The answer is neither. Dogs and children must both be trained.


You know there’s a lot of well-documented statistics out there about dogs and children and specifically about dogs biting children. It’s a concern for all parents. Rather you admit it or not, you probably thought, “Do I trust my dog with my children?” Or, maybe it’s more like, “Do I trust my children with my dog?”

When you got your new dog you might not have taught your kids how to get along with the dog. You did focus on teaching the dog how to get along with the kids. Maybe you assumed it would not be an issue?

Children, Dogs - trust issue


Cover All Bases with Dogs and Kids

Reality is, you should cover all bases with BOTH your dog and your kids. It’s not fair to only train the dog and then leave your child with no understanding about how to properly interact with the dog. That one-way street is a path to failure. The relationship between your child and your dog has a lot to do with personal space issues.

Dogs are sensitive to personal space and kids have no respect for it.

Think about this:

  • Your dog should respect your child’s personal space. 
  • Your child should respect your dog’s personal space. 
  • When that happens it’s a great start to a good dog/child relationship.

What Are Dogs Thinking?

To paraphrase Jean Donaldson, “Dogs have always used aggression to settle their major and minor disputes. They don’t write letters, send emails or sue in a court of law. They just growl, snap or bite.” Dogs have a defense drive: Flight, fight/bite or freeze. It’s all about survival and keeping safe: Keeping perceived threats at a distance.

Yes, your child can be perceived as a threat by your dog.

Whether your dog growls, snaps or bites at your child can be determined by:

  1. How fast your child goes at your dog and
  2. What he does when he gets to your dog.

Let’s say your child runs up to your dog to hug his neck. Your dog is extremely sensitive to closeness and touch. This may cause your dog to snap or bite. Granted not all dogs are this sensitive but your dog might be. Your dog will appreciate your child more if you child has respect for your dog’s personal space. You need to train your child to understand and do this.

What are Children Thinking?

You child wants to interact with their dog like he would his brother or sister.
Your child uses his hands a lot to communicate.
Meaning, he likes to:

  • pat
  • touch,
  • rub,
  • squeeze,
  • hug and make direct eye contact with your dog. 

I’ll leave out the hitting, poking, and pulling ears and tails. Your dog is a visual communicator. How your child acts around your him will to a certain extent, determine how your dog will respond: Growl, Nip or Bite.

Some Dogs are Okay. Some Children are Okay

True, some dogs are okay with kids and have a high tolerance for this kind of close interaction with children. But, in cases where the tolerance is low to non-existent issues can escalate in an instant.

The Bottom Line

It is your responsibility to train your dog AND your child about respect of personal space.

As you think about this, you will have questions. Let me know below. Always happy to help


Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 11,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and shows you how to make it work with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.