What do you do when your dog hates your child? Let’s Explore

Why Do Dogs Fear Children?

There are two major reasons why dogs may develop a fear of children.

  • A lack of early socialization: Dogs who arent exposed to children as puppies may become fearful when they meet them later in life. When they encounter children for the first time as adult dogs, they may be extremely frightened by the unfamiliar size, smells, noises, and movements of children.
  • The aftermath of a negative experience: Dogs may also develop a fear of children after a painful or unsettling interaction. Young children often have a tendency to pull tails, grab handfuls of fur, steal toys, and even poke eyes. Some dogs are tolerant of childrens poking and prodding. Other dogs may develop a fear of children after only one bad experience.
  • Because its unlikely that a dog will go through its entire life without ever meeting a child, its important that you work on managing your dogs fear. This is not only for the sake of your dog; it is also important to prevent dog bites and other injuries to children.

    Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to minimize your dogs fear around children.

    If you have just brought home a puppy, start socializing it with children right away. Puppies got through a peak socialization period at around 8 to 12 weeks of age, during which time they should be exposed to as many different situations as possible. Keep in mind that all interactions should be supervised and kept as positive, upbeat, and calm as possible. Working on socialization now may save you lots of time, effort, and anguish later on.

    Many people have pets before they have children. Then theyre surprised when their dogs growl or snap at the new infant or toddler. This can be a heartbreaking situation for the dog owner and the dog, but the key to preventing the problem is early and frequent socialization.

    What do you do when your dog hates your child?

    Never leave your dog unsupervised with children. This should be the rule for all dogs but especially for a dog whos afraid of children or if its not known whether the dog is afraid. Prematurely leaving them alone to play puts both the dog and the children in a bad position that can result in even greater fear in the dog or an injury to the children. When a fearful dog (or a new dog) is around children, dont take your eyes off them for a second and be ready to separate them at the first sign that the dog is becoming uncomfortable.

    Dont force your dog to make friends with a child. Making your dog stand still while a child approaches it or pets it is asking for trouble. If a fearful dog is pushed too far beyond its comfort zone, aggression can be the result, particularly if it is prevented from leaving the stressful situation. Dont put your dog in a position where it feels forced to defend itself.

    Provide a Safe Space

    All dogs need a quiet, safe space where they can be left alone. If your dog is afraid of children, make sure it has a safe, quiet spot it can get to when children are around but that the children cannot access. If your dog is crate trained, a crate makes a perfect hiding spot. Dont allow children anywhere near your dogs safe area.

    If you have children and a fearful dog living in the same household, its important that your children have rules to follow. They should never be allowed to interact with the dog unsupervised, and they should know never to try to take the dogs toys or approach the dog while its eating or sleeping.

    Its also important that you spend time teaching your children the right way to interact with dogs. This includes how to touch your dog with gentle petting rather than poking, prodding, and pulling.

    Desensitize your dog to scary situations

    Even with the best prevention and management techniques, unexpected things happen. A child may suddenly run toward your dog, unexpectedly touch or hug him, or pull his tail. You can prepare your dog for these frightening situations by systematically desensitizing him.

    Get your dog used to fast movements by practicing with him yourself in a controlled environment. Make sure you start at a pace and distance that your dog can handle. You may have to begin with walking, then jogging, then running toward your dog. Very gradually increase your pace and the intensity of your movements. Praise and reward your dog and never go past his comfort level.

    To get your dog used to unexpected touches, start by gently touching him all over his body. If he tolerates being touched everywhere, move to gently pulling his ears and tail, nudging and even hugging him. Build up very gradually; for example, hug him lightly for a brief second, then work up to gradually hugging him a bit tighter and then for a little longer. After each action, reward him with a yummy treat. The goal is not to make your dog uncomfortable, but to increase his tolerance for those uncomfortable situations should they ever occur.

    You can desensitize your dog in this manner to any situations that frighten him and that he may encounter in real life — e.g. stepping over him while he is lying down, touching him when he is not looking, or sudden loud noises. Always start at a level where your dog is comfortable and then gradually build on that. And always make it a positive experience for him. If he shows signs of stress, you progressed too fast. Go back to a level where he was comfortable and build up from there.

    My dog doesn’t like kids- Why is my dog aggressive towards kids?

    It’s every owner’s worst fear: You’ve brought home the pup of your dreams, and he gets along with everyone in the family — except for one person.

    Aggression toward any family member, whether severe or mild, should be addressed right away to prevent the situation from escalating. What starts as a small growl could turn into a much more complex problem over time.