Animal Behavior Network

Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

Invest just minutes daily learning how to raise the dog of your dreams and a best friend for life!

Need Help? 

Call 1-800-372-3706
to speak to a Veterinary Behavior Technician

Paws To Speak!

Member Main Menu

Dog Preventing Aggression toward People

Help is at your fingertips by library, email and phone.

Click on Library Icon
to learn more

All Pets | Topics by Age | Topics by Category | All Dogs | Media Center |    Print

Prevention is the key!

Prevention is always better than treatment. The way to prevent a problem dog around children is to raise a dog around children who are themselves trained in how to properly relate with a dog. The child's "proper relating" to the dog consists of two parts: 

First, there are things that children should not do to dogs
. This includes most of the things that children tend to do with dogs, like hugging before they really know the dog, spanking, hitting the dog with things, stealing a dog toy, chasing, pulling on ears, tail or hair.

Second, children need to be taught to gently pet the dog, call the dog to them, ask the dog to "sit" and, THEN take a cookie (i.e., food treat). They can play tag, as long as only paws, not teeth, touch the child. They can give a body massage under supervision. They can play hide and seek or throw a ball. If a dog is raised with children from an early age with no bad experiences, he or she will very likely grow up enjoying the company of and loving children.
A good rule of thumb is for the child to be introduced to the dog by calling the dog to the child. If the dog will not come to the child, the child should not go to the dog.

If the child approaches the dog, the dog may interpret this as invading the dog's territory as a challenge, and/or threat. If the dog comes to the child, have the child act relaxed, offer a hand to be sniffed, and speak is a calm, happy tone. If possible, have the child ask the dog to "sit" and then give the dog a food treat. Demonstrate how to do this for the child. The adult needs to stand behind the child so that the dog sees the adult as the child's back-up person.

Canine Critical Socialization Period

Dogs have a critical socialization period between two and four months of age when they are hard-wired to learn about social experiences with other beings. If dogs do not have a "kid experience" during this time, they have a greater tendency to perceive children as "outside of their social group" and, therefore, not to be trusted.

There is a greater risk of dogs over six months of age, who have not be
en exposed to children, to be more fearful, distrustful, and sometimes even aggressive towards children later in life. Perhaps a toddlers frequent changes in balance (misinterpreted as threat postures) or their shrill shrieks (misinterpreted as prey sounds) are to blame.

At Home

In the home situation, the dog should learn that he or she should defer to all people, including children. This means the child can touch the dog and give him or her instructions, and the dog's job is to comply. As long as the dog can get along with children and realize that children are a giver of good treats and gentle petting, then the relationship will blossom over time.

Improving Relationships between People and Pets!

MyABN         Library         Contact ABN         Privacy Policy

Copyright 2001-Present All Rights Reserved Dr. Rolan and Susan Tripp | Animal Behavior Network & Affiliates