It's important to teach our children to respect animals. Teaching them the proper way to interact with the family dog is crucial, but you'll also need to learn how to train a dog to behave around kids. Just because your child learns to respect your dog doesn't mean the dog is automatically going to know how to behave around the youngest members of your human family.
Kids and dogs are both highly unpredictable. You never know what they'll do next, which makes for a very dangerous combination. They should not be allowed to be unsupervised until you are 100% sure that they both understand how to behave around each other.
Children need to learn to respect dogs, like I explained in this video. They need to give dogs plenty of space and not be too rough with them.
Likewise, dogs need to learn that they have to behave around children. They need to act calm and learn to deal with the unpredictable things that children do.
Sadly, there are some dogs that do not enjoy being around children. If your dog shows any signs of aggression around children, you need to work with a professional dog trainer that specializes in working with kids and dogs. This is a very serious situation, and it's not safe for you to try and handle it on your own.
Before you begin learning how to train a dog to behave around kids, he should already be trained with basic commands. Your dog should know how to properly walk on a leash, how to come when he is called and how to sit. It's also imperative that he has learned not to jump before you introduce him to children.
How To Train A Dog To Behave Around Kids
Whether you have children in your home or not, you need to learn how to train a dog to behave around kids. You may have guests who visit your home with their children or you may take your Fido outside the home where he will encounter kids.
No matter what, all dogs should be taught how to act around children.
Think about the common traits of children. Sure, they're cute, funny, and they can be sweet, but they're also loud and make lots of fast movements. You need to help your dog get accustomed to the positive and negative aspects of being around children.
If you have kids of your own, this will be easy. Your dog will be exposed to children all day long, meaning he'll quickly get used to the noise and busyness that they bring. However, if you don't have children of your own this may be a bit more difficult.
If there are no kids in your home, you will need to take your dog somewhere that children are present. It's best to do this as soon after you adopt your dog as possible.
Public parks, beaches, and other areas that children may be playing are all great places to bring your pet for a walk.
Be sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times until you are completely sure that he knows how to behave around children. Let's say you bring him to the park to gain exposure to kids. Walk him around the perimeter of the park at first so that he does not have access to the children.
As I explain in my video guide above, it's best to use a harness and leash that say “Do Not Pet” when first taking your Fido to public places where children are present.
This is most important if you adopt an older dog, as puppies typically aren't aggressive toward children when exposed to them at a very young age. If you don't want to use a well marked harness and leash, be sure to be aware of anyone coming toward your dog and ask them to keep a safe distance.
READ MORE: 35 Best Medium and Small Dogs for Kids
Once you're sure that your dog has had plenty of exposure to kids and you're sure that he is not going to act aggressively, it's time to let him play with some children. If you don't have kids of your own, invite family members or friends with children to come over and play.
You need to be sure that your dog's first encounters with kids are all positive.
When learning how to train a dog to behave around kids, safety is the top priority. Adopt the right breed and always keep your dog on a leash during the first few encounters until you're 100% sure that he won't react aggressively to the kids. Again, this is most important with adult dogs, as puppies typically enjoy being around young ones.
As I mentioned, your dog should already know basic commands. If you have kids of your own, this is obviously impossible, but you should work on command training as soon as you bring your dog home.
Give the children a few dog treats before they walk into the house. While on the leash, allow your dog to walk over and greet the kids. If he greets them calmly without jumping, they can give him a treat. If he is too excited, make him wait until he calms down before allowing him to greet the kids.
If your dog responds timidly to children, enlist the help of some calm, older children to help you.
Take Home Message
Remember, if your dog acts aggressively in any way when introduced to children, you need to seek the help of a professional dog trainer. Oftentimes older dogs or dogs that have had negative experiences with children in the past will show signs of aggression when confronted by a child.
The signs that you should be looking for include:
- the dog becoming very still or rigid
- curling lips to show teeth
- poking the child with their muzzle
- lunging toward the child
- snapping or nipping
Learning how to train a dog to behave around kids isn't the only thing you should be worried about. Children also need to know how to properly act around dogs. I've made a video guide on this topic as well. It explains what children need to know about dogs and how to teach them safe ways to interact and have fun with canine companions.
VIEW FULL GUIDE: How To Teach Kids To Behave Around Dogs