Some dogs do not like children. Some are even afraid of them We adults know that children are harmless, but your dog may not be so sure. For a dog that has not been raised around children, they can seem loud and sporadic. A child’s wail can even trigger a fear or prey response for a dog. A child’s size, sounds, and movements may seem foreign or threatening to a dog.
To get to the bottom of this behavior, we have to think about what it is like to be a dog. Dogs communicate with their bodies and sounds because they cannot use words. They are probably used to the way the adults in their environment react and speak. If you consider that from your dog’s perspective, a child may not seem like a human at all.
Dogs depend on body language to assess their environment and the other beings in their world. A child can send out mixed signals for a dog, because this is not how humans tend to communicate.
During a dog’s growth and development phases, he learns how to be a dog and also how to interact with humans. If there are no children present during this time period, a dog may learn to fear them or perceive them as a threat. But don’t worry: you can teach your dog to feel more secure around kids. Try to make the child’s presence into a harbinger of good.
Ask your dog to sit and be calm and quiet in the presence of children and reward appropriate behavior. Be sure to use high value treats that she wants very much. Make sure that your priority is keeping everyone safe and never punish your dog for acting on her instincts.
It is our responsibility as dog guardians to familiarize ourselves with a dog’s cues. Adult humans need to learn how to interpret dog body language, so they can assess the situation and not only be the child’s advocate, but also the dog’s advocate.
As with all things dog, your veterinarian is your first and best resource about your dog. If your dog is afraid of children, you may need additional help from a veterinary behaviorist.