Keeping Children Safe Around Pets

Catherine Forman
April 27, 2006

Let's face it: some pets are better with young children than others are. Whether it is a pet you are familiar with, or a pet you are meeting for the first time, the best way to keep things under control is to keep yourself and your children calm.


Exhibit A: My male dog.

Miko was a cranky old man. He didn't like kids, and he didn't like puppies. Anything young was out. If a child or young animal approached him, he immediately started to rumble to warn them off.

Exhibit B: My female dog.

Lally loves everybody. Our first Christmas together, we spent with friends. Friends who had a young daughter who thought Lally was just great for hugging. My patient little girl dog let that kid hang all over her and didn't once show her teeth or growl or anything.

Whether it is a pet you are familiar with, or a pet you are meeting for the first time, the best way to keep things under control is to keep yourself and your children calm. Sudden movements and/or loud noises can be scary to the animal in question.

  1. If you know in advance that you will be meeting an unfamiliar pet, explain to your children that the animal doesn't like loud noises.
  2. Let the animal approach you, crouch down with your child and hold out your hands for the dog or cat to sniff.
  3. Show your young child the right way to pet a dog or cat gently, and in the direction the fur grows.
  4. A lot of animals do not like having their heads touched. Don't immediately try to put your hand on top of their head! Ask the owner (if the pet belongs to a friend) where the animal likes to be petted.
  5. Keep your voice soft and warm. Dogs like to be talked to! With cats, it depends.

The situation is a little different if you and your child encounter a dog or cat on the street. If the animal approaches you, let it sniff, but don't chase it down to try and pet it! Half of the dogs you may encounter on an afternoon walk may be so busy sniffing that they won't even notice (or care) that you're around.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 25, 2007

How can I tell if my American bull dog will get on well with my 7 month old son?

Amy from Craigshill Livingston


June 26, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Don't leave the baby alone with the dog. They might get along later on when the baby is past toddler stage. My vet says small children should never be left alone with pit bulls, rottweilers, german shepherds, chows, and a couple of other breeds I can't remember. Most of these breeds are great with kids later on, but not when they are tiny. I have always had german shepherds who were great kid pals always, but I kept them separated when the kids were babies.

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December 28, 2007

We have a Daschund that is almost 2 years old. He has shown aggressiveness toward our grandchildren, including biting. We are concerned to the point of seriously considering giving him up, though it is painful. Has anyone had success with behavior training for this specific issue or is this Daschund's personality trait incorrectable? Our grandchildrens' faces seem to be at risk.

Bob from Houston, TX


By Pet Helper (Guest Post)
December 28, 20070 found this helpful

First of all, are your grandchildren hurting or playing agressively with the dog? If so, that's why the dog is being aggressive. Can you keep the dog in a separate room when the grandkids are visiting? If not, most animal shelters have an animal behaviorist on staff that give free advice to help find solutions to problems like yours. They want to do everything possible to prevent pet owners from giving up their pets. Please look in your local yellow pages under "humane society" or "animal shelter" or go to

Please do not give up so easily on your dog, there may be an easy solution to this problem. Good luck & I pray you keep your dog.

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December 28, 20070 found this helpful

Life is full of choices. I personally would prefer not to have a biting dog. Think how you will feel if he bites one of their little faces. Not only would the child be scarred for life but you might possible alienate some family members.

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December 28, 20070 found this helpful

Go to and see if they have a trainer in your area. My photographer, who photographs kids regularly, had them work with her dog because of behavior issues around kids, and it worked wonders. I know it is a tough decision, when your children and grandchildren are involved, but behaviors can be corrected with a good trainer and some patience. Good luck!

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December 31, 20070 found this helpful

I am a dachshund owner..of many years... dacshies, in my experience and opinion, are good dogs around well behaved children. Dachsies aren't golden retrievers...
How old are your grandchildren? Old enough to be taught about respecting small dogs space? Plus, if they are only at your home occassionally, your dog is not used to interacting with children. Children can be unpredictible as far as small dogs are concerned, and perceived as threateneing. However, my first doxie was great with children because she was raised with them and around them constantly. She knew when to run & hide behind the living room sofa! I am thinking the dog might feel scared or threatened, that is why he/she is biting. Why are your grandchildens faces near the dog's face?
This may take a little work on your part and on the parents to teach the children about not cornering or scaring the small dog. Or you could do what I do when my grandchildren come to visit, I put my dacshsie in his kennel where he feels safe. Please don't give up your dog!!

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December 31, 20070 found this helpful

Small dogs don't belong on a bed with a child... small dogs can fall off the bed, and get injured that way.

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January 2, 20080 found this helpful

Is he neutered? That is the first thing to do. The second is find a trainer and take him to obedience training. If the grandkids are old enough you can have one of them go too. I would guess he is the alpha dog and runs the house. Don't let him on the furniture or sleep in your bed. He should stay in the floor. Make him sit and stay before getting food or going outside. Dachshunds are bad about wanting things their way and know how to get it. You have to teach him that he has to do things your way or he doesn't get the reward. Don't feed him table food when you eat and he begs. Your vet should be able to help you find a trainer if you don't know of one in your area.

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January 2, 20080 found this helpful

I had a dachshund that was the same way. He tried biting my hubby finally and we gave him away. Just thought I would let you know. Didn't want to take that chance with other members. He was also neutered, worst dog we ever had. Never had any problems like that we others.

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By bettyboop5382 (Guest Post)
January 3, 20080 found this helpful

I wholeheartedly agree with anonymous and pet helper. Dachshunds are wonderful, loyal, loving dogs, who like any dog needs training. Over the holidays I had friends visit who both had 12 year old boys. What a difference in these children and the way my dogs reacted and played with them. Don't give up on your dog; it may not be his fault and please, keep any child's face away from a dog!

3 Doxies Mom

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By Claudia-MD (Guest Post)
January 3, 20080 found this helpful

I have owned three dachshunds. The two I currently have are rescues. One has nipped two children- one reached through our fence to pet him (so he was protecting his turf.) The other was a 3-year old who was darting around the living room- rapid movements seem to stir him up. Rather than get rid of the dog (he is after all a full-fledged member of my family), I have avoided having small kids in my house- I have no grandchildren so this hasn't been too tough for me. I should eventually take him to a trainer, but have not gotten around to it in the 2 yrs I have had him.

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By U*u*U (Guest Post)
January 6, 20080 found this helpful

Training might mask some tendencies temporarily, but if this dog just doesn't like children, your grands are at risk. Why not just put the dog out, or isolate it in a closed room when the children visit?

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By Alphaboy1 (Guest Post)
September 13, 20080 found this helpful

My Daschund Lucky is 10 years old and on occasion would growl at my 10 year old daughter. She grew up with lucky but it appears Lucky treated her like the lower pack dog. Well yesterday she bite my daughter on the face and she had to get 5 stitches.
I would like to get give her away but my family wants to try and re-train her. We bought a mussel today which she will need to wear around her and other non-family. I will keep you posted.

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By (Guest Post)
October 6, 20080 found this helpful

Sounds like you may have a dominance problem. If your dog saw you as pack leader then you wouldn't have this problem. All you would have to do is tell them no and the dogs should listen.

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By Mollymoo (Guest Post)
October 12, 20080 found this helpful

I have a doxie, and she is no good around children either. At first we thought she was protecting her territory but when we put her down she runs up to them and chases them. I know its not all her fault because kids will be unpredictable. The best thing to do is to call in a trainer.

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By Tina K. (Guest Post)
November 1, 20080 found this helpful

Well I have a 2 year old Doxie and he is very good with children. He even allows the neighboring kids to touch and pamper him and with me around they even take him for a walk. It all depends on how we have trained it when it was a pup.

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January 5, 20090 found this helpful

My little Lucy wasn't around children very much so was never hurt by them but just simply did not like anybody small. Since I didn't have anyone around on a regular basis I just had to put her in her kennel when children did come. I know she needed to be taught but I couldn't risk somebody's face while I was trying to teach her. I couldn't give her up and children aren't frequent visitors so it worked for us.

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December 10, 2010

Our 2 year old YorkiePoo has gotten so when we get ready to put her to bed she starts growling and baring her teeth. Also she has snapped at our grandkids, sometimes breaking the skin. We have 1 grandson that teases her. We can't get him to stop. He thinks it's funny until he gets nipped. Help! We've put her in the laundry room to keep her away, but my stinking grandson lets her out!

By Dottie from soutnwest IN

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