her dog, and the safety of the adults around the child and the dog are the top priority.
Strict management is imperative in situations like this.
Dog owners need to remember that all dogs with teeth can and will bite.
They don’t have to be aggressive, and it doesn’t mean they’re a bad dog. But all dogs can be pushed to bite, and keeping everyone safe is imperative.
For example, my own dog was raised in a home with some small children. I’m still extremely cautious with children around him.
Why? One of the worst things that could happen is to have my dog bite a child. So whenever there are kids around, I ask them to do something he likes – like throwing a frisbee – instead of petting him.
I don’t allow children to hug or hang on my dog. If the children can’t listen, we leave.
When we’re visiting cousins, I put Barley inside the crate with a puzzle toy in a separate, closed room if I can’t be watching him. This is to keep him happy and the children safe.
Keep in mind that some dog bites are justified, and just because a dog bites, doesn’t mean he’s bad. In fact, sometimes the restraint a dog shows is a great sign!
If your dog is aggressive towards children, he’s not necessarily a bad dog who can never live a safe and happy life. But he’s not trustworthy – so it’s your responsibility as an owner to avoid the situation again in the future. Management is the most important step for this.
As a trainer, I always recommend strict management of dogs around children. But we have to remember that management often fails.
People forget to close doors, you take your dog outside without a muzzle. That’s why management without training is often only half the battle.
You can also teach your child to be safe around dogs – super important!
Where Did We Go Wrong? Understanding Trigger Stacking
In this case, it’s likely that a few things were going on. I’m guessing based off of the information I was given, but here are a few potential red flags:
- The dog is an adult and doesn’t have regular exposure to children. This means that the small, fast-moving, loud child was probably very scary. 30 minutes of exposure is simply not enough time for a 4-year-old dog to become comfortable with the child. We don’t know how often this dog was exposed to children and how old those kids were.
- The entire situation was probably quite stressful. It sounds like the cavapoo was traveling and visiting family. While their dog might have looked excited, it’s quite likely that this was stressful for the dog. They were in a new place with strange people and a strange, loud, fast-moving creature. This is a lot for a dog to take in – it’s a ton of “new stuff” all at once!
- We don’t know what the child was doing when the dog reacted. My assessment of the situation changes based off of what the child was doing prior to the incident. In fact, we don’t know what was happening all around the dog. It’s one thing if the dog growled when the child pulled on her tail, stepped on her paw, or tried to pick her up. The situation is entirely another if the child walked by the dog and the dog snapped at her. It’s yet another if the dog was hiding under the table with a bone and the child crawled under the table to join her. Something happened prior to the dog becoming aggressive. What happened?
- We don’t know exactly what the dog was doing prior to nearly biting the child. I’m always interested in what the dog did leading up to the incident. Did the dog run away and hide? Did she back into a corner and then growl? What warning signs did she display? This pairs with red flag #3 – did the dog give warnings that the child (and the nearby adults) ignored or missed?
Let’s use all of these red flags to explore a concept called Trigger Stacking.
Trigger stacking is an important concept in dog training. The basic idea is this: people and dogs have a finite amount of patience and wherewithal at any given time. A series of mildly stressful events throughout the day can lead to an explosive result. This is often the case when people say that their dog “bit out of nowhere.” They probably missed some warning signs. They also probably missed a lot of tiny stressors leading up to the actual incident.
I’ll illustrate this concept with a human example first. Imagine me, a young dog trainer, on a Tuesday.
- 5:49 am: I wake with a start. My alarm didn’t go off at 5:30, and now I have only 40 minutes before I need to leave for work if I want to be on time.
- 6:01 am: I rush out the door with Barley for his morning potty break. We run into the apartment complex’s resident reactive dog in the stairway. The dog barks, snarls, and lunges at Barley. Barley reacts well, but it’s not fun for either of us.
- 6:06 am: Barley poops. I reach for my poop bags and find that I’m all out. It’s ok – there’s a dispenser nearby. But it’s still irritating.
- 6:23 am: I’ve forgotten my keys. I have to call my boyfriend, who takes a while to get out of bed in order to come let me back into the complex.
- 6:31 am: I’m now late for work. I hop on my bike and pedal like mad, hitting all the wrong red lights on my way to work.
- 7:03 am: Only 3 minutes late. That’s not so bad. But there’s a volunteer using the staff clock-in area. Again. That’s really annoying.
- 7:42 am: I head out to work with the first dog of the day at work. He’s a high energy young Rottweiler. He spends the first 3 minutes of our session barking at me, the next 5 jumping on me painfully, and the next 10 yanking me around on the leash and refusing to eat treats. Our training session feels fruitless.
- 8:03 am: I get a call from my insurance company, who tells me that my last claim was through an out-of-network provider (it wasn’t) and I now owe $249 for my last appointment. Instead of calmly working through the misunderstanding, I scream at them and start sobbing.
It’s only 8 am, and I feel like my day is ruined. I spend the remainder of the day on a knife’s edge, easily set off into anger, frustration, or tears by tiny annoyances.
Now that’s trigger stacking. We’ve all been there. Days like this didn’t have one huge catastrophe. But the tiny problems throughout my morning led to me being an emotional wreck for the remainder of the day. The same can happen to our dogs. Let’s explore a hypothetical timeline of Corky’s cavapoo and her day. Forgive me for anthropomorphism.
- 8:00 am: Moms’ alarm goes off. Instead of taking me out for my morning walk, she spends her time packing. Our morning walk is much shorter than usual, and I don’t get to sniff as much as I’d like. Bummer.
- 8:30 am: Mom loads me up into the car. I like the car, but this isn’t our normal routine at all. Weird.
- 10:06 am: We arrive at a new home. Phew, that was a really long car ride. I’m a bit nauseous.
- 10:08 am: We go straight into this new home. My stomach hurts a bit. These new people are really loud and very excited. People keep petting me on the head and picking me up. I wish they’d just pet me under the chin or leave me alone. There’s this tiny human that is very loud and very fast-moving. I watch her carefully. She seems unpredictable. To try to calm myself down, I jump up all over the people and try to lick their faces. Maybe if I lick their faces and mouths, they’ll understand that I’m not a threat and leave me alone.
- 10:12 am: My owners keep bringing me back over to meet the tiny human. The tiny human moves too fast and pets me a bit too hard. Sometimes she puts her fingers in my fur and pulls a bit. I don’t like this, so I jump up to lick her face to try to appease her.
- 10:22 am: I wander away to another room and crawl under a table. It’s a bit quieter here, and I feel safe. It’s like a den. I start to lick my paws as a way to calm down.
- 10:06 am: The tiny human comes into the room and reaches under the table. I look away. She grabs onto my collar and starts making kissy sounds. I look back to her out of the corner of my eye and put my ears back. She keeps pulling. I growl a little bit. She keeps pulling. I lift my lips and growl louder. She really doesn’t seem to get it that I want to be left alone. At this point, my owners come in. They yell at me when they see me baring my teeth at the tiny human. Scared, I snap at her hand.
Again, this is a total guess as to what happened in Corky’s cavapoo and her day. But if Corky’s cavapoo has never been around kids before, it’s a good guess that being around the kid was stressful. It’s also likely that visiting family is an unusual occurrence, so that’s stressful too. It’s also likely that Corky’s cavapoo was giving some sort of warning signs before she reacted to the child. We’ll talk more about warning signs below.
Take note of how many times the cavapoo tries to diffuse the situation in this fake scenario. She licks faces. Corky hides under the table. She looks away. Corky whale eyes. She growls a little (big warning). Corky lifts her lips (huge warning). Then she gets yelled at – this makes the situation even more stressful. So she snaps.
Get more help training your aggressive dog with our affordable book, How to Stop Dog Aggression or through our self-study course, Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy. Again, I created both of these products with parents and owners like you in mind.
Teaching Your Children How To Behave Around Dogs
After setting up a solid management protocol, it’s good to examine how the children behave around dogs. This is particularly important if your concern is a specific child. In this case, teaching the child how to be appropriate around dogs is more important for safety than teaching the dog how to be around children. Why? The child will interact with many other dogs in their lifetime, while your dog might only interact with the child. Keeping the child safe means teaching the child how to interact with dogs.
If your concern is that your dog is aggressive towards all children, learn how to keep your dog away from children. You can educate the neighborhood kids, but it’s just not realistic to teach every single child how to safely interact with your dog. Management and training your dog is key in this case.
Let me say it again. The first step in this process is setting up good management.
This probably means starting out with a basic rule: no unsupervised interactions between the dog and the child. Period.
Ok, got it? Good. Let’s talk about teaching children how to behave around dogs. There are some pretty basic rules that are a good place to start:
- Teach your child to ask if they can pet the dog.
- Teach your child to pet the dog under the chin instead of over the head.
- Never, ever let your child pull on ears, tails, paws, or fur.
- Never let your child ride or hug the dog. Ever.
- Teach your child to stop petting the dog every 5 seconds. This gives you and the child opportunities to see what the dog does.
- Teach your child to let the dog leave if the dog wants to leave.
These 6 steps are really important. All children should learn them and understand that these rules apply to all dogs. Yes, that even means your family labrador who loves children. It’s even more important for dogs that are unfamiliar with children, and children that are unfamiliar with dogs.
Children who interact safely with dogs are less likely to get themselves into trouble. It’s that simple.
Teach your child to read some basic dog body language. My favorite resource for this is DoggieDrawings.net. I print out these posters for clients to hand on their refrigerators. Start out by teaching your child how to greet dogs politely.
Adults and children should also learn how to tell the difference between a calm/relaxed dog and a shut down dog. Many people see a dog that’s lying down or showing its belly and think they’re relaxed. But there’s much more to it than that! A child who understands how to tell when a dog needs space is much less likely to be bitten.
For slightly older children, start teaching them how to recognize more advanced dog body language. This poster hangs on my fridge at all times. I use it to teach friends and family how to recognize some warning signs that my dog is getting uncomfortable. A few highlights from the poster to look out for:
- Lip licking. Dogs often lick their lips when they’re nervous, unsure, or uncomfortable.
- Looking away. Dogs look away from situations to diffuse tension.
- Whale eye. This basically means looking at something from the corner of a dog’s eye, showing the white of the eye. Dogs often do this when they’re uncomfortable.
These 3 signs can be quite subtle and are easy to miss. It’s entirely possible that Corky’s cavapoo tried to diffuse a stressful situation using dog body language, but no one noticed. Learning to recognize when your dog is uncomfortable is key to keeping everyone safe. If your dog is aggressive towards children, this is even more important.
→ Get personalized, one-on-one help for your dog and child with help for aggressive dogs.
Teaching Your Dog How To Behave Around Children
Once you’ve implemented good management and you’ve helped the child understand how to interact safely with dogs, it’s time to help the dog learn how to behave around children.
It sounds like Corky’s cavapoo has previously done OK with children – but we don’t know the specifics of each interaction. Let’s start at the beginning and assume the worst. I highly recommend working with a trainer at this point.
This means doing lots of counter-conditioning and desensitization. Take the dog to an area where the dog can watch children go by. A park might work. Be sure that you don’t let children greet the dog just yet. Start doing Look At That training (see a demo video here) using the children. At this stage, our only goal is to teach the dog that children = treats. We do not want the children to approach the dog.
We can slowly move closer and closer to the children. Again, don’t let the children approach the dog just yet. Use your management skills – keep the dog behind a fence and on a leash, or on a leash with a muzzle. If children run up to say hi and this scares your dog, you’ve just undone all of your hard work! This is why working with a trainer is important.
If things are going well, you can start walking your dog past children and feeding her. You can feed your dog while children walk past her. Eventually, build up to having children approach while you feed the dog. Keep interactions short and very safe. Let children feed the dog and pet your dog under the chin. After just a few seconds, end the interaction.
Keep a very close eye on your dog’s body language. Don’t be afraid to gently direct the children through the interaction.
I won’t go further into training here in this blog post. There’s much more to be done here. But you need to work with a trainer at this point if your dog is aggressive towards children.
I can’t say it enough. Work with a qualified dog trainer at this stage. This is true even if the interaction only happened once and your dog is otherwise very sweet and friendly. It’s just too much of a liability for you, your dog, and the child if you ignore the problem.
→ Get personalized, one-on-one help for your dog and child with help for aggressive dogs.
Assessing Your Options When Your Dog is Aggressive Towards Children
Dogs that are aggressive towards children can live safely in many homes. Explore your options of management, training, rehoming, and euthanasia – in that order. Most dogs that are aggressive towards children can live safe lives through management and training. I would never recommend euthanasia based off of a few sentences – but we need to talk openly about it a bit here. I certainly do not recommend it in the case of Corky’s cavapoo based off of what I know so far!
When exploring your options, consider these factors:
- Your ability to safely manage your dog around children. Think about your handling skills, your environment, and your distraction level when your dog is around children.
- Your dog’s daily, weekly, and monthly exposure to children. The risk from a dog that lives at a daycare is different from a dog that lives with a childless couple on a remote farm.
- The frequency of incidents. Does your dog have issues every single time she interacts with a child or was this a first-time incident?
- The severity of the incident. Did your dog just growl at the child, or did she chase the child down and bite her in the leg? How deep was the bite? Learn about bite inhibition to help determine the seriousness of the situation.
- The triggers of the incident. Did your dog have issues after being trigger stacked, or did your dog escape your yard in order to chase children?
If your dog is aggressive towards children, you have to sit down and think this through.
→ Get expert input on what to do next with help for aggressive dogs.
Examples of When Management and Training Weren’t Enough
I once fostered a dog who regularly growled at children. That was fine for me. I’m an experienced trainer. I’m young and have no kids of my own. I don’t live with a family that has kids. I’m comfortable avoiding kids (management) and using training to reduce the problem. We never had any issues in the 2 months that I fostered her.
That same dog later moved in with a man who ran a community garden. Families frequently visited to enjoy barbeques. The constant hubbub made management very difficult. He tried to keep the dog shut inside during barbeques, but people kept letting her out of the bedroom when they searched for the bathroom. The dog eventually ended up biting a child, and the foster parent returned her to the rescue. His management could have been better (why wasn’t the dog shut inside of a crate?), but this home also was just not a great fit for a dog that is aggressive towards children.
We constantly run into this issue at the shelter I work for. Many families end up making the difficult decision to rehome their dog when their dog is aggressive towards children. For some families, it’s just not worth the risk of management failing. Other families don’t have the time or money for training. Some dogs don’t just growl, but regularly bite and snap. It’s a very personal decision that should not be taken lightly – and most families recognize that.
I do not have a problem with families recognizing that training and management is not a good option for them. Rehoming isn’t ideal, as outcomes for these dogs are often not good. But I’d rather not have a child get hurt.
Euthanasia is also an option for dogs that are aggressive towards children. This is an extremely difficult topic, but it’s important to bring up. In the case of the foster dog above, rehoming was a fine way to deal with the issue. That dog is now living well with some older children in a home.
In the case of another dog at my shelter, the family chose euthanasia. Why? Their dog dragged their child off of a swing by her hair and bit her on the hip. Another dog bit a 14-month-old child all over the back and buttocks, sending the child to the ICU. Both of these dogs were put down.
While management, training, and a better home could have worked for both of these dogs, the families and the shelter decided that it just wasn’t worth the risk. These dogs were both huge liabilities – what if they bit again? The courts would not be very forgiving to a family or a shelter that knowingly went forward with adoption for dogs that are known to be so aggressive towards children.
Again, I’d never recommended euthanasia or rehoming on a blog post. Talk to a qualified trainer or veterinary behaviorist if you are worried about training and management not being enough for your dog.
→ Get expert input on what to do next.
There are several steps towards working with a dog that is aggressive toward children.
- Manage the situation. Avoid children if your dog is aggressive towards children. Keep your dog on a leash and use fences or muzzles to prevent bites. Only allow child-dog interactions in fully supervised situations. Remember that management often fails.
- Teach children how to interact with dogs.
- Have a trainer help you teach your dog how to interact with children.
- Don’t shy away from hard conversations with qualified help if your dog is aggressive towards children.
In the case of Corky’s cavapoo, I’d start out with trying to understand exactly what led up to this aggression. What was different this time? Then work to manage the situation and prevent it from recurring. In the meantime, avoid all unsupervised and unprotected contact with children. Teach the child how to interact with a dog. Take our self-study class, Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy.
Kayla founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant who’s worked with hundreds of private clients, thousands of shelter dogs, and dozens of working detection dogs. Kayla’s dog and cat behavior advice has been featured in NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and Pet MD. She’s an avid adventurer who is currently doing #vanlife on the Pan-American Highway with her two border collies and a cat. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams. You can get 1:1 advice with a Journey Dog Training team member here.
Yesterday my 8 month old was crawling around on the floor and my 7 yr old Aussie bit him on the face. We weren’t there to know exactly what happened but we are pretty sure he probably grabbed the dogs whiskers or something near his face. This dog is aggressive naturally with other dogs but has never been aggressive towards people other than a warning bark. My husband wants to give him away. We have a 3 yr old daughter and this has never happened with her. Should we rehome or take extra safety precautions?
That’s really scary, Rachel. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this problem. I ultimately can’t make this decision for you. I can tell you that prevention can help, especially using x pens or baby gates to keep crawlers/pullers/tuggers separate from dogs. I also can tell you that if the bite wasn’t bad (didn’t break skin or barely broke skin) we’re in far better shape than if the bite was really serious. I did make a scoresheet for dogs that you might find helpful. Why don’t you fill that out and email it to me? We can chat more over email. It is possible to make this situation safer, but it is really dependent on your level of risk tolerance and skill with managing a dog and two small children. There are a lot of moving parts.
yes, I would love for you to email me. I am needing some professional guidance and your the only one I have found so far. Thank you!
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Hi, I have a 2 year old dog who is not good with children. He has never bitten. But he does bark and lunge towards children who specifically approach him. We have not friends with children to train him with but we pive next to a school and play with him on leash there. And train him there. He normally ignores kids but when the pay attention and approach he lunges and barks. We want to have children but am afraid about approching the possibility with him. I do notbwant to rehome him, we have muzzle and crate trained him. He loves his muzzel and we hope to keep training him with kids when we find people willing to let us train him near the children. Any suggestions. We want to start a family and we really want to make this work. We love him and would hate to rehome him. But childrens safety is our top priority. Is ot irrisponsible to start a family in hopes that he will with the daily exposure and training get accustomed?
Hi Lindsay! I’m glad that you’re thinking about this now before you start a family. It’s definitely possible to make things work, but it can be a lot of work. I would definitely want you to work closely with a trainer before you start a family, and don’t just hope that things will get better with exposure. If you’d like some help from me getting started, I’m always here! I offer video training that would be a good foundation for the upcoming work, but ultimately you’ll need to work with a private in-home trainer for this.
Hi, I have a 10 month old Aussie/Catahoula mix and a 3 year old Golden retriever. The golden is great with kids. The aussie is sometimes but then other times not so good. She had never bitten but she had snapped for no reason, the kid was just walking by… I don’t have kids of my own but have at least 1 kid at my house regularly, so she is around kid regularly. The times that she has snapped it was when we had a group of friends over and there were several kids over playing. She does good for awhile with the kids but after awhile she is ready to be done. The dogs are crate trained and I’m wondering if it would be best to crate after a little while so she can have some down time. She does act a little nervous when there are a lot of ppl in our house but it’s not real nervous if that makes sense. What are your thoughts?
Hi, Kayla! It sounds like your Aussie is a lot like many herding breeds- much more sensitive to commotion than your average golden. When you notice that your Aussie is ready to be done, I’d suggest putting her away with a chew toy. Same goes for when people are over! My border collie generally needs a walk, crate time, or chew time when we’ve got people over, too. If you need more help, I’m here!
We have a 2 year old dog and she has recently started growling at our 6 year old yesterday she is great with everyone else including our 3 year old and my wife is prego with a third. Concerned she has just started growling at her anytime she walks by or tries to pet her.
Hi Frank. I agree, I would definitely be concerned as well. What have you tried so far to make your dog feel more comfortable around your 6-year-old? Do you think there’s a reason that the six-year-old is more concerning to your dog than the 3-year-old?
Hello! I’ve had my 3 year old dachshund mix for 2 years. She gets aggressive and has item guarding tendencies. I manage her very well on my own, but I’d like to start a family in the distant future and I’m worried she’ll bite if a young child can’t read the signs that she’s guarding something. In your experience, is item guarding manageable?
Hi Briana! I’m glad that you’re already thinking about this. It’s certainly possible to manage things well, but it gets harder with young kids around. I’d recommend starting to treat the resource guarding at its root to reduce the severity now. You can read some info on that here: https://www.k9ofmine.com/stop-dog-resource-guarding/
Can you send me that scorecard as well? We had the exact same thing happen to us.
You can find the scoresheet here: https://form.jotform.com/82555630597163
Hello! My boyfriend and I have a 7 year old lab/boxer mix who is amazing with kids, we also adopted last year a now one year old lab/Aussie mix. He’s only been around some family kids and is usually fine but once in a blue moon decides to snap at the smaller kids (3 and 7). not sure if it’s got something to do with their size or what. He starts with a growl then lunches with his front paws first. In the first few cases he’s left no mark, but he recently left a (scratch or bite – not sure) mark on our friends 3 year old. Our friends child went to pet the top of his head making our pup uncomfortable I believe causing the growling. At which point I went t grab My dog and he lunged at the child. Our pup is super loyal to me specifically, so for some reason this always happens when I’m right there and sitting.’ Down…I’m so used to having my all around easy going lab that this is all new to me. Any advice you can give us much appreciated! We want our pup to behave and feel comfortable around the kids!
Hi Katherine! I would start with the suggestions made in the article above – stop allowing the dog and child to access each other and work on desensitizing the dog to the children. It’s best to do this with help, and I’d highly recommend booking a call with myself or another Certified Dog Behavior Consultant for help!
We just rehomed a 6-month old Pitsky from the friend of a friend 3 days ago. She immediately attached to me, and is generally loving and playful when I am around, but when I leave she often retreats to her crate and growls/barks at my kids (9, 5, 2). My wife wants to give her away to someone, but I think she is just uncomfortavle with my kids being so forward during this time of stress and uses my side as her safe place. Additionally, she tends to deliberatley potty in the house when my wife attempts to take her outside. I have been having the kods feed her, give her treats as reward, and pet her under close supervision to try to warm her up, but again, she reverts as soon as I leave to work. Is this normal? I am not sure how kuch more time I should give it before digging into my wallet and seeking professuonal help.
Hi Damien! Thanks for reaching out. This isn’t exactly normal or ideal behavior, and it’s always going to be easier for a professional to help earlier in the process when things aren’t too bad yet. I’d suggest getting help now so that you can nip any problems in the bud, rather than waiting until you’re at your breaking point!
Hi. I have a 10 month old yorkie x Jack Russell who’s been brought up with my four children aged 13, 12, 9 and 18 months. She’s usually very calm around my 18 month old…..she reacts well to him cuddling her and we’ve taught him to be gentle. This evening she was sat on my knee dozing and he toddled across the room to cuddle me…..she growled and nipped his hand. No blood or even marks but it made him cry and is worrying nonetheless. Is this her trying to oust him in ‘the pack’, and if so how do I deal with it? Thank you in advance.
Hi Viki! I just announced a new course (Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy) that will be perfect for you guys. For now, I’d just toss treats AWAY from you if your dog is near you and the toddler approaches. That will get her away from you and keep your 18 month old safe. Avoid punishing her, as that might teach her that the toddler is what makes Mom punish her!
Hello, my partner and I have a 6 year old pomoranian cross Jack russell. She is a very happy and playful dog but does have an aggressive side. She is usually great and is a very cosey lap dog. She loves us cuddling her and always listens when going for walks and is also fine off the lead around people and other dogs. Though on the other side of things.. if our house mate tries to put her outside, she tries to bite her. She won’t let anyone pick her up if she thinks they are going to put her outside if she doesn’t want to go, unless its us (her owners). Other than that, she is fine with adults. She doesn’t like children. She will let other people pat her if she’s sitting on the couch but if there is a child who is patting her she will try to bite them. We are very careful, we sit next to her and make sure our hand is close to her face (just on case) and tell her she’s a good girl when our neice is here and patting her. But today, my neice and nephew at two separate times, walked up to her to try and pat her and she jumped up to bite them. We don’t know what to do from here. Is there anything you could suggest?
Hi Mary. Have you been able to implement some of the management strategies and desensitization protocols outlined in the article above?
We have a 1.5 year old cavapoo who growls a fair amount at my 4 kids. Especially the younger two (age 7 and 4). I realize from reading your article that we need to do a few things differently to teach the kids how to interact with the dog. Hugging is definitely part of this. However, my question is about what to do when the dog is on my husband’s lap and a child comes up to the dog to interact. Even if no hugging is involved, our dog will growl before the child has touched her. What can we do to stop this behavior? Also is there a way to tell the difference between a play growl and a warning growl? I would love some suggestions on how to manage the growling, thanks ????
Hi Kel – I sent you an email about our upcoming online course for dogs that are aggressive towards kids!
I’ve a 5-year old shih tzu who doesn’t like children.He is very aggressive and bites them.Today some guests visited our home and that was a surprise visit to us.Their daughter was 9-year old and my dog suddenly barked and ran ferociously towards her and bit her leg.She started crying and her leg was bleeding badly.The girl didn’t do anything to trigger my dog but he just runs and bites children like this.This happened many times before.I don’t find a way to get in under control.Please help me
Hi Swetha – I can’t really fix that in the comments section of this post. I’m currently running a 6-week online course for dogs that are aggressive to kids, or you can book a private call with me. For now, you need to start muzzle training your dog and keep her 100% separate from all children. Put a sign on your door and be prepared to put her in a crate if kids visit.
I have a 5 year old black lab mixed with bull mastiff. He has never been around children and today I went to my brothers and my brother wanted to introduce my dog and his kids (6years old and 9 years old) and all was going good and all of a sudden my dog decided to bit my niece on the hand. Everything happened so fast. I’m just trying to understand why he would have bit her
Hello. I had a situation with my dog recently and I hope you can help or even give your opinion. My 8 year old lab recently snapped (growled and snapped) at my 3 year old niece. His tooth cut her forehead (above her eye). He has been raised around children his entire life, my youngest was born after we had him. There was food in the area, a few feet away but the toddler did not have food. I always tell children to never get in my dogs face, bc I know that can scare them. But in a minute, the toddler got close. My dog has never been like this. He does bark at strangers/ doorbell but calms down quickly. Animal control was involved and they said that once a dog bites it will usually happen again. I am devastated. Do you see dogs becoming more aggressive or short tempered with age? I don’t know how I can even trust my dog around my own children now. We have discussed rehoming him with my father. I don’t know what to do.
Absolutely, some dogs can be less forgiving as they age. I’d ask your vet to check him for pain or any other reasons his behavior might be changing as well. 🙁
Thank you so much for replying. I’m going to get him into the vet as soon as his quarantine is over. I don’t want to rehome
our dog, but I’m worried about the safety of my children and we always have children visiting our home. I guess we could keep him in his kennel when guests are over. I know my dog isn’t a bad dog, but I feel I can’t trust him anymore. I just wish none of this would happened. ? Thanks again and take care.
I’d definitely use the kennel, that’s smart!
Hi recently my dog has been starting to lunge at my partners 9 year old brother when he comes into our room. She will be laying on the bed and when he goes to sit on the bed she lunges at him. We are afraid she will bite him and my partner said if it keeps up she will get rid of my dog which i do not want. She is fine with my partners 13 year old brother. Sometimes when we are all playing in the back garden and he starts screaming with excitement she get a bit cautious around him. Could you please email me on any advice you have on how to deal with the situation. Thank You
Our 2 yr old Aussie mix lives with my husband and I and our three children (3,5,8). They lay on her and love on her like there’s no tomorrow and she is SUPER tolerant. However if any other child comes into the home, she snaps at them and tonight nipped the cheek of our friends 4yr old son!!! I’m so upset by it and I don’t want it to continue happening! Why would she do this to other children, but not our own??
In the case of tonight he pet her and she laid down and rolled over. He knelt down and rubbed her belly and she nipped him, jumped up and tried to nip him again!!
I’m in a similar situation to Megan’s; I’m staying with my sister and her family for the next month with my five year old poodle mix, who has always been extremely loving and is really great with her seven and four year old children. My sister says she has witnessed him bite two different children in the last week, one who came over to play in their backyard and another who rang their doorbell and my dog ran out to bite him when we had barely opened the door. No idea what’s brought it on or what to do.
Since this is temporary, I would implement strict management to keep your dog away from the kids. He’s probably vet stressed and behaving abnormally because of that.
I rescued a american staffordshire terrier (75% terrier, 12.5% boxer, and 12.1% a mix of other breeds) at 11 weeks. When i first got her, she did growl when i got close to her face, she growled at out two other shepherds because she was so frightened, but after a week she warmed up and became so loving and playful.
I take her to the park all the time, she meets new people, and is usually very excited to see people and likes to watch children run around or ride their bike.
She is five months old and I have not seen any aggressive behavior from her.
Today, when we were walking, people came up to her to pet her and usually she is excited (her tall was wagging), but when they went to pet her she didn’t seem to want it, she kinda walked away and was interested in other things. I should have read her behavior better, so it’s my fault.
After a lady and her grandson approached her, the kid was already crying, but stopped. I didn’t want her to jump up so I was holding her kind of in my lap, but the kid wanted to hold the leash. Everything was fine, but he kept playing with the leash and she eventually growled at the kid and moved away. I do not like this behavior at all, i’ve grown up with shepherds my whole life, but never a rescue. I just don’t like how she almost retreated to her old behavior for a moment. Obviously, she was uncomfortable and was letting me know. I need to do some desensitizing training and make experience with kids positive from now on out. What do you think this behavior means?
It really sounds like your dog isn’t a dog who would enjoy spending time with strangers in the park. I’d teach her that kids = treats at a distance and certainly avoid letting them approach to pet.
I have a Caucasian Shepard and he is 7 months old. He has been showing signs of aggression towards my children. I have been trying to work with him but recently his aggression has been getting worse. Now I cannot have my children alone with him because now he growls when they even try to pet him. I am so heart broken and not sure what happened that made him so angry towards them. I know he is a very aggressive breed and needs a job. I socialize him and work with him everyday but I have decided for the sake of their safety I am rehoming him. I am not sure if training is even an option since I have been trying since we got him at 8 weeks. Is there any last hope for him before I rehome him?
Nice blog! This blog is awesome for dog owners. If you want your
dog to be obedient towards you. You should get the DVD course on this site:
https://bit.ly/GetYourDogTraining ,see for yourself. Its great
when your dog listen’s to you.
My dog Giza is 1 1/2. Weve had him since he was a 2mo. Puppy. We have two sons and both have been properly taught on how to respect dogs. Just recently his aggression has sky rocketed through the roof toward any ppl familiar or unfamiliar coming into the home, and even just little bbs running in front of the house on the sidewalk…. A week ago my boys and I came home to Giza lying on his bed he waghed his tail at me and then locked up when the kids came inside. He rushed my eldest, buy he slammed the door in his face and escaped outside, so my dog went after my youngest and knocked him down. By the time I got to them he had made a cut on his right pec but almost no other damage. He wouldn’t stop trying to attack him so I had to throw my full body weight on him. He bit my fac, broke my finger in one bite and tore my wrist up before I could properly restrain him… He’s still growls at them and barely let’s them in the house, same with my husband and we don’t know of we should get him clipped and try to keep him or to give him to a non kill shelter for pitbulls…. Before all the agression started, we got two kittens, one of which is a male, but he never shows agression towards them or me (other than when I kept him from attacking my son or when I try to repremand his aggression towards the boys) just my husband and kids…..
Gosh, that sounds really scary, Elizabeth. I think our “Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy” course will be super helpful for you – you can purchase it for 50% off right now if you hover over the “courses” tab on the menu above.
My dog Beau is a hound mix roughly 3-4 years old. I rescued him off the side of the road after I saw someone throw him out of their truck and we have had him around 2 years. He is a very sweet and loving dog but has recently started showing lots of aggressive behavior towards my 18 month old son and my 4 year old basset hound Roscoe. Anytime he comes inside from going out his fur bristles and he growls at them both when he walks by them. He recently started growling if the toddler comes near him or tries to touch him and he will run and hide in places like under the bed or behind the couch because he is scared I am guessing. He also attacks Roscoe for what seems like no reason at all. And now at night he started knocking over the trashcan and eating trash. I scolded him and he lunged at me snapping and barking loudly. He does that anytime we come near him while he is in his crate as well. I am not sure what to do or how to fix the problem. I just want to protect my family and my other dog. Please help me!
The article outlines my main suggestions – if you’d like more personalized help we’re taking online clients or you can take our online course for dogs and kids here: https://journeydogtraining.thinkific.com/courses/keeping-kids-safe-and-dogs-happy
I have an 18 month old Border collie/Aussie mix. She has kind of always barked at kids and some unfamiliar adults, but she is learning a “back off” command. We have been working on desensitizing and kids=treats training since she was a puppy, but she seems unsure around kids. She has nipped my 3 year old cousin twice (one was definitely his fault, but still it’s not okay.) and freaks out when I pick up the 1 year old. Both the boys are raised in a house with several dogs, but the dogs are extremely tolerant and the boys are not good at following directions yet. We keep her on a leash and keep a close eye on both her and the boys the whole time. She interacts with them about every 2 weeks at both our house and theirs, and she is usually okay until they start running or being loud (obviously that is scary and I don’t blame her.) She runs right up and barks and does circles around him. We stop her before she goes any further, but I am wondering if it is her herding drive, or if she sees them as a threat. Also how do I correct that behavior?
My guess is this is related to normal herding dog behavior, yes. We have an article on dogs that herd people here: https://journeydogtraining.com/stop-dog-from-herding-me/
Thanks. This post was very helpful. I have a 4 year old dog who’s on prednisone right now. He normally shows a lot of restraint, but my kids haven’t learned to treat him nicely. I guess I need to start being more strict with them and make sure I understand what they’re doing wrong because this morning, he bit my six year old on the face and she needed 4 stiches. I’m not sure what to do. He’s in a crate right now and we can easily only supervise him with the kids, but I’m quite stressed out about it. We’re having the kids take turns feeding him by hand and training him to try to help with the aggression. I didn’t know hugging was such a problem . . . that’s what my younger 2 kids love doing to the dog the most.
Oh, I’m so sorry. What a stressful situation. I’d definitely err on the side of caution now and keep them separate until you can get help from a skilled behaviorist.
We have had a rescue mini pincher chihuahua mix for over a year now whom is relatively good mannered but nips at our kids anytime they get too hyper for him. We don’t really want to get rid of him but it’s been an issue that we can’t seem to break. He will allow kids all over him but can’t handle it once they start running around the house at all. He’s very protective over our 2 year old son as well and has bit our 13 year old when she’s went to pick our son up( again they were being hyper prior). Any suggestions cause I don’t want him to really bite one of our kids.
Hi Tony, I’d get the help of a trainer and/or sign up for our course right away. You’ll need to implement some management and training but this should be a fixable problem!
Hi Kayla. We have a 4.5 year old rescue (50% border collie, 12% German Shepherd, rest unknown) that we’ve had since he was 3 months old. We also have a developing toddler (13 months) who has recently become more mobile and unpredictable. Our dog has historically not been a fan of being in a confined space with children (his herding instincts kick in and he barks, nose pokes and races around them… we have avoided these situations because we don’t know how he would react if the kids react poorly to him). He also really dislikes puppies in confined spaces (tries to intimidate them). We took extra precautions since we learned of the pregnancy to try to prepare him with trainers/behaviorists, anxiety medication (fluoxetine, gabapentin) and the house (baby gates, designated play areas, etc) for a baby at home. It took work early on to desensitize him to the baby’s presence and we thought he adjusted well, even when the baby has been walking. He’s not what I would call best friends with the baby but he has tolerated him (can rest while the baby plays nearby, if approached he just walks away, will pull away if touched by the baby). We are constantly monitoring the situation when they are in the same room to ensure the baby does not try to interact with the dog. But this past weekend we had a scary incident where the baby approached the dog and he did not do his typical walk away and the baby put both hands on him (we have not wanted him to get used to touching the dog so we have not desensitized the dog to it). The dog growled so we picked up the baby and separated them. A few minutes later the dog approached him and gave the baby some sniffs (a common interaction of the two) but the baby put up both hands and gave the dogs head a strong push away. This resulted in another growl and we needed to separate the two. Our dog seemed to stare down our baby like how he intimidates puppies so I went to put him outside to cool off but he wouldn’t listen to commands and when I grabbed his collar to put him outside he pulled towards the baby (who was a safe distance away but still). I took the baby away to a room until things settled down. They were back to normal later that day. But it now has my wife and I fearful of the unpredictable reaction we got from our dog. Since then we have instituted new rules at home (dog is baby gated in another room when only one of us is with the baby). We are trying to determine whether we can correct this through management/training or whether we will need to rehome him, thinking he may be more successful and comfortable in a home without kids. However given his sensitivity and anxiety we fear a rehoming may make him worse off. We have a trainer coming this weekend to give us an assessment of the situation but it is causing much concern and emotional stress for our family (both the rehoming idea and the dogs presence around the baby).
Hi Brandon – I would get help from a Family Paws Parent Educator right away! This calls for professional, 1-on-1 help. https://www.familypaws.com/
We just adopted an abused English Bulldog who was used to breed in a puppy mill, she’s 5 and I thought Bulldogs love family so this will be great. She growls and goes after my 2 small boys (5&11) my older kids (14&16) and me and my wife she’s absolutely fine.. I don’t think she was socialized and met kids b4.. what do you recommend? She’s scared of new surroundings or a vet visit to see if she’s hurting or somethings wrong with her? I’m absolutely stumped
Hi Mac, this is beyond the scope of the comments section of the blog. Please get 1:1 help from a qualified professional right away – either here or through Family Paws Parent Education. Don’t muddle through this alone, it’s too difficult and risky. For a low-cost option, go with our course. But really, 1:1 help is better.
Hi Kayla, My five year old black lab mix is showing some aggressive tendencies towards my 10 month old niece. He has been around her probably 5 times in other peoples houses with no problems. This time she came to MY house, and I am seeing him growl, sniff and snap the air at her. We are 100%around and I am willing to gate and separate, but wondering why this trigger is present in our house but not other houses? How to I make him comfortable with a baby in our own home when he is comfortable in other homes?
It’s possible that he finds the intrusion into his space more stressful, or perhaps he doesn’t like her being around his toys/food/etc, but honestly, it’s often very hard to discern WHY with dog behavior! The approach will still rely on management and councerconditioning. It’s definitely a good sign that he’s better in some situations, but let’s not push our luck anywhere either! Happy to help in more detail if you’d like over the phone.
Hello we have a 4 year old German shepherd who is not fixed he is male. We got a puppy female German shepherd wanting to have puppies eventually. She is 7 months old. The dogs get along fine and we have had her since 8 weeks . 6 weeks ago my male starting growling at my daughter . We tried to think if she did something to upset him as kids can maybe be rough. We couldn’t think of any thing that happened then he starting growling at my son . So that’s both kids now he has always been a family dog very protective of kids. We have kept him away from the kids not knowing what he might do as we feel this is a warning for us . Now he barks at both kids and charges at the patio door . It is the craziest thing the kids are upset about it because he has always been their friend . I don’t know if it has to do with the puppy I just really need some guidance . He is fine around me and my husband . I don’t want his to bite them .
Hi Kristen, it certainly sounds like this is a situation that requires a dedicated trainer. We’d be happy to help, but this is beyond the scope of the comments section! You can hire one of our trainers under “1 on 1 training” in the menu bar above. For now, continue keeping the children separate from the dog. I also would consider that a dog exhibiting aggression towards children should not be bred.
We have a 4 year old peekapoo
and also have 3 young grandchildren
Who we visit often now that they live closer. Dot Bugg (our pup) is not use to the kids or us giving them our attention. Very jealous. They also have a 10 year old Teacup Maltese .
So the grands have been around a pup their whole lives.
Our pup wants to rule the nest !
I don’t want to leave her while we visit
But I’m also on pins and needles the whole time .
Dot Bugg is very sweet but doesn’t want to share our attention with the grandkids.
Hi Frances, I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. Have you been able to try the suggestions in the article?
I have three dogs, they have always been my babies… I have a chihuahua, collie mix and a basenji. Two out of the three are great, but my basenji has not taken well to our 10 month old. I’ve tried to keep their normal routines of walks, play, positive reinforcement when around our child, but at this point we have constantly watch our basenji, she is extremely jealous and has shown aggression multiple times. She growls if baby is anywhere near, she has snapped and she’s been acting out because she gets put away when we can’t supervise 100%… at this point I wonder how good her quality of life is being separated all the time and in trouble when she growls and carries on like she does. Any suggestions?
Hi Sheena – that sounds like a very tough situation that may get dangerous as your baby ages. I would suggest continuing the safety measures you’ve already started and working with us or a Family Paws Parent Educator right away to help you and your dogs move forward together!
I would like to talk to you on a phone call regarding the same issue with my 1yr old golden retriever
Great, you can book a call in the menu under “1 on 1 training.”
Hello there 🙂 I am hoping to receive a bit of info. I have an american pitbull terrier that was rescued (as an almost yr old pup) from a known gang house. Milo is EXTREMELY loving to myself, my grandmother whom I live with, and my mother when she visits. That said he is a VERY fearful boy as well… When he was neutered and I had to check the site, he was scared of being hurt and flashed me a toothed warning (no growl), and immediately tucked his head. This was, as ive learned, not aggression but a warning to say im scared please stop what youre doing. Now with having worked with him, gently and with treats, if he gets scared im able to say its ok, nice… And he relaxes and lets me do whatever is needed. Check a potential owie, clean his ears, check his teeth etc. That has been the extent of any “issues” till this eve. (1 1/2 years). This eve my gran went to check the mail, as a man and 3 kids were walking by. The 2, were toddlers in diapers, and the 3rd a baby in the mans arms. Milo saw one of the toddlers running, and took off between my grans legs. He initially ran around for a bit before “locking” on to the man and his kids…. He stood about 3ft away from them barking with his hackles up from tail tip to head… (Ive never seen that behavior) he never bit anyone, but that was HORRIFIC for me to see, and im sure scared those poor babies sooo bad. I am quite traumatized from this. There WERE some stacking triggers…. But can you help with some more possible insight as to WHY that happened?? Was it because he came from the house, he figured he was protecting? Also aside from obviously watching more closely when opening the door, is there any training I can implement??? I would appreciate ANY comment or help…. To be 100% honest, I was more upset than the man was to see my dog behave in such a way. I apologized in tears, and thats how it was left.
Aw, Jenn. I’m so sorry. It’s really hard to see our dogs like that! My puppy (8 months) is also really scared of kids and behaves similarly when I’m not careful. It sounds like his behavior fits what I would expect from a do who’s quite fearful of the world when they meet lots of kids at once. In the future I’d just get out of there when you see so much going on. It’s really hard to say WHY it happened exactly, especially based on just a bit of information here.
Hi we have a beautiful working cocker called Boo she is 2.5 years old. But has a problem with small children ( the unpredictable ones) when we are out walking she is fine happily walked passed children with no problem. When we are in a pub or that environment and Boo is on lead with me when a small child runs or walks past loudly she will do a low warning growl then go in to a full bark if that child doesn’t go away ( which then scares the child) her body is tense and ridged. And will take me some time to calm her. And then I make apologies to the child’s mother. I feel she thinks she needs to protect me is there any way we can change her behaviour. She isn’t use to children we know the warning signs and have now bought a lead that states Boo is wary of children in the hope the parents keep the children away !! She has never bitten and are very careful when we are out any help would be brilliant thanks sally.
Hi Sally, I’d be happy to help you put together a more detailed training plan if you’d like to work with me. It certainly sounds like you could use some guidance, but unfortunately I can’t give detailed advice on a public blog comment.
Hey me and my two children 4 and 5 moved in with my aunt a year ago and they have two dogs not sure the dogs age but they are rat terriers one of the dogs is really nice just kinda skiddish towards anyone except my aunt. The other however is really aggressive towards me my aunt’s husband (who is this particular dogs actual owner) and both my kids specifically my four year old like he wants the attack him if he even catches a sight of him they keep the dogs in their room and have ever since we moved here because the dog almost bit my four year old. Wich I think is super unfair to the dog and possible one of the reasons why the dog doesn’t like us, but my four year old has never tried to approach the dog he doesn’t talk to the dog or nothing he’s terrifies of him at this point. We have lived here a year and I just don’t know what to do, my aunt has it in her mind the dog ain’t going to hurt my son and yata yata but me as a parent can tell by this dogs attitude when he sees my son he wants to tear him to pieces the only time they cross paths is if we are in the kitchen eating when they on a leash take the dogs out and the dog tries so hard to get loose off the leash to get to my son when he walks by it’s frustrating and terrifying because what happens when he gets out of the room one day and him and my son cross paths or he is able to get loose from my uncle takeing them outside on the leash I personally don’t like the dog now because of all this because I fear for my son but I don’t want the dog dead nor do I want him to have to stay trapped in a room 24/7 because it’s unfair this is his home to but idk what to do my aunt won’t put any extra thought into this concern because like I said she’s in her mind convinced her dog “wouldn’t hurt my son ” please help me
Hi Ashly, if the basic advice outlined in the article isn’t sufficient, the next step is to book a call with our team using the link in the menu bar.
I have a 4-year-old Australian shepherd mix who was rescued when she was less than a year. Since we adopted her, she has been very skittish towards men, children, and anyone wearing boots. We did do some training with the dog and they said that she was a “resource guarder” and is very protective of my husband and me. She acts differently when we aren’t around according to her previous trainer. When we have guests over we always put her in another room because of her behavior. Now, fast-forward a few years, we have a child who is just over a year and is on the move. At 7 months, our child got close to our dog’s toys and she scratched our child in the face (breaking the skin and now has a scar). Our kiddo is quickly learning how to open baby gates, which up until now has done the trick to keeping them separate. She has attempted to nip at my father-in-law, my sibling, and a family friend (never breaking the skin on any of them). If we have the kid in our arms we do allow her to come and sniff the child and she will occasionally lick a hand and walk away. Every day we go for a walk with the dog on her leash while the kid is in the stroller. We are trying to teach our child to respect animals and be gentle with other family pets who tolerate children. I don’t want to get rid of my fur child because I feel it’s our obligation since we adopted her however the safety of my child is clearly a top priority. I’m just at a loss at this point.
Hi Jammie, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds like a tough situation. We’d be happy to help however you can. Would you prefer to meet with one of our trainers 1:1 (over video chat or phone), or purchase our Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy course (much cheaper, but no 1:1 time)?
We have a 13 year old Bull terrier/Dalmatian mix that has started showing escalated aggression towards our 11 month old baby. We had an incident last week where baby got a little too close for dogs comfort while dog was eating, so dog scarfed food quickly and growled and I got him away quickly. Ever since then, dog avoids baby, where before he was very good with baby and tolerante. Dog started growling at baby yesterday when he gets too close, and then today, he now growls and advances towards baby (baby is just sitting on floor, not coming towards dog) and this makes me very nervous. It seems like the dog is getting more and more brave and I’m afraid if I weren’t right there, he would snap at the baby. I now keep them separated, but this whole thing is devastating. The dog seems to now view the baby as competition and is treating him like another dog. I’m afraid there isn’t much we can do except keep them separated because of his age.
Hi Kassie, this certainly sounds like an escalating situation and I’d recommend getting help right away! We can help remotely or can help you find a trainer nearby.
Hi, my parents have an 8 year old bolognese dog, and i have a 6 months old child, we put the child at our parents house everyday while my wife and myself are at work, and we usually go everyday to visit them, until our son was 5 months old, everything was going somehow fine, but now that child is starting to move and have a louder voice, so we noticed that my parents dog, is getting super excited (scary excited), and today while my wife was holding the baby the dog came and sniffed him various times, then jumped on the sofa and tried to get the sock out of the baby’s feet with her teeth, we all got scared and then we told the dog (naughty, and a bad girl) the dog went behind the sofa and was sad, I wouldn’t be scared if the dog never had a history of biting she is not a saint, she bitted almost everyone (except my wife) at some point, I know my parents failed at training, but that the situation at hand for the time being, we need to put the child at my parents home everyday so we can go to work, cant call a trainer since i live in Jordan, (not much of good trainer), please help and advice on this situation , we much appreciate any help.
Hi Issa, I’m sorry you’re struggling. We offer remote 1:1 training and I’d be happy to meet with you over video chat. I’m sure we can find a time that works. Otherwise, my course on keeping kids safe and dogs happy is available self-study. https://journeydogtraining.thinkific.com/courses/keeping-kids-safe-and-dogs-happy
My dog has suddenly become aggressive with my 6 year old son. My dog is close to two years old. The dog has never shown aggression with my son or other children until this week. The first two times he growled at my son, no food involved no excessive touching or even petting just happened to be in close proximity. Today my son was sitting on the floor in front of the dog talking to him not touching him, my dog nearly bit him in the face. I separated them immediately and was within 5 feet of them when he happened. I’m at a loss on what to do.
Hi Whitney – that’s a very scary situation. We’d be happy to help however we can. If you’ve tried the suggestions outlined in the article and aren’t seeing success, the next step would be to book a 1:1 consult with our team using the options in the menu bar above.
We adopted our now 7 year old from foster care several months ago. When he first came to us at 12 months old, we had an elderly Shih-tzu & an elderly Golden Retriever. Both were great family dogs, but passed on at the ages of 15 1/2 & 14 1/2. We waited several years for our son to mature more before getting another dog. Just over a year ago, we adopted a puppy from a shelter that is believed to be part lab, husky, & German Shepherd. From the get go, this dog has been far more aggressive than any dog we’ve ever had. We have never had a crate a dog before this one, never had one physically attack & bite before this one & deliberately go after feet & clothing. We did one round of intense obedience training at 12 weeks old, but obedience was gained only by food motivation & at the end of a pinch collar – something else we have never had to use. Anytime my son passes by his crate, our dog barks aggressively at him. When he is out of his crate, he will be fine one minute, & suddenly tries to lunge at & attack our son the next. When we immediately intervene, he tries to bite my husband & me as well. He will walk okay on a leash for me, & even give me hugs & kisses, but the moment I step out back with him, he physically attacks me. I feels he spends most of his time out back or in his crate because I cannot trust him. His barking also impacts my son’s anxiety & sensory issues, yet, when we have discussed how he is just not the safe family dog we hoped for, & have considered rehoming him (in our case, it would mean his return to the shelter per adoption contract), this then impacts our son who has already had tremendous grief & loss. We cannot afford more training, &, we cannot, feasibly keep him on a short lead & pinch collar 24/7. Even if we could, I don’t foresee the temperament changing to the point of trust. We are so torn on what to do, but there have been far too many attacks or near attacks. I fear the next could be the one we have feared the most. I will add that he is never uncrated around our son without direct supervision.