How to Prevent Your Dog From Biting Kids

When do dogs bite kids? What situations are most dangerous? Learn the triggers and techniques to avoid biting.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #114
Dog with girl

In an earlier article, I discussed resource guarding and how to prevent it. If your dog guards his food, toys, or resting spots, then keep toys put away, be sure there’s a physical barrier between him and your child when the dog is eating or resting, and get a competent specialist in behavior modification to help you manage the problem and defuse it as much as possible.

An older child visiting a friend may not think twice about entering a yard where there’s a familiar dog. But if the dog wasn’t appropriately socialized in puppyhood, he may react aggressively to people entering the yard or house, even if he’s met them before. Such territory guarding seems to be the most common trigger for dog bites to older children. So if your child is visiting friends who have a dog, be sure the dog greets guests in friendly, welcoming ways. If your dog is the one who’s touchy about people stopping by, crate or otherwise confine him, and, again, get professional help.

Should You Rehome Your Dog?

It is reasonable to consider rehoming your dog if you have a significant worry that he may bite your child. Most rehomed dogs adjust well and bond quickly with their new guardians. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope a bite won’t happen; your child doesn’t deserve to get hurt, and if your dog does bite a child, your options for placing him drop off steeply.

Dog bites are scary.  So let’s remind ourselves once again that although dogs often growl, snap, and bite, serious injury is surprisingly rare. We can help by appropriately socializing our puppies, by avoiding force and coercion in training our dogs, and by informing ourselves about dogs’ needs and body language so everybody can stay best friends.

Visit The Dog Trainer on Facebook, follow me as Dogalini on Twitter, and write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I usually can’t reply personally, but I read all your emails and may use them as the basis for future episodes. Have a safe, happy week with your dog!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).