Dog aggression towards children – Reasons and actions to take

dog aggression towards children

Dogs are wonderful companions of humans in life. However, some bad behaviors like dog aggression towards children can move in unexpectedly and pose a potential risk to your child’s safety. So, what are the root causes of this canine bad manner, and how to avoid such a situation? Animalsvote is here to help you find out the answer.

Reasons why dogs being aggressive towards a child

There’s a subtle line between puppies zoomies biting and a dog being aggressive towards children as the two share the same biting behaviors. While in the former case, it is a natural behavior with almost no intentional motive, the second one is likely to pose more potential risks. However, in both cases, it is understandable and fixable.  Here are a few reasons for dog aggression towards children.

dog aggression towards children

Lack of socializing while young

Usually, the main reason lies in the inadequate socialization with kids when a dog was young. Without a proper introduction to a variety of people since the beginning, pooches will lack certain skills to read us.  And it’s even harder for your furry friend to read children as kids are unable to discipline themselves like adult pet owners. They can be very loud, move quickly, or unintentionally hurt a dog. Consequently, if your dog is unsure or unable to make sense of these actions, chances are he will become aggressive and fearful.

Bad experiences

Sometimes, your dog might not have been quite enough to build confidence around kids due to a bad experience with them. If he was abused or mistreated, he will learn to fear or show his aggression towards children with good reason. It might take a while to regain his trust. 

Related post: How To Get An Abused Dog To Trust You?

How we are affected

So naturally, some pet owners often get worried that their dog is going to bite. Some might cringe when a child comes near a dog because they don’t know what’s going to happen. To make the matter worse, they might end up avoiding kids on the street, walking their dog late at night when no one else is around. These actions only set dogs on high alert towards children. He creates a cycle to protect himself and then gets progressively worse.

Inappropriate behaviors of children

Both children and dogs could be unpredictable in their actions, and therefore can easily surprise each other when interacting. Sometimes, kids can behave inappropriately towards dogs by pulling their tails, hair, or ears. According to the CDC, 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog biting each year, half of which are children. Dog biting is most prevalent among children at the age of 5 to 9 and is more prevalent among boys. 

How to prevent dog aggression towards children

The best way to address dog aggression toward children is to prevent it from the starting point. Below are some highlights that you can apply to avoid such a situation. 

Make sure your dog gets good and enough socialization with children

During the socialization period (from 6 to 14 weeks old), puppies are highly eager and curious about new things. It’s also the right time to let your little friend have numerous positive encounters with children of all ages. This will help them cultivate a positive attitude towards kids later on in life. 

dog aggression towards children

After 14 weeks old, puppies are considerably more apprehensive of their surroundings and may react more fearfully to threatening factors. It is crucial to avoid any negative experience during this time as much as possible. Do not use punishment or physical penalty. Striking a dog can specifically cause a fear of being touched and may put children at a greater risk. 

Considerations before adopting a dog

When choosing a dog for a family with children, take several factors into account. Consider the dog’s breed and family history as well as his history of behavior around children. Try to spend more time with the dog before adopting him into a house with kids. Look for signs of avoidance, fear, and apprehension in the dog or in the children.

Introduce a new dog to children in a proper manner

Keeping children safe is the primary concern. Try to expose the dog to the child in a comfortable setting and at the far distance in which the dog is showing no signs of aggression. Watch for subtle signs of canine fear or stress such as lip licking, yawning, trembling, ears down, tail tucked,… 

You can use a leash to maintain control of the dog. Then, slowly give the dog simple commands (e.g., shake, stand up, sit down) and reward these tasks with favored treats. Over some successive sessions, the dog might be able to move closer to the child. If the dog becomes tense or refuses treats, then back up to his comfort zone. Once the dog is accustomed to the presence of the kids, they can practice giving the dog treats and verbal commands as well. 

Remember to not leave kids and infants alone with any dog. If your pooch finds the situation stressful or shows unwanted responses, calm him down and immediately remove him from the situation. Also, it’s a good practice to make sure you have good verbal control of your dog. You can also have children give known commands to the dog if the introduction is going well. 

Teach your children how to safely interact with dogs

Children should be taught proper interaction around dogs as early as 18 months old. You can positively reward them for good interaction and immediately stop their inappropriate actions. All interactions between a kid and an unfamiliar, fearful, or aggressive dog should be under supervision. An important note is that you’d better keep the dog active in the introduction. 

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