Jeff Tinsley is the owner and behavior therapist at Sound Animals Dog Training. He specializes in rescue/shelter dogs, and behavior modification. His nearly 20 years of experience working with anxiety, fear, and aggression issues.
How to teach a dog to like small children.
Another tool that I use to help with child dog interaction is what I call “toddler training.” Toddler training is where an adult behaves like the child when they are interacting with the dog to help the dog become desensitize to the way toddlers act. For example, you can yank, pull on the dog’s tails, fur or feet while giving high-value treats. By repeating this, the dog will become comfortable with the unfamiliar or uncomfortable to them.
How to get your dog used to interact with children?
One of the biggest mistakes that we can make as dog owners is to assume that all parents have trained their kids how to behave around dogs properly. It is a common assumption, which can often lead to dangerous outcomes. Instead, we need to focus on training our dogs to be bulletproof around kids.
Children tend to be higher energy than adults and interact with dog’s differently. They are noisy, small, move quickly and are extremely unpredictable. To make your dog bulletproof around children, you need to get him accustomed to how children act and behave.
One thing you can do as an adult is to act in a similar manner that a child would. To do this, slowly allow yourself to get a little more playful while interacting with your dog — tug on toys, hug your dog, lay on your dog, dress up your dog and give lots of treats.
How to help your dog to like kids?
Surround your dog with noisy kids, perhaps visiting a playground, while giving treats to get him used to that type of environment. Of course, remember to do this in moderation as to ensure your dog isn’t put into a position that will make him uncomfortable.
Build a stronger bond between your dog and your child. Encourage your child to train your dog with you. Training helps the dog understand that the child is also part of the family and needs to be taken seriously. It can also help your child feel like they have control of the dog and can give him direction when needed.
Never leave a dog unattended with a child as accidents can occur at any moment. If an adult is not there to read the dog’s behavior, a child could push the dog too far, causing the dog to play rougher than he understands and potentially hurt the child. So much can happen that you really should not take the risk.