How To Socialize Your Dog With Young Children

Jul 23, 2021

If you don’t have kids of your own but plan on having children, are expecting or adopting, or want your dog to be comfortable with young children, socialization with that age group is important. ⁠

What does it mean?⁠

It means repeated positive experiences. You want your dog to have positive associations with young children. ⁠

How to create positive associations? ⁠

If your dog has shown aggression, fear, or discomfort around children, I recommend working with a certified dog trainer. ⁠

If you have a young puppy or your dog is neutral and relaxed around young children, here are a few examples.⁠

>>> Unknown Children

Your dog sees young children from a safe distance and gets a treat or plays with a toy. Your dog learns young children to predict treats and play! Rinse and repeat!⁠

>>> Known Children

Ideally meet in a neutral space, making sure the child gives your dog plenty of space and choice.⁠

Your dog is given a choice to approach a child, approaches in a happy and relaxed manager, loose wiggly body language. ⁠

️⁠The interactions are brief.⁠

If your dog chooses not to approach, ducks away, or backs up, there is no greeting. ⁠

️⁠Initially, no treats should be involved; give your dog treats after the greeting, at a safe distance. ⁠

If your dog has willingly approached a child several times, shows relaxed body language, a child may offer a treat. No treats if a dog is protective of food or takes treats using teeth.⁠

Avoid having a child's face near the dog's face, don't let a child lean or loom over a dog.⁠

If your dog likes to play FETCH, has a solid drop cue and is not jumpy or protective of toys, an adult-supervised game of fetch with a preschooler or a kindergartner would be a positive experience for a dog that is comfortable around young children. ⁠

SOCIALIZE SMART. GO SLOWLY. LISTEN TO YOUR DOG.⁠

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