When dogs bite children it can be from fear or aggression, but many times it is what is called a ‘warning bite.’ The warning bite is usually a nip that doesn’t cause the child serious physical harm. It’s interpreted as a warning, because it’s the same way a dog would warn another dog who is in his space, hurting him or making him uncomfortable.
Dogs will also bite children if they aren’t familiar with them or aren’t used to being around a child’s energy. Because children are not able to interpret the dog’s language, almost all dog bites are a result of failure on the parents’ part to recognize and prevent potential problem situations, and teach their child how to act around dogs. However, dogs are also capable of learning to control their behavior and not bite.
1. Children should respect a dog’s things
Just like we teach our kids that it’s not ok to steal toys from each other, our children need to be taught that the dog’s things (toys, food bowl, crate, etc.) belong to them.
But children will make mistakes, so it helps to train your dog that if they give up their toy they will get a treat. That way, they will willingly give the child the toy instead of being possessive.
2. Children should respect a dog’s space
Kids can’t help but get in your face and don’t hesitate to get in a dog’s face either. So, they have to be taught to give a dog its personal space. A child putting their face in a dog’s face can be irritating to the dog, especially when the dog has no control over the child’s behavior.
3. Children should leave a dog alone sometimes
Most dogs dislike being disturbed when they are resting, sleeping, playing with other dogs, going to the bathroom or eating. Dogs should be able to do these things without interruption.
Some dogs even prefer a place like a krate where they can be away from kids. Any time a dog chooses to be left alone, they should be.
4. Children should handle dogs gently
Dogs dislike being handled roughly. They can be trained to tolerate being handled a little roughly by children, but it’s more effective to teach your child not to do it in the first place.
Children should not be allowed to pull a dog’s ears or tail, pull their hair, jump on them, crawl on them, push them, hit them, etc. This is another way to respect personal space.
5. Children should not be aggressive
In number four hitting and pushing are mentioned, but children sometimes do those things in a playful manner, not knowing that they are hurting or irritating a dog.
However, some children may take anger out on a dog who is in their way, sitting on their toy, etc. The same way a child shouldn’t hit another child, they also shouldn’t hit, kick or push dogs.
Some dogs will not react to these things at first, but eventually this will cause serious problems, even with the most patient dogs.
6. Children should be quiet and calm
Loud screaming can have negative effects on sound-sensitive dogs. Some dogs will be scared of loud children, while others will become aggravated or excited by them. This aggravation and excitement can cause behavioral problems in dogs.
You may end up with a dog biting children, or even a dog with symptoms of trauma due to their fear of loud noises. Children should be taught to keep quiet around dogs just as they should be taught to be quiet in other settings- restaurants, doctor’s offices, etc.
This, combined with a properly trained dog will make your entire family’s lives easier. There’s an excellent free video series by world famous trainer Doggy Dan which covers dog biting as well as more than 250 other important subjects.