TAGS: training | behavior

Train Your Dog To Behave With Kids 10 Best Tips

11 Sep, 2023

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Training dogs to coexist safely and peacefully with kids is something every dog owner desires. Even for dog owners who do not have kids at home, training your dog to behave appropriately around children is essential. If your dog jumps on an unsuspecting child in public or gets overly excited, it can be a scary experience for all the parties involved. In this article, we go through the 10 best ways to train and teach your dog to get along great with kids. As a dog owner who has 20 cousins who are under the age of 13, I can tell you that these strategies work. My Belgian Malinois immediately changes her body language and temperament when she is around children.


1 - Use Positive Reinforcement 

Positive reinforcement should always be at the back of your mind when it comes to teaching your dog something new. We placed this as the number one importance because all of the techniques mentioned in this article should be followed with positive reinforcement. When your dog behaves correctly, for example, behaves very gently around a child, reward them with treats, praise, and petting. This technique will reinforce all the great work you put into teaching your dog to get along with children.


2 - Train Your Dog To Not Jump Up

In most scenarios, your dog jumping up on a small child is the main concern. Generally speaking, some of your house guests will not like when your dog jumps up on them, so this is a good skill to learn in all situations. For kids especially, if your dog thinks it is okay to jump up, your dog can easily knock the child over and inadvertently hurt them. If your dog can successfully learn that they should not be jumping up on anyone, you have already dramatically reduced the chance of having a bad encounter with a child.


3 - Gradual Introductions

As responsible dog owners, we need to be aware of every situation. If our dog is about to meet a child for the first time, then it is best to introduce them in a calm and controlled manner. Always start with short, supervised play sessions and gradually increase the time they spend together as your dog becomes more familiar with the child. 


4 - Better Understanding of Dog Body Language

To ensure safe interactions with a dog, dog owners and children must be more aware of dog body language. If we learn what our dog is feeling based on their body language, we will know when it is time to give our dog a break from an interaction they no longer feel comfortable in. You can check out the in-depth research article that was written on this topic to learn more about understanding dog body language.


5 - Create Safe Zones For Your Dog

When you are introducing your dog to new people, it is possible that your dog may get overwhelmed at some point. It is important to have an area that your dog can retreat to if they need a break. For many dog owners, this can be a crate or simply a designated spot in the house where your dog knows they will be left alone. If you are in a public space, then bringing your dog off to the side where nobody is paying them attention can be enough to give them their private space.


6 - Remain Calm Yourself

Dogs can pick up on their owner's emotions and feelings. If you are clearly stressed in a situation where your dog is meeting a toddler for the first time, then there is a good chance that your dog will be stressed as well. According to the RSPCA, Dogs can sniff out human emotions by smell alone. This demonstrates just how keen our dogs are at picking up our emotions. Always keep your cool, and you will notice your dog remains calm as well.


7 - Positive Associations With Toddlers

Something that has worked for me when introducing my dog to a new toddler is letting the child give my dog a treat as they meet each other. Your dog will learn that toddlers are friends, and the positive interaction will start the relationship on the right foot. From there, you can move to some gentle and supervised play sessions to further the connection between your dog and the child.


8 - Never Leave Your Dog Unattended

No matter how comfortable your dog is with children, play should always be supervised. Dogs are incredibly strong animals and often don't realize their own strength. Even if they are playing gently in their minds, they may inadvertently be hurting a small child. Always watch your dog so you can intervene at a moment's notice if the play session gets a bit too rough.


9 - Desensitization

Get your dog used to seeing dogs in many different settings, even from afar. Taking them to the park where children are playing is an excellent way for your dog to adapt to the sounds, smells, and behaviors of children. Always keep your dog on a leash in these scenarios. Top Dog Tips offers a great video on training your dog to behave around kids with visuals.


10 - Respect Your Dog's Feelings

It is possible that your dog may be afraid or uncomfortable around kids. Never pressure them to socialize if they clearly do not want to. If your dog wants to socialize and play with kids, then it will happen naturally. Every dog is different, and while some dogs may be ready to play with every kid they meet, other dogs may need to warm up to each one individually. Being a responsible pet owner is being able to Learn your dogs signals and react accordingly. 



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