How to Deal With a Dog Growling at a Child

by Elton Dunn
With patience and vigilance on your part, dogs and children can bond.

With patience and vigilance on your part, dogs and children can bond.

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When dogs growl at children, parents panic. Success happens when you teach your child how to be with the dog, and at the same time manage your dog's behavior. Try these tactics to undo a dog's fear of kids, mitigate growling and keep all family members safe.

Step 1

Exercise your dog fully before you anticipate dog-child interactions. This drains your pooch's energy so he's too tired to cause trouble.

Step 2

Pay close attention to your pet to determine what triggers the growling. Is your dog growling when a child tries to hug and squeeze him? Not all dogs like to be squeezed. Was your dog good with children until a particular child visited? If so, something may have happened during that visit that made your dog fearful. If the latter is true, your dog probably has a good reason to mistrust this one child.

Step 3

Set clear guidelines with children regarding dog time. Children who cannot play gentle with the dog cannot play with the dog, period. Teach kids to back away if the dog growls, bares his teeth, or backs away from the kid. If children are too young to understand, do not allow them dog time unless you are there.

Step 4

Supervise all dog-child interactions closely. If a child tries to play rough with your dog or give your dog too many unwanted hugs, separate the two. Children need to be taught to be gentle with dogs.

Step 5

Give a dog who growls at certain kids time with a well-behaved child your dog knows and likes. This might be a child who knows how to give gentle pats and cookies, or even a child your dog feels comfortable just sitting in the same space with. Giving a growling dog a positive experience with a child can mitigate some of the underlying fear that's causing the growling.

Step 6

Find activities you, your dog and children can do together. For example, you can all go on a walk together. On a walk the child doesn't need to touch or engage with the dog, yet you are all spending time together and this can create a bond. Have the child avoid talking to the dog, touching the dog, or making eye contact until the dog's behavior changes.

Tip

  • While you can take steps to fix this problem on your own, a dog trainer can help break down what's going on so you can rehab your dog around children. Find a dog trainer to help you through this.

Warning

  • Dog aggression toward children can get worse, so do not delay on taking these actions.

References

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Elton Dunn is a freelance writer with over 14 years experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, technology, beauty and fashion writing. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College.

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