Guest Post - Children and Dogs Part 3 - The Trupanion Blog
Underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company

Guest Post – Children and Dogs Part 3

The following is a guest post by Susan Oshie, owner of Paws 4 Training in Seattle, Wash. Susan has a passion for promoting the health and well being of animals and helps them become well-trained pets that their owners are proud to live with. Sign up for her classes at


  • Tail between legs
  • Tail low and only the end is wagging
  • Tail between legs and wagging
  • Tail down or straight for curly-tailed dogs (huskies, malamutes, pugs, chow chows, etc.)
  • Ears sideways for erect-eared dogs
  • Ears back and very rapid panting
  • Dog goes into another room away from you and urinates or defecates (please find a professional behavior consultant for help with this)

All dogs should have a safe place, such as a crate or mat that they can go to when they want to be left alone. All family members and guests should be taught not to bother the
dog when he is in his safe place.


Never punish your dog for growling. This may seem counter-intuitive and may even go against the advice of your dog trainer or dog trainers you have seen on TV. If your dog growls at your child he is sending a clear warning that he is very uncomfortable with the actions or proximity of the child. Be grateful that your dog chose to warn with a growl rather than going straight to a bite.

If you punish the growling, you may inhibit the warning growl the next time and the dog may bite without growling first. Punishment or scolding will not make the dog feel better about the child, in fact he may even feel more anxious and be even more likely to bite in the future, especially if you are not there to control the situation.

If your child cannot follow directions and/or has got into the habit of being rough with the dog, then the dog and child should be separated until the child has learned to treat the dog with kindness and respect.

Final Thoughts

  • Increase supervision.
  • Take your dog to the vet to make sure he is not sick or in pain.
  • Seek the advice of a dog behavior specialist who will use positive reinforcement to help teach the dog to change his attitude and to enjoy the company of the child.
  • Do not assume that the dog will not bite because he hasn’t yet. As dogs get older they can become less tolerant. As children get older the dog can become less tolerant of rough treatment.

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