Dog & Toddler

Updated on July 26, 2012
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
10 answers

Mamas & Papas -

My parents, who care for DS 2 days a week have a lovely 8 year old 80lb lab mix mutt, who is as sweet as can be, and very very patient. DS, 21 months old, has taken to grabbing her tail, hugging her hind quarters, and grapping her tongue and muzzle. More recently, he's been stomping her paws and tail.

The dog, who I am convinced is a saint, gets up and walks away. I fear that one day DS is going to get his due in the form of a growl, a snap or a bite.

What I am doing now doesn't seem to be working.
1. I monitor closely and make sure that he doesn't stomp.
2. I remove him if he looks like he is going to stomp.
3. I encourage him to touch gently.

The trouble is, all this is a form of attention and interaction, and seems to be enforcing the bad behavior.
The dog, inadvertently too, encourages more stomping, as she gets up and walks away, making her very desireable tail swish around some more.
If I ignore the behavior altogether, isn't that tacit consent?

What do your recommend?

Thanks in advance,
F. B.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Are you giving a very sharp "NO! That HURTS doggie" too? If not, I'd also combine that with a short "time out."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

Along with redirection and things that others suggest, I would recommend specifically teaching your son how to play with the dog. Teach him how to throw a ball for the dog to go after, or how to command the dog (sit, down, etc.) for treats, or how to play tug with the dog. Have him help feed/water the dog. Clearly he is interested and wants to interact with the dog but he simply doesn't know how!!! Take the teach him the appropriate way to do things. That way, when he wants to play with the dog, he will know what to do rather than the inappropriate behavior that could get him in trouble - not with this dog, but if this dog allows it and he does these same things to another dog, he could experience a completely different consequence and THAT is something you DO NOT want!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Megan P. - teach him the right way to interact with the dog. AFter you're done with a "lesson" on dog treatment, if he looks like he's going to stomp, I would separate the two. The poor dog is a saint and probably would never do anything more than growl at your DS, but DS will eventually come into contact with a dog he's not so familiar with and there may be a very different result. Teaching him how to properly interact with this dog will serve him well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Our DD has grown up with cats, and patient though they be, sometimes they do get upset with her and she gets a very minor warning. It's like they know that they can't claw anybody, even little people. From the very start, we taught DD to pet nicely, no biting (seriously, she tried to eat our cat), and not to pull ears, tails, etc.

If he looks like he's going to stomp, tell him firmly "No stomping. That hurts." And if he does stop or ignores you, time out, immediately. Don't give him a lot of attention for it. Make it a not fun thing with little interaction from you.

Take him away from the dog so he loses his playmate if he isn't nice. Be consistent.

When he's being good, praise him. "That's right. Pet nicely." You might even stroke his arm and show him how petting nicely feels better. If he stubs his toe or whatever, say, "That's how it feels when you stomp on the dog. That doesn't feel good, does it?" to try to get him to understand.

Keep at it. Give the dog a place to go without being followed, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We have a picture book called "Be Gentle With the Dog, Dear" which helped I think. Luckily my son was always pretty good with our dog but there was a time frame when he was rougher than our little 8 lb dog could handle and the book really helped to get our point across. Also everything the others said too :)



answers from Huntsville on

If you catch your son doing something wrong with the dog, take your son away from the dog. Separate them for however long you feel necessary. Tell him we don't do that to the dog, and move him somewhere way from the dog, or even out of sight. This way he doesn't get to immediately play with the dog again. It will take some time tho. My daughter was brought home from the hospital to a house full of dogs. She is now 6 1/2 years old and STILL will do things to the dogs that she shouldn't! :/ She's never gotten a real bite from any of the dogs. Just growls & nips. She cries and does it again another day :/ lol



answers from Bloomington on

If you think your son likes the continuous attention he receives from your correction, pull him away without saying a word. You may want to correct him verbally once but after that, nothing. This has actually worked with my 2.5 year old. I was always correcting him & eventually separate him & dog, because verbal correction & redirection wasn't working. Then, the dog & him , would just whine to be reunited , again. I also think time out is a good suggestion . That was going to be my next step, with my son but the silent redirection has worked.


answers from Boise on

It's the age your little one is at. Keep doing what you are doing and in time your little one will move onto something else.

My dog is currently in a friends house. She went into heat and my males were fighting. They have a little one about your little ones age. Their son is loving playing with her. They have a dog but the dog has been snappy and growling. So my dog is so much fun for their little one. One day she was tired of being pulled on so she sat on him, it was funny. Of course the little one thought that was funny so it's now a game. I KNOW my dog will not hurt their little one. I have 8 kids and she is used to rough play, but I do teach my children pet manners, and it just takes some time.



answers from New York on

We used the book "Tails Are Not for Pulling" when our toddler was too rough with our cat.



answers from Tulsa on

When my toddler starts to chase, "pat" aka slap, grab, or lay on our dog (he's a weenie dog, only about 10 lbs) then the dog and baby get separated. The dog is usually running for the gate to be opened so he can escape into the other room anyways, but even if he doesn't go on his own we move him. At this age they can't really understand that their playing and petting can hurt the dog, so no amount of "be gentle with dog" really hits home. Our dog has never snapped or growled, but I still don't trust them to be alone together. It just takes one snap to really hurt a child.

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