Stop Your Dog From Playing Too Rough With Children

If you’ve ever seen your dog getting a little rough with your child then you know how scary it can be.  You may have felt scared and angry, or even yelled at your dog to stop, or punished him for his behavior.  Most of the time a dog doesn’t have any idea he was doing something wrong.

Most dogs are very playful animals.  They’re social animals and they learn to play and interact with the other dogs and people in their pack.  To a dog, a child looks more like another dog than you do, and they are closer in size to other dogs.  It’s little wonder that your dog wants to play with a child.  However, when dogs play with kids they can often get rough.  They can go too far by accident, or treat a child as though he’s really another dog.

Of course, there are lots of reasons why this kind of behavior isn’t good.  Your child can be scared or could be injured.  Or, even if your child isn’t scared or injured, another child might be, such as a neighbor’s child, or a child at a dog park.

If your dog runs into a dog park and starts playing with a child like he’s another dog, that child’s parents will be upset, but your dog may not have any idea what he did wrong.  Instead of letting your dog play with children in this way, you have to be able to stop this behavior right away.

Correcting Behaviors

You’ll need to correct your dog’s behaviors.  It’s not enough to tell your dog not to play roughly with children. Your dog won’t be able to understand this kind of command.  You will only confuse your dog and that will make him more dangerous than a dog that plays roughly.

Don’t try to set “conditions” for your dog’s behavior.  Instead, you need to stop certain behaviors completely.  You need to eliminate all of your dog’s rough behavior.  These rough behaviors include jumping, mouthing (when a dog wraps his mouth around your hand or arm), and chewing.

These are all behaviors that dogs do with each other, but they are not acceptable when dogs do them with children or with other humans.  The best way to stop your dog from engaging in these behaviors is to immediately stop playing with your dog whenever he shows one of these behaviors.  You shouldn’t punish your dog when he does these things, as that will confuse your dog, but you should immediately stop playing with him.

You need to draw a clear line in the sand about each one of these rough behaviors and why your dog should be calmer.  If you do this then it will be much easier to keep control of y our dog’s behavior.

Coping With Children

You also need to tell your children to stop playing roughly with your dog.  This isn’t always easy, especially if your kids like to wrestle or rough house with your dog.  However, it’s very important for you to set consistent boundaries for your dog.  Your children shouldn’t encourage your dog to play roughly when you are trying to teach your dog not to be rough.

You should also practice keeping a calm and assertive stance toward your dog when your children are near.  This kind of attitude will help eliminate chances for your dog to get worked up and overly playful.

When you and your dog are in open spaces, such as dog parks or in your yard, keep a close eye on your dog.  Teach your dog a command for them to immediately relax.  You can use a command such as “sit” or “stay” or even “come,” but the command needs to be completely understood so when you use it your dog responds.  This can stop possible problems before they get started.

Remember that when your dog plays roughly with children he’s not trying to hurt them. Your dog is just having fun.  Your dog is just trying to let your kids know how much fun he’s having.  The problem is that most kids have a different idea about what’s fun than your rowdy puppy.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if there’s any real aggression when your dog is playing roughly, that makes things completely different.  In that case you have to treat the situation more seriously.  You should never allow an aggressive dog near children.  If your dog is aggressive, and not just rambunctious and rowdy, then you should seek help from an expert before things get out of control.  Rough play is normal with many dogs and puppies.  Aggression is not normal and you will need the help of a professional.

Until next time……

About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of in Nashville, TN.  Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network, .

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