How to prevent my dog ​​from barking at children and attacking them


Statistics show that a very high percentage of the attacks of dogs are towards children, approximately we speak of 80% of the total of the cases. It is not a casual figure, there is a reason for that.

In this article of Animal Expert we will talk about the main causes of aggression of dogs towards children, how we can avoid these situations and other details that we must take into account, read on and discover why dogs attack children:

Communication errors

As a general rule, adults should always monitor the interaction between children and dogs, otherwise there is a high probability that bad communication will end with a bite, which can be very serious depending on the size of the dog.

There is a tendency to trust a dog that has never shown signs of aggression before, however, dogs they speak in a specific body language that even adults may not know how to interpret, what happens then with children?

They are still experiencing cognitive skills (such as perception, attention or memory), which will not fully develop until approximately six years, which makes them especially vulnerable to misunderstanding.

Before an attack, the dog sends us a series of previous signals such as signs of calm, show teeth or growl. All this indicates that the dog feels uncomfortable, enough to attack. These physical cues are obvious to us, but not to children, which they think it is a game.

Negative behaviors of children towards dogs:

  • Stare
  • Pounce on the dog
  • Pull the tail
  • Pull the ears
  • Bother
  • Not let rest
  • Shout at him
  • Embrace it effusively
  • Stick your fingers in your cav>

Unpleasant experiences

Children they are usually very invasive, something that not all dogs are able to understand and respect. For them it is "little beings" that scream and can even hurt. That is when a negative association begins to occur.

If in addition to the child acts invasively we we scold the dog for growling, (remember that he tries to communicate his discomfort) we are causing learning by association, also known as classical conditioning. The dog starts to relate the child as something unpleasant and even as something bad, increasing your stress levels and even making you try to run away, and in case that is not possible, bite.

How to avoid a dog's attack on a child?

To prevent the aforementioned situations it will be essential always be present in the same room when the child and the dog are together. It doesn't matter if we have full confidence in our 10-year-old dog, sometimes a finger in the eye, age problems (such as osteoarthritis) or a moment of hyperexcitation can cause an unexpected response. Let's avoid something happening by monitoring the interactions.

From a certain age, we can begin to explain to a child that dogs can bite and do a lot of damage, we will teach them to identify the positions of appeasement like turning away, turning your head, licking and turning your entire body. Educating our little one will make the coexistence very positive. We will also teach them to respect their toys, food or the sofa, resources that can be protected at some time by the dog.

What to do if a dog growls or bites a child?

Aggressiveness is a very serious behavior problem, especially if it is focused on children, in which case it becomes a problem against public health. We must totally avoid contact between dog and child and the immediate solution will be to find a provisional home for the dog until we can go to a specialist.

Keeping a dog at home that growls or attacks children can lead to severe aggression, so it is never recommended to do any type of therapy or treatment on our own, without specialist supervision.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do dogs attack children more?, we recommend that you enter our Curiosities section of the animal world.

My dog ​​doesn't like children

This expression is not entirely correct. Dogs do not develop because children reject behavior as it is not true that there are violent breeds by genetics. Nor are they jealous as a brother can get to have another. They are not capricious. A hairy man is docile, good and affectionate by nature, he will only end up hating children if he is educated as such.

It is a process of action and reaction or, rather, the consequences of learning a behavior. It is as with Paulov's dog, who has learned to react in a concrete way to a stimulus. There is so much fear that a dog can bite a child, that many PetLovers overreact when approached.

If you shout at your dog, hit him, take him away or punish him in the presence of a little boy, what he will do is relate his presence to violence, and he will end up reacting badly. That is, so that the relationship between your son and your dog is good, it cannot be forged by building a wall of blows and bellows between them, because you will be giving him the wrong lesson.

My dog ​​growls at the children

If you have adopted a dog, and his previous caregiver abandoned him because he ignored him after his son was born, the furry may also have contracted anxiety and stress. He will have often gone to his former friend's side, but he will only have achieved rejection and repulsion until he has been removed from his side.

This happens more often than it seems, so you may have this behavior before you start living with you. That is why we recommend that if you have children at home, ask those responsible for the protector in which you are going to adopt how is it with the little ones. The opposite can also be the case: be afraid of them for the same reason, because each hairy responds in a different way.

What to do if your dog attacks your child and barks at him?

If your dog attacks or wants to mark your child, there is nothing you can do at home, you need the help of a professional ethologist. In case this is your situation, get in touch with our experts in canine behavior and we will recommend you to a good professional in your city, but do not wait too long or that this attitude will heal itself.

In case he doesn't bite them, just barks or buffets, what you have to try to do is not be so hard on him when there are children nearby. Cannot interpret the presence of children means violence, because then he will react the same. On many occasions, an aggressive reaction is caused by pure stress and anxiety. A nervous hairy can even hurt himself, not sleep, stop eating and behave with barking, snorting and grunting. If you are the one who is neglecting your love and you are dedicating it to another sector of your life, it will also bark at children.

But even in this case, even if he only warns of his anger without taking any reprisals, for your safety, his and the children around you, don't settle for following any tricks you read on the internet, trying to smile again, to do more sports or to play more with him. This is the time to go to professionals to be re-educated.

If you have any questions about this issue, count on us, but take these attacks as a disease that can only be cured with specialists in quelling this aggressiveness against children.

Have you been left with doubts? Ask our veterinarians:


Fear may be a normal adaptive response essential for survival, but when it manifests itself excessively and repetitively in certain situations, it is a behavioral problem. Fear can manifest itself with signs of aggressiveness towards other animals or towards people. The aggressiveness out of fear It is the second most common type of canine aggression.

The dogs with this aggressiveness they usually cause significant bites in those situations in which a stimulus perceived as harmful appears. However, these dogs They don't always bite, but they can growl or bark aggressively. Circumstances as the approach of others dogs, people or children, both in open areas and in specific places, or certain types of noise can cause this type of aggressiveness. Patients in veterinary clinics have a certain predisposition to be aggressive when they are manipulated during clinical practice because of fear and anxiety, but according to Reisner (2006), most of the dogs Those who go to animal behavior clinics tend to be more motivated to bite for the same reasons.

The owners of dogs With fear they frequently try to correct or prevent aggressive behavior through the use of punishment, unfortunately this will only serve to reinforce the problem and aggravate it. Thus, puppies that have been physically punished have a tendency to develop aggressiveness out of fear. On the other hand, some dogs What are they aggressive for fear They are naturally anxious and fearful and have not necessarily had to have bad experiences. A dog With an easily excitable temper you can react badly to an intrusion and get worse if you feel cornered, with little chance of escape. It is very likely that it will bite, especially if during the last encounters the fact of biting has caused the stimulus to disappear (Landsberg et al., 2003). These animals do not necessarily have to be cornered to be aggressive, just getting close can be enough to intensify their aggressive response.

The aggressiveness out of fear It can also develop in families with young children, due to the great activity of these children, due to their unexpected movements and particular tone of voice, which will always be a potential danger. Likewise, the dogs Old people who suffer from health problems (arthritis, chronic otitis.) can be especially dangerous when trying to avoid contact with them.

During treatment, it is important to avoid any situation that causes fear in these animals, and should advise owners to act with due caution, since dogs What are they aggressive for fear They are especially dangerous with those people and animals in whose presence they exhibit this response. The effective resolution of these cases requires an early identification and avoidance of all the stimuli and situations that cause fear and an appropriate medical intervention aimed at reducing the associated anxiety.

Clinical case

Go to the Nerón consultation, a dog 2-year-old French Bulldog breed, without castration and 14 kg. of weight. The patient lives with three adults and an eight month old baby. It was purchased at a pet store when I was 10 weeks old. He showed a nervous character from 5 months of age.

The family lives in a 70 m² apartment in the metropolitan area. Every day he stays home alone for 6 hours and has access to the whole house. It does not have a great activity, since it goes for a walk 3 times a day for a total time of approximately one hour. He does not have toys because he destroys them and becomes very excited when he has them. Eat once a day, in the evenings, a high-end feed mixed with 5% homemade food. If you have food left over, you have it available throughout the day until it is finished.

He received professional training so he knows certain basic orders well as sitting, still and not throwing. Nero is affectionate, nervous, active, playful, moderately obedient and is very excited about noise.

The main reason for the visit to the Animal Behavior Clinic is the aggressiveness it manifests towards children, especially with the baby at home. When it cries or emits some sound the dog He tends to be very nervous, to which he responds with grunts, restlessness and vocalization. This aggressive behavior often appears when the owner or other adults address the baby at home or any other child away from home. He also responds aggressively to any attempt at contact by other children. In addition, it responds aggressively when it comes into contact with others. dogs during the walks, so they avoid being approached.

Physical exploration

The physical examination was performed by the referring veterinarian. Blood and urine tests were performed. The physical examination and the results of the laboratory tests yielded normal values ​​because any alteration of an organic nature was ruled out.

In our clinic, a complementary neurological study was performed and thyroid function tests (T4 and TSH) were requested, in order to rule out other organic causes that could be related to the observed clinical signs. We also conduct a careful study of the responses related to situations of fear and anxiety in the patient.

Diagnosis and prognosis

We use the data contain> Cessives in these situations. Therefore, a problem of aggressiveness out of fear to children and others dogs, with reserved forecast. Consideration of the prognosis was made taking into account that the target of the responses were children and mainly the 8-month-old baby, so it was tried to make the owners understand that they should always keep the baby out of reach of Nero, as it was an important risk.


The treatment is focused on allowing the dog expose yourself to the situation that causes fear without manifesting related aggressive responses. It consisted of the implementation of behavior modification techniques, intervention on the environment and treatment with psychotropics.

Behavior and environment modification

First, a basic education program is proposed, in order to increase the control of dog on the part of the owner, get the animal's respect and lower Nerón's state of anxiety. The duration of this part of the treatment was 8 weeks.

The basic program consisted of:

  • The owners had to ignore any behavior that on the initiative of Nero occurred, to avoid providing involuntary reward every time the undesirable behavior appeared.
  • Provide meals three times a day.
  • Increase the time spent on walks.
  • Inclusion of games with toys and interactive with the owner.

Likewise, the use of the muzzle was recommended to guarantee the integrity of the baby inside the house and to avoid the intervention of adults in the face of grunts or other manifestations of aggressiveness towards children and dogs that would entail a reinforcement of those behaviors. For this it was necessary to teach Nero to tolerate the muzzle through a basic technique. He was also instructed to carry out a relaxation protocol to teach the dog to relax before the situation triggers aggressive behavior.

Secondly and once verified that the owners had good control over their dog, began with the behavior modification therapy of desensitization and counterconditioning against children and dogs. The technique consisted of the gradual exposure of the patient to the presence of children and dogs, with muzzle and controlling the distance and exposure time, to increase the time and reduce the distance as Nero was better tolerating these disturbing stimuli.

Case Evolution

In the case of behavioral problems, monitoring is essential to analyze the evolution of the case. The medical discharge is established according to the improvement, which was evaluated by comparing the state of anxiety that the dog presented at each moment in relation to the initial state before starting the therapy. To determine the progress achieved with the treatment, the dog's behavior was analyzed through the information provided by the owner.

Within fourteen days of having started therapy (1st follow-up), the owner informed that Nerón was more tolerant of crying and the presence of the baby, however they still had no control over him, because he obeyed little and in the walks he was seen nervous. It is recommended to continue with the treatment as prescribed.

Two weeks later (2nd follow-up), Nerón remains equally nervous, neither improves nor worsens, however, does not show aggressiveness towards children in general, so their owners are very motivated with therapy since their main problem seems controlled . Alprazolam should be withdrawn after four weeks of treatment so as not to have the risk of addiction and because it is no longer necessary and its anxiolytic effect, which deals with fluoxetine. Therefore, it was decided to withdrawTrankimazin® gradually for 12 days so as not to overload the drug therapy.

At eight weeks of treatment, (3rd follow-up), the owners are beginning to have more control over Nero, who is less anxious in general. They also stated that they had complied exactly with the protocol indications. It is decided to start with behavior modification therapy by applying the desensitization technique.

In week 16 of the therapy, (4th follow-up), the whole family is quite happy with the dog's behavior, they say that he has not been aggressive again and that he behaves very well at home and during walks, so he decides to withdraw fluoxetine gradually for 12 days of dose reduction.

A month after having withdrawn the medication, (5th follow-up), the owner reports that Nerón has not returned to show aggressiveness, however, occasionally she is nervous. Given this situation, it is decided to continue for life with the indications leading to reinforce the role of leader of the owners, acting on meals, games, walks and other recommendations focused on enriching the physical and social environment of Nerón.

Article written by Miguel Ibáñez Talegón Y Slim Anzola Bernadette, of the Animal Behavior Clinic of the Complutense University of Madrid.

Latest Comments on this article (4)

By carolina2203 on 11/26/2012 at 05: 17h

I have 2 frensh dogs at home and I adopted her at 2 months of age, I have been rescued for 4 years
From the street, in the middle of the year, adopt the other one year old who also rescues the street.
They got along very well and occasionally fought.
The second one of pretty name sick 2 months ago and they operated on her, so I had her separated from princess (the first to adopt)
The vet already released her and now I don't know how to put them together because they growl as if they were unknown, the tension between them is felt.
Any advice so that they are together again and can live together?

By nazareth on 05/11/2012 at 20: 31h

If the article is very good, but it is not very clear to me how to modify the behavior, my dog ​​Alfredo Snhauser does not allow him to cut his hair bites and although he has a muzzle kick and since he has a Pin on one of his legs I am afraid that he will get hurt That’s why he’s horrible, I can only cut his face’s hair.

By adimalaga on 03/01/2012 at 19: 44h

Thanks for the article, it is very complete and the orientation is good. In fact at home we have a dog with this problem and it is a constant job.

By silviawolfrodo0. on 03/01/2012 at 19: 38h

Hi, I need help because my dog ​​is mastiff and I live in a 130m square floor and he is afraid of the elevator. He throws himself back and starts pulling back and his pupils dilate.

Answer wiki

First, don't interpret why it has been. Not even the greatest expert in the world can tell you exactly why your dog bit your son, unless he makes a very rigorous study of that particular case, and probably has nothing to do with something as abstract as jealousy.

Humans have the habit of attributing qualities or abilities that other animals do not have. It's not that dogs are dumb, it's just that they have a way of being much simpler than ours. I think it is obvious to many.

About what you should do, first, don't be alarmed. Second, you should observe what your son does with the dog, and try to find out with him what happened at the time of the attack (and if that really was an attack or did you misunderstand him) Was the dog excited? Is it a male? Are you castrated? In any case, if you would like help, I would recommend consulting with a canine educator to help you deal with the issue carefully.

If you are looking for a quick solution, a temporary patch: Something basic that I would recommend, would be for your child to feed the dog. This would improve the relationship they have. And that you are always close when the two are together. Do not systematically separate them.

If you are going to ask questions about training and want your dog, watch with the trainers who talk about hierarchies. It is possible that you end up mistreating the dog for a misunderstanding and that this end up catching your son would really throw or attacking you for any punishment you do. Especially with aggressive issues, you have to watch a lot. The answer is to find a canine educator, not a trainer.

For more information on the topic of positive education I leave here an article I wrote recently: Do not punish your dog - Animals - Medium