Dogs and Kids
Dogs and kids can make great companions for one
another. With parental supervision and help, dogs can help
kids learn to respect life and to care responsibly for
another being. Children can enrich dogs’ lives by
being social companions, friends, and playmates. However,
if both are not taught to behave properly around each other,
dogs and kids can frighten and injure one another.
All kinds of problems can develop between kids and dogs.
A common complaint is the dog becoming too rough during
play. The child’s behavior may or may not be a contributing
factor. Some dogs may just become too excited too easily,
but some children may also purposely “wind the dog
up”, resulting in the dog knocking the child down
or grabbing clothing.
Dogs are often afraid and defensive around young children.
Children do not behave, move or talk like adults do. Their
jerky movements, high pitched yells and unpredictable behaviors
are difficult for many dogs to tolerate. Dogs will be more
likely to be comfortable around children if they are “socialized” or
exposed to well behaved, gentle children during the sensitive
period for socialization, from 4-12 weeks of age.
Helping kids and dogs be safe around one another involves
more than training and socializing the dog. Children must
also be trained to respect dogs and learn to be kind and
gentle with them. Children also need to learn how to behave
around unfamiliar dogs so they can be safe.
In many of the serious and fatal bite cases we’ve
consulted on, a lack of parental supervision was a factor
in many of them. Warning signs that the dog may not be
safe, or was being maintained in an unsafe way, were also
If you are concerned about the safety of your child around
your dog or someone else’s, seek professional help
sooner rather than later. Know how to choose a behavior
consultant by reading our report on the subject.
Never, ever leave young children and dogs together unsupervised
no matter how well behaved you think both of them are.
Accidents can happen. Don’t allow your children to
play roughly with your dog, or your dog to be overly excited
and out of control with your kids.
PRODUCTS FROM HELPING FIDO THAT
WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND, PREVENT AND RESOLVE PROBLEMS
BETWEEN KIDS AND DOGS
We believe that the earlier you start creating a good
relationship between your child and your dog, the better
for both. That’s why we created our DVD “Helping
Fido Welcome Your Baby”. Based on the
course by the same name we’ve taught to pregnant
couples at Denver area hospitals for years, this program
describes concrete steps you must take to prepare your
dog for your baby’s arrival as soon as you learn
you are pregnant. Includes what to do the day you bring
baby home and how to troubleshoot common problems after
your baby arrives.
A great companion for our DVD, especially for the slightly
noise sensitive dog, is “Preparing
a recording of all kinds of baby sounds. From endearing
cooing to the sound of a screaming infant that makes you
want to punch the stop button immediately, use this with
the desensitization and counter conditioning procedures
described in our DVD to help your dog overcome any fear
or excessive reactivity to baby sounds.
Cats and Kids” - A wonderful
DVD program by our friend and colleague Dr. Wayne Hunthausen
meant for parents or other adults to watch with their children.
A great list of dos and don’ts are explained in the
We also recommend
Raising Puppies and Kids Together. A Guide for Parents by
Pia Silvani and Lynn Eckhardt.
A fine book by our friend and colleague Ms. Pia Silvani,