Toddler & Dog

Updated on February 21, 2008
L.S. asks from South Elgin, IL
5 answers

Hi there! My very actice and imaginative 21-month old has taken an interest in our dog. Unfortunately the dog doesn't like the attention. He actually doesn't like attention from most people, he has always been afraid of people! So my little guy likes to chase him around teh house, mimic what he does and is trying to grab his tail. I'm terrified he'll bite my son, and he's not a tiny dog. Does anyone have suggestions about how to get my son to lose interest?! It makes me so nervous!

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So What Happened?

Thanks! This advice has been really helpful. I will have to be creative and pull out the baby gate again to separate the two. I think part of the problem is, my son spends the day at Grandma's and her dog doesn't mind the attention. Maybe I should ask her to avoid keeping the two of them together too to reinforce the whole supervised time with a dog.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi L.,
I think the only safe way to handle this would be to give your dog a safe place to retreat to where he knows he will be left alone - does he have a dog kennel or a sleeping area that you can make off limits to your 21 month old? You will have to supervise their interaction constantly to prevent injury to your son. Spend time teaching your son how to touch the dog gently and have him give the dog treats so that your dog associates your son with good things. Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on


I was a very dedicated dog owner before we had kids. We have two German Shepherds that were the focus of our lives. Sydney (11.5) and Raven (8) are still part of our lives, but on a much more limited basis. I know Sydney (my girl) wouldn't ever do anything to me or my DH and I trust her very much - with us. I don't feel the same with other people or especially with my boys. Raven wouldn't know how to hurt anyone, I don't think. Lol.

As for your son showing interest, my older son's first word was "GAH" which meant "dog". He LOVED watching our dogs and now our 6 month old just laughs and kicks when he sees them. I don't think you can really get your son to not be interested, so IMHO you should teach him how to respect the dog.

First of all, I'd teach your son to be gentle. I'd only allow him around your dog when it's a very controlled environment and you or you DH are there to control it. Show him how to pet the dog, "nice". At this point, we still don't allow our older son (2.5) alone with either of the dogs. He pets them, hugs them and they give him kisses - all when we're around and on a limited basis. Even Sydney, whom I worry about, lays on her back (a very vulnerable, trusting position for a dog) and wants belly rubs from our son.

Second, I wouldn't allow your son to chase the dog. That can be very intimidating for the dog and if he gets cornered very well could bite. If your son feels the need to chase (of course it's FUN!), then tell him that "Doggie will need to go away". Put the dog in a separate room for awhile. If he's running from your son, I'm sure he will welcome the alone time. :)

Dogs and kids can end up being the best of friends as long as boundries are clear and enforced. As much as I love my dogs, I never lost sight of what they are...dogs. They communicate with actions and actually give warnings before they haul off and bite. As humans, we just don't get their signals a lot of the time. By running away from your son, your dog is saying "leave me alone". Ignoring that could lead to a warning look, a lip curl, a growl and then a bite.

Good luck.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other posters here -- supervised time, a place for the dog to retreat to that is off limits to your son and teach your son how to be gentle. Hopefully the dog will come around and realize that boundries are in place and feel less threatened/smothered/whatever it's feeling.

We have a 20 month old and a 90 pound lab -- it's a fun mix and a great way to teach a lessen to our son about respect for and treatment of animals. Bottom line, it's still a dog. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Your son will likely never lose interest in "his puppy" as it sounds like this is how he see's him. Infants/toddlers develop amazing relationships with family pets without our ever having to introduce them. When my son was born we had only one boxer who at the time was 5 1/2 and really spoiled. She was mildly jealous at first, but within a week became really protective of him and who was allowed to hold him or even come near him. She has always had a slightly aggressive side to her which my husband and I know and watch for with her so when family or friends came over we would get on guard with her and were prepared to lock her up if necessary. It has only happened once now that she didn't like someone near the baby. When our son was 4 mos, we got another puppy boxer, and she has become our son's dog. Once our boy became mobile we kept the older puppy pretty much away from him. The puppy however has grown up with him, grabbing, chasing, and now sleeping together, and the two of them are the best of friends. HOwever our oldest pup has had to learn that if the boy comes near her, she needs to move. Right now our son is not old enough to recognize the warnings and thinks it's playing, so we have trained her by providing special spaces throughout the house that are off limits to the boy at times, wehre she can go when she wants to get away, by using baby gates which she jumps over or lets us know that she wants out. They are never unsupervised together either, as she generally follows me from room to room. providing "safe spaces" has really worked for us, and while I know that the kids safety is obviously most important, it has helped to provide our dog with her own continued sense of comfort without making her feel displaced, thus cutting down on the possibility of jealousy within "the pack".



answers from Chicago on

we had that w/our cats. We started time outs around a year, and we had to do that alot w/our son at first. I use his hand and show gentle touch and only let him touch his back. He is not allowed to touch the cats feet, face, tail etc... and if he does he gets a warning and then a time out. usually the cat runs away but when he starts chasing him i tell him the cat is scared and to leave him alone and be nice.

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