Dogs Barking at Crying Chidren or Being Aggressive (For Lack of a Better Word)

Updated on November 15, 2009
C.S. asks from Petaluma, CA
22 answers

I have a Lhasa Apso who does not like children. I have never seen him around an infant but he does not like small children. When he hears babies crying or talking on TV he starts to bark.
Does anyone have any experience with this type of situration and what have you done to acclimate your dog to your baby?
Might I add that he has nipped (not bitten) at my niece and nephew who are 7 and 9 and has also nipped the postman. He only nipped when they were trying to walk away. Otherwise he just barks and stays away from them.

After the overwhelming negative response to this quesiton, I thought I would add a few details. The dog is 7 yrs old and was not raised by us as a puppy and is not treated like the alpha dog in our house. He has never drawn blood to either my niece, nephew or the postman and he has only tried to nip at each of them one time in a span of 5+ years. He has been around my niece and nephew reguarly since we got him. He has never been around a very small child so none of us know how he will react. He is a very loving and sweet dog when he is comfortable around people. He is the lioness dog so yes, he is very protective but who is to say that he won't be just as protective to a newborn as he is to the rest of his family. Shouldn't he be given a chance?

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answers from Sacramento on

Sorry C., I would never risk having a dog with this kind of history around a newborn or any other child. You said that he is very sweet when he is comfortable with people, but children are fast moving and unpredictable and it's just my opinion that given the age and temperament of this dog, that it would never ben comfortable enough around a small child to be trusted not to bite.

Good luck with you decision~

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answers from San Francisco on

Hello C., Being the mother of 5 children and a grandmother, and a animal lover. I have strong feelings about this.
If an animal is going to bite the mailman and hasn't been turned in to the animal control I am very surprised. I know that my uncle had a dog that bit my son yet the dog seemed alright around other children. Because my son was young and with disabilities he took the dog to the pound that day.
I will be honest and admit that after taking some teasing from a child our dog snapped at her. I crated him until I was sure that we had the problem safe and didn't have it ever happen again.
You must be 100% on your guard with a animal with your history. You do have a dog with a bad history because of 3 biteings to his name. If your animal hurts someone or another animal you will most likely be sued by the people and fined by animal control. Make a good decision, Nana G

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,
I think you are facing some difficult choices. It doesn't sound to me like your dog is compatible with children, particularly as he nipped/bit when the children were walking away. In fact, you may someday face more serious charges from animal control if your dog behaves that way with other children in the neighborhood.
My daughter, almost 3, was recently bit in the face by a small "safe" dog. The 7 stitches she got in her lip and the resulting trauma have been really hard for us all to deal with. She's now scared of the doctor, scared of needles, scared of dogs, and even scared to have her teeth brushed. This is a preventable accident if you take the situation seriously enough. I now consider dogs to be as big a danger to my child as an open swimming pool. You can never take these situations for granted.
Even if your dog understands the pecking order among adults (i.e. doesn't consider himself the alpha with you and your husband) the rules are different with children. Dogs will dominate when they can and children are then in danger of being "put in their place."
Sorry if my tone is grim. I honestly hope you make the right choice for your child.

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answers from Redding on

If you have an animal that doesn't like children, that's perfectly great.
As long as there are never any children around. Unless, of course, they still nip at other people, like the mail man.
I would try getting some intense behavioral training for the dog and if that doesn't have only one option. Find the dog a home with someone else.
If your dog is that stressed out by children and other people, it's not a happy situation for the dog. And if the kids have to live in fear of it....they will learn to grow up with a fear and hatred of dogs.
I do not like dogs. Period. I was bitten as a child and my sister had her throat torn up by one. I know that there are good family dogs, seeing eye dogs, dogs that visit old people in nursing homes. I pray all the time that I will never need a dog to save me because I don't want one anywhere near me. An office I worked at had little dogs and they attacked clients, the UPS man....
Try behavioral training and if that doesn't work, you have a difficult choice. But you'll have to make it. You can't expect the dog or the kids to be happy and co-exist otherwise. That's my opinion.

Best wishes.

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answers from Boise on

C., why on earth would you chance it.

Im going to take the Dr. laura stance here and say, I am amazed at how people will ask for advice and then make excuses of why they shouldn't take the intelligent advice they have been given.

Your dog has proven he is unstable. Nipping as someone walks away is even more scary to me. The dog isn't biting out of fear, but out of neurosis. Your dog has a nerotic problem. It will not magically change. "agressive for lack of a better word"...Um, yeah, biting is agressive. You nailed it on the head. No need to look for a softer word for it.

You need to put your offspring's safety in front of the comfort of keeping your animal.

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answers from San Francisco on

Find someone with a newborn and record their fussiest cries... maybe even the nursery at the local hospital can help with this or find a soundclip on the internet. A sound byte of a colicky baby crying hysterically for an hour would work well too as no one is assured of a kitten-cry infant. After a stretch of sessions replaying that for your dog the progress will be obvious in one direction or the other. Your next step will be to find folks willing to offer their children up as test subjects to see true interaction... good luck with that. Just as some rescue pets are specifically labelled "not good with other pets" you need to face the fact that your dog may not be a suitable housmate for an infant/child/stranger. Even if your dog becomes enamored and protective of your baby how confident will you feel when inviting folks over for playdates? Are you willing to have your dog piss all over your bedroom (literally) while barking hysterically whenever you have visitors... how about retaliate around the rest of the house and at housemates after they've gone? I'm lucky my skittish cat just spends time sniffing every spot a person was after they've left (she hides when visitors are here). When she does brave checking out visitors she's got a 3 pet maximum. We always caution against petting her because the 3rd pet mostly results in her hasty retreat behind the couch - but sometimes results in her turning to nip at hands (no blood draws thankfully).

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answers from San Francisco on

You didn't say how old the dog is - I believe that will make a difference on whether you can change this behavior. Given the fact that he's already nipped at your neice and nephew and bit the postman, I would get professional training for him. Some dogs don't like kids because they are noisy and overly active which makes a dog nervous. Give his history, I would say either get rid of the dog or make sure to keep him away from your children until you can have him professional evaluated by a specialist to see if this behavior can be modified. If not, you should seriously consider getting rid of the dog.



answers from San Francisco on


This is a potentially dangerous situation, and you should take it very seriously. Do have your dog evaluated by a good trainer, and if they feel that your dog is trainable, follow through with it completely. If they feel the dog will be a threat to your child, you should be able to find the dog a loving, childless home. You will be doing the dog a favor by either teaching it to behave appropriately, or making sure that it's removed from a situation in which it will be continuously stressed.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi C., My heart goes out to you. This is a very difficult situation but needs to be dealt with ASAP. Many people would suggest either putting the dog down or finding a new home for the dog. Small children cannot protect themselves against an agressive dog, no matter how small the dog is so it is your responsibility to do it for them. I would highly recommend consulting a dog trainer specialized in dog aggression. They could assess your dog and see if a solution can be found. It may cost a bit, but if you are committed to keeping your dog, it will pay off in the future. Keep in mind that there is a lot of work that will need to be done and with an agressive dog, you can never let your guard down. It's always better to side with caution than be sorry later. Best of luck to you! K



answers from San Francisco on

Of course he should be given a chance. He may turn out to be very protective of your baby. I've seen it happen.

I just skimmed the other answers and I'm pretty surprised. We don't currently have a dog, but we've had one most of our lives, and our kids' lives. If this dog is going to be aggressive toward the baby, I think it will be apparent pretty quickly. Try to find some arrangements, in case this happens. However, wait and see! It's unlikely you're going to walk in the door with the baby and the dog is going to lunge at the baby and tear its throat out. And if you're like me, the baby will be with you all all times until you know what the dog's reaction is.

I vote for giving the dog a chance.


answers from Stockton on

My personal opinion, if you are going to hav children you need to get rid of your dog. If your niece and nephew are coming over, lock the dog in the bedroom. I don't know why people think it is ok for a dog to bite because it is a "small dog" - my kids have been bitten by a small dog, and I don't think that it is ok. You are responsible for your dog, and if your dog is biting people (especially when they are walking away, if they are walking away they are not threatening your dog in any way) you have a problem with your dog. If it was a pit bull would you be asking the same question? I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but it really hits home for me. It is not ok for ANY dog to bite people, especially kids!



answers from San Francisco on I know is dogs like that don't change. So you always have to protect them and the children. We had a dog when our first was born that we could never trust .so we had to make a special fenced area for him to be if the children played outside just to be safe.We never let our guard down and never let him out when other people or children were over. I loved him but it was a huge relief when he died and I swore I'd never have a dog like that again with children or with out. Yes he bit both my kids at least once. No injury done but made them cry. Some people find a new home for the dog. That is a good option . Best of luck and congradulations on your baby.



answers from Sacramento on

Here is a link to a comprehensive, no nonsense site that I found invaluable as far as dogs and babies:

It's a lot to read but the q&a section helps illustrate what you may be up against.

I would absolutely find a professional trainer who has experience working with dogs who have nipped at children and listen to what they say and do what they say. Even if it means getting rid of the dog.

Good luck (re)training your Lhasa. I hope that you can make it work and have a safe and happy place for your baby! My girl ADORES her Grandparents' Shih Tsu!




answers from Sacramento on

I agree with Krysia. I would get a dog trainer to evaluate your dog. It sounds like it is fearful and just needs some behavioral tweaking. It is costly but it will be worth it to keep your dog.


answers from Fresno on

Hi C.,
This is hard because your dog is like a member of the family. We had a similar situation with our boxers before our kids were born. The bigger one LOVED kids, however he showed it by knocking them down and licking their faces, which understandably terrified the children and their parents! We solved that issue by taking him to training (lots and lots and lots of training, fortunately it was not too expensive because we went through the SPCA for it). However our smaller boxer HATED kids, small dogs, anything little that moved erratically. We took her to dog classes but it didn't help - the trainer told us she had likely been traumatized when she was a puppy, and would probably never get over it (she was 4 years old when we got her).

When it came right down to it, I just wasn't comfortable having a dog like that in my home! I couldn't guarantee that she wouldn't get out of our yard, even though we had a sturdy 6 foot fence, and the thought of what could happen if she did get out and saw a child outside... well, that was enough for me to find a new home for her. Fortunately, my husband's ex-wife took both dogs in (we didn't want to separate the dogs), and she lived out in the country and didn't have kids, so it was perfect! It was hard letting our dogs go but I just couldn't bear the thought of compromising any child's safety for my own selfish need to have a dog.

I hope that your dog will respond to training, but be aware that he might not. If he doesn't, I think the best thing to do would be to find him a home that doesn't have children. Even little dogs can really hurt kids, and once a child ends up hurt, you're liable and the dog will likely be put down by animal enforcement. That's a losing situation for everybody, so it's best to make sure that doesn't happen!



answers from Seattle on

Every dog needs training. Even small ones. I have seen so many people who treat their small dogs like a baby their whole life and they wonder why the dark barks and nips. A small dog like any dog outgrows puppyhood and needs to realize that they are NOT the alpha dog in the family.

The only way to do this is with proper training. If you aren't ready to give up on your dog, you need to keep your baby safe and start some obedience training right away.

If your dog will not respond to training. You have a HARD decision to make. Most dog rescue associations will NOT place a dog regardless of it's size with a new family if it has aggression or 'nipping' problems.

I am not saying we shouldn't treat our dogs like family - but a dog is not a person, it is a pack animal and you need to be the alpha in your dogs pack and your dog needs to know it's place is below each child who enters your home.



answers from Sacramento on

It sounds like your dog will either need training and/or need to be given to a good home. I'd try training first and see whether your dog's actions change. After all, you need to protect your niece and nephew and other children that he is around. He should not be nipping.



answers from Modesto on

It is wonderful that you know this about your beloved friend you can make sure your neice and nephew, or any other small child, don't get hurt....




answers from Spartanburg on

I have 3 rat terrier/jack russell dogs. They always bark at small children. But never acted particularly aggressive like they would bite. Just bark, a lot.
Before bringing home our daughter my husband took a blanket she was wrapped in home and let the dogs smell it. He also hung the blanket on the nursery door.
When we brought her home they were interested but not going crazy. I held her (while standing) and let the dogs look at her and check her out. I also let them check out her carseat and other gear.
They have never barked at her, or showed any signs of aggression toward her. They are actually quite protective of her now. Our alpha male onetime got between her and a toy he didn't quite understand (the toy rolls around and plays music), like he was protecting her. Very cute. I had to get on the floor with them and show them it was ok.



answers from Sacramento on

Dogs, like any animal, can be unpredictable. When you don't understand their behavior, you have no idea when or why something will set them off.

Children can also be unpredictable. For example, you tell the child over and over not to go near the dog's food. She says she understands but one day, she just wants to see what night happend (she is a child!) and goes to the food anyway. The dog bites. Too late. You gave the dog a chance and now you are stuck with the consequences which aren't good.

I would talk to your vet and find a very good dog trainer who really knows about dog behaviors ASAP. Certain breeds are just not meant to be around children and you might not be able to train that behavior out of him. You may not think your dog is treated like the alpha but unless you fully understand dog behavior, you really don't know what message you are sending to him. :)

Aggressive dogs often get that way because they are anxious. There are actually supplements you can give them to calm them and ways to train them to make them less anxious. Check it out, please.



answers from Chico on

We had/have a similar problem with our 10-pound terrier mutt, and have been working pretty intensively with a dog trainer/behaviorist for the last 6 months or so. We have made significant progress, though are actually starting with a new dog trainer tomorrow, as we thought we all might benefit from a new perspective. I highly recommend working with a dog trainer. There are so many tools (gates, crates, etc.) that have helped us immensely that we wouldn't have thought to use if not for the dog trainer's recommendations. Not all dogs with "issues" are candidates for this type of approach/solution, though we have felt that it has been the right one for us. Our main regret is not starting sooner, and even before our daughter was born.

Our dog is about 12 years old and has begun to show her age. Our daughter is now almost 11 months old.

Good luck,




answers from Sacramento on

Nipping is a corrective technique dogs use when they feel they're in charge; it's not aggression. They feel they're helping in a particular situation. (I learned this from a trainer after we dealt with this problem) I would consider working with a dog trainer to control the barking, put an end to nipping and make the dog more comfortable around children. I wouldn't give up now at all but just take steps to help ensure a positive transition when the baby comes home.

Good luck!

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