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Basic Training

Keeping Dogs and Kids Safe Together

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It is important to teach children at a young age how to respect animals. I see pictures and videos online often of small children sitting and jumping on dogs, while the dogs have very stressed looks on their faces. Usually it is accompanied by “the dog just bit the child out of the blue.” In response to this, very rarely does a dog bite without showing signs prior. It is our job as dog owners to be aware of these signs, and not put our children or dogs in a dangerous position. Try to think of it the same way as if you were lying on the ground resting and somebody started sitting and jumping on you. You probably would not like it too much either. So why should a dog have to tolerate it?

Some signs of a stressed dog include:

  • Panting. (If a dog is panting and it is not directly after exercise, it is probably stress related.)
  • Whale eye. (Seeing the whites of the dog’s eyes.)
  • Ears back.
  • Lips stretched all the way back toward ears.
  • Tongue Flick/ Lip Lick.
  • Growling.

*These can all be precursors to a bite.

For some dogs the presence of a child is enough to make them feel uneasy. This is due to a couple factors. Kids move around quickly, make a lot of loud noises, and are rather unpredictable. If you combine those with being sat on, or jumped on you can easily have a situation where a dog bites because it feels it has no other choice.

Things children should not do to dogs:

  • Climb all over them. (Dogs are not jungle gyms.)
  • Ride them.
  • Poke, Pinch, or Punch them.
  • Interfere with them during mealtime.
  • Be unsupervised with them.

If your dog is nervous around children start to give him things that he loves when children are around. These things should be small and easily consumable. e.g. pieces of cheese, pieces of hot dog, turkey, chicken etc. For some cases it is a good idea to contact a trainer or a behaviorist that uses scientific methods to help.

One last thing that is also very important to teach children is to ask before they pet a strange dog. I always thank kids for asking before they pet my dog. I also remind them that they should ask if they forgot to.

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. Avatar Of Puplover



    i have an 8 year old cocker spaniel/poodle she is so beautiful but she constantly needs water about 4-5 times a day and she sits next to the bowl whining shes been doing this for the past 6 weeks what should I do

  2. Avatar Of Shannon Smarz

    Shannon Smarz


    My dogs are very trustworthy and seem to love children but we make sure an adult is always within an arms length at all times. I the adult absolutely must leave, (bathroom visit) child goes with or dog goes outside.

  3. Avatar Of Kitty



    if your dog has been in your home before the baby, let the dog sit close to your tummy and feel the baby move the same goes for cats, never push them away

    if your dog has been in your home before the baby, remember the very first dirty nappy, which is usually just water, present and give it to your dog, this way he can get use to the smell of the baby and it will know the baby belongs in the home, this really works great, tried it with a dog of 15 years old who did not like babies and small children. Even when I feed the baby I always let the dog lie next to me, the dog just loved being there and did nothing but enjoy us. I did leave my baby on the floor once with only the dog in the room, people will say not smart but nothing ever happened, only once when someone who the dog knew very well wanted to enter the room did the dog almost attack this person.

    now I have a grand child and I did the same again with the dog we had at that time and still have, so did my daughter when she was pregnant not so long ago, this dog as well did not feel anything for little children because they always like to tease him, the first nappy was his and he went totally nuts. when my daughter came home and they presented the baby to the dog he also went nuts, licked her and sniffed her everywhere, they now are best friends, and when he is fed up with her he just gets up and leaves and will lie down somewhere else, which doesn’t happen very often

    now we have 3 young dogs as well and my grand daughter is a bit older, with one of the dogs she can do anything, she just loves the attention she gets and if my grand daughter want to keep the dog busy the dog will do anything she can think of to get the attention she wants, yes I do leave them unattended at times, well actually most of the times. And yes I trust my dogs not to do anything, why because the dogs do not show any fear in there way of movement. If you do not push you animals away when there is a child, when you are attending this child or any other thing your are doing with this child things won’t go wrong, its not the dogs fault for being nasty but the owners fault for behaving this way.

    • Avatar Of Todd



      I believe strongly in letting the dog and the infant/child to get to know each other, but your methods are are careless. If you know anything about dogs and pack structure, they are prone to challenging and asserting dominance over children, especially babies and toddlers, in a one on one interaction. I know, it will not happen in every case, but I would hate to be you when your “experiment” doesn’t work. Is it worth having a disfigured child or maybe even a dog that has to be put down. Supervision and boundaries are necessary. Just be smart.

      • Avatar Of Destinee



        I don’t quite agree with you Todd. If you actually read the post all the way through you will notice that this was her method of introducing her child and grand child to her pets. Not everyone will have the same idea. This method just happened to work for her. If you have a method that has worked for you by all means stick with it. I personally think you scolding her for this is just plain rude. She openly stated that she very rarely leaves a young child unattended with a dog. She also stated that her granddaughter is now older and is more trusted on being alone with the dog. Also if you have ever watched multiple dog trainers not one of them, I’m almost positive that none of them, will train all dogs the same way. As best interests of the dogs and their owners it is best to consider the dogs temperament as well as the comfort of the owner.

  4. Avatar Of Liz



    This is interesting because just last night at my therapy certification dog class…our instructor said the same thing! She was commenting on the pictures & videos on FB and other sites that she’s seen with kids & dogs. The look on soem of these dog’s faces is ANYTHING but enjoyment! The fact that there is no one supervising the child, since the adult is BEHIND

  5. Avatar Of Amy



    Nice article Kevin. Great advice. I have been giving Holly a small biscuit everytime I feed the baby since that means we all have to share the couch (Holly, Ava, and I) and she used to consider couch time ‘our’ time. Now she looks forward to Ava coming with me to sit down, and is disappointed when I’m not accompanied by the baby 🙂

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