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How to Teach Dogs to Like Kids

Teach your dog fun, friendly ways to interact with kids on the street.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #56

What to Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Like Kids

You’re going to feel like hell if your dog scares or bites a child, to say nothing of the potential lawsuit. So be observant, proactive, and honest. If your dog hides behind your legs when she sees a kid coming, she will not enjoy meeting him. If she sits with her mouth drawn tight and her head averted while kids pet her, this is not her party. If she has growled or snapped at a child, get thee to a competent behavior professional ASAP.

If your dog is uneasy with children, protect her and them. Refuse requests to meet the doggy. Step between your dog and rapidly oncoming kids. Get out of the way if you can. Hold out your hand flat and shout “Stop!” if you have to; hurt feelings are better than a bite. If your dog has bitten anyone on the street, think hard about walking her with a muzzle.

A friendly, well-trained dog can help children learn to behave safely around dogs without fear. How often do you get so much entertainment while doing good?

That’s it for this week. You can follow The Dog Trainer on Twitter, where I’m Dogalini, as well as on Facebook, and write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. Phone me at 206-600-5661. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and I answer as many questions as I can. That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

Resources

Dogs and Storks and Living with Kids and Dogs are excellent websites chock full of resources for helping kids and dogs coexist happily. I also recommend two books by Colleen Pelar, who owns the Living with Kids and Dogs site: Living with Kids and Dogs … Without Losing Your Mind (C&R Publishing, 2005) and Kids and Dogs: A Professional’s Guide to Helping Families (Dream Dog Productions, 2009). The latter is intended for trainers and behavior consultants, but I often recommend it to clients anyway.

Learn about canine body language from these excellent books:

Collins, Sophie. Tail Talk (Collins, 2007).

Handelman, Barbara. Canine Behavior: A Photo Illustrated Handbook (Woof and Word Press, 2008).

Some good websites present and explain photos of dog behavior. See http://www.squidoo.com/readyerdog and http://www.wagntrain.com/BodyLanguage.htm for two I really like.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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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).