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Ask the Trainer: My Dog Has Become Aggressive Toward Children

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Dear Kevin,
Autumn is a 4yr old mini dachshund. She is a very sweet dog but lately around small children she barks at them as if she may bite. How do I ease her anxiety around little ones?
Thank you,

Hey Kylee,

Firstly, I want to let you know never to punish her if she growls/barks at a child. This is a warning sign that she is uncomfortable. If we punish her for warning us, then she may just start to bite without warning. That being said we can actually change the way that she looks at children.

We can do this by having her around kids and only good things happening to her. For example: She is with you somewhere and a child walks by her at a safe distance and tosses her something she loves. The job of the child would just be to walk a straight line past her at a safe distance while tossing treats. When she is comfortable with that you can increase the energy level of the child tossing the treat. (Maybe he jogs by her instead of walking.) When that is going well add in another child and start off pretty calm. Increase the energy level as she is doing well. How long this will take is dependent upon how uncomfortable she is around children currently.

Over time, Autumn will learn to associate children with good things (treats, praise, a toy, etc – whichever is most valuable to her) and will be happy to see them instead of uncomfortable.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Of Peter



    My dog avoids children for some reason. While she is generally shy around new people, she seems to be genuinely afraid of children and walks quickly away from them if they start coming towards her (but never shows aggression). I think it may be because they are unpredictable and tend to poke and grab and pull things that the dog doesn’t like.

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