Last Updated on December 11, 2021 by Marco C.
Dog aggression towards a child isn’t a common occurrence, but it does happen, potentially harming your child or yourself. Even though dogs usually flaunt the title of child protector proudly, a dog being aggressive towards a child isn’t an isolated incident. There are, unfortunately, many examples of dogs being irrationally aggressive towards kids, which is something you want to avoid. Luckily, there are many potential reasons for this, and experts have a whole arsenal of solutions up their sleeves!
Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Children?
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If your dog bites a child unprovoked or if your dog is growling at a child for no reason, it probably has behavior problems. Dogs are usually quite friendly towards humans and being unreasonably aggressive isn’t part of their character. However, there can be many external motivators behind this.
If your dog is being aggressive towards a child, there’s most likely a perfectly explainable reason behind it.
The Child Is Bugging The Dog
This is actually the most common reason behind dogs behaving erratically. If you pull the dog by its tail, it’s going to move away and brush it off the first couple of times. However, dogs don’t appreciate being picked at, and the animal will eventually strike back. Most dogs won’t bite as their initial response, but they will growl and show their teeth.
If your child is doing something to provoke an attack from the dog, stop them!
The Dog Might Be Ill
Dogs tend to become very sensitive when they’re sick. If your dog is injured or is suffering from some illness, it’ll most likely become agitated. This is a completely normal reaction – the dog knows it’s vulnerable. This is especially common if your dog has been dealing with a problem for a longer time. It’s even possible for dogs to become easily provoked when they’re dealing with smaller health issues, like constipation.
Dogs are territorial animals and they may feel like their territory is being taken over by your child. This isn’t that common of a reaction with humans, as dogs usually become territorial with other dogs, but it is possible. Most dogs will loosen up once they recognize that your child is not a threat.
According to veterinarians, fear is usually the most common reason for a dog’s aggressive or otherwise erratic behavior. This fear is usually caused by something that’s difficult for us, the owners, to grasp. This is more likely to happen if you rescue a dog that’s been abused. A lot of dogs that have been rescued by their new owners still carry trauma. In this sense, dogs are very similar to humans – psychological trauma remains.
It’s possible that, in their past life, your dog was abused by children or it has some other bad experiences with children. If that is the case, it’s rational for the dog to be afraid of kids and react in self-defense. However, despite this situation being tragic, it can be solved!
What To Do If Your Dog Is Showing Aggression Towards A Child?
Experts will often warn, and fairly so, of just how dangerous a dog can be for a child if the dog doesn’t behave. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to work with the dog and get it to become friendly with children.
The ultimate goal of every exercise is to make the dog feel more comfortable around children. We must stress that your child’s safety should always be a top priority and you should always remove them from any dangerous situation if the dog becomes too agitated.
The first exercise you could try is conditioning. Whenever your child approaches the dog or goes near the dog, give the dog a treat. Hopefully, if the dog starts becoming more relaxed, it will allow for your child to feed it. This way, the dog will make a connection between your child and a pleasant experience (eating a treat).
Another thing that you should do is seek help from an expert. Dog training has become a real industry nowadays and there are many experts out there who are more than capable of working with your dog. This is, honestly, the ideal and the safest solution – these experts have a lot of experience with dogs that are misbehaving in one way or another and know exactly what to do with them.
Preventing Dog Aggression
The best solution to any problem is to prevent it all together, and learning how to prevent dog aggression towards your child will ensure that your child is safe from any harm.
There are many steps recommended by experts that you can take to prevent dog aggression.
The most common one is spaying or neutering your dog. This is very often the most effective solution, especially with male dogs, which are traditionally much more aggressive than female dogs. Experts also recommend that you think about this early on, as it’s best to do this when your dog is still young!
You should also never teach your dog to behave in a way that you wouldn’t want to behave with your child. For example, larger dogs, especially male dogs, love to wrestle with their owners. Some dogs also love to jump on their owners and bite them, lovingly – not in an attempt to hurt their master. This can be dangerous with children! A dog doesn’t understand that children are much more vulnerable than adults.
You should never teach your dog to treat your child the same way it treats you!
Lastly, you should definitely work with your dog and a dog trainer! It doesn’t matter if your dog is being aggressive or not, it will certainly help your dog’s behavior along the way and you’ll teach your dog to be more disciplined.
In summation; dogs usually aren’t aggressive towards children, and if they are, they usually have a reason for that aggression. The best solution is visiting an expert dog trainer and working with them to solve this unhealthy behavior. It’s also important to recognize signs of dog aggression and take all the necessary steps to prevent this aggression before it starts to manifest!