By Renee Premaza
Dog Obedience Trainer & Behavior Consultant
A dog is a dog, not a human child.
A dog has no morals and doesn't recognize right from wrong.
A dog sees a young child as a "littermate" not a leader.
Both dog and child need constant supervision when they're together!
Do not expect your dog to tolerate childish behaviors that cause pain and/or discomfort to your dog!
Your 5-year-old will not understand why he is not to pester your dog when he's sleeping! A 5-year-old child does not understand that his dog could wake up startled by his sudden approach and bite him. A 5-year-old child does not think that his dog could bite him if he pulls on his tail or ears or sits on him. A young child needs supervision when he's with his dog. You can tell him not to do something until you're blue in the face. He may not listen to you.
Physically remove your child from the dog if the child is behaving inappropriately. If you do not do this, your child could get bitten.
Teach your child to behave appropriately with your dog and make sure to reinforce your rules!
Never allow your child to be on the floor at face-level. Young children should be sitting on furniture or standing when interacting with any dog.
Dogs play-bite! When they are with their doggy littermates, that is how they play with one another. When children get on the floor with a dog, the dog automatically behaves toward the child the way he would a littermate. Avoid facial injuries by keeping children on furniture when the dog is in the same room.
Never allow children (or husband) to roughhouse with your dog. This will cause your dog to play-bite and he will learn to play rough with everyone! Rough play will produce biting behaviors and you will find it difficult to undo this habit later on.
Every time you or your children interact with your dog, you are training him!
If you have a puppy, whatever you allow your puppy to do when he's young will follow through when he becomes an adolescent/adult.
If you think a particular behavior is amusing when your dog is a puppy, do not think he will "grow out of it" when he matures! By laughing at him or allowing him to practice a behavior, he will learn this behavior gets him positive attention, and he will choose that behavior all the time.
Think more than twice before allowing your dog to sleep in the bed with your children. Dogs belong in their own beds on the floor!
Avoid spoiling your dog, as well as your children. Both species will become demanding and obnoxious!
You send your children to school to learn how to become well-behaved and knowledgeable adults. Take your dog to school for those same reasons. A well-behaved and mannerly dog is a pleasure to live with!
Involve your children in your dog's training and supervise them during their lessons together.
The more your children work with your dog to educate him, the more your dog will see them as valuable leaders in the home.
Do not place inappropriate responsibilities onto the shoulders of your children. Give a child 1 or 2 easy and fun things to do with/for the dog and supervise to make sure things go smoothly. Avoid making those responsibilities drudgery for the child. Be sure to positively reinforce your child if he is doing a good job!
If either the dog or the child are behaving inappropriately with each other, your responsibility is to prevent those behaviors from ever happening. Bad habits develop easily. Bad habits are hard to break!
Never, never, never physically punish your dog! Your dog will learn you cannot be trusted and he may develop defensive behaviors.
Never, never, never punish your dog in front of your child. He will associate punishment with the child and develop negative emotions toward him or toward other children of similar appearance, sizes/ages.
Never, never, never scold or punish your dog for growling. Growling is a warning to tell you or your children (or another dog) that he is feeling uncomfortable about something so please stop what you are doing!
A dog that is punished or corrected for growling will learn to bite without giving any warning signals!
Allow your dog to have a "child-free" safety zone. This could be his crate or a specific corner of a room. Instruct your children that they are never to disturb their dog when he chooses to escape to that safety zone.
If your children love to run around the house screaming and flailing their arms, do not be surprised if your dog chases after them and nips their feet or clothing. Childish behaviors like this may cause a dog to go into prey-mode. Squealing kids who run around erratically can evoke hunting behaviors in many breeds. Do not lose sight of the fact that dogs are hunters. Terriers are bred to hunt and kill prey.
If you have a young child or children and are contemplating getting a dog, choose your breed carefully. Learn what job that breed was originally bred to do and you will know what behaviors will be typical for that dog. If your life is already hectic and a bit crazy because you are busy with your family, please think carefully about whether having a puppy or dog in your home is a good idea.
If you have a hectic schedule and do not have time to sufficiently exercise your dog, you will have a dog that will develop behavioral problems. Exercise is critically important to dogs. Most dogs are born with high energy levels.
If you are experiencing any serious problems with your dog, especially around your children, please contact a professional as soon as possible.