Toddler and Dog

Updated on June 09, 2009
N.T. asks from Pompano Beach, FL
8 answers

I need some suggestions. My toddler gets very exctied around our ten year old dog and is very rough with him. Thank goodness our dog has the patience of a saint. Every time I catch him playing or petting him rough, I give him one verbal warning. If he continues, I put him in time out for one minute, then after time is up, bring him back to the dog and show him how to pet the dog nice. This is not working fast enough. I'm afraid he is really going to hurt the dog - today he poked him in the eye so hard he cried. I need help!! Any other suggestions?

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answers from Miami on

Hi, N.. Well, I think you need to keep the toddler from being alone with the dog. Toddler doesn't understand how to treat the dog -- he's not ready to be responsible for an animal yet -- and sooner or later, the dog is going to get fed up with the todddler and get back at him. No fault of the toddler's or the dog's, but the two of them are not going to be best buddies yet.

Now, if you want them to end up as best friends, then I would suggest never leaving the todddler alone with the dog as long as he is a toddler. If he keeps getting punished for playing with the dog, he's going to resent the dog because the toddler just doesn't understand what he's doing wrong yet. He can't remember all the rules yet, and he isn't capable of putting himself in someone else's place. Therefore, he ALWAYS has to be supervised with the dog, and never left alone with him. He's going to have to have an awful lot of modeling from you and others before he understands how to play with the dog. The toddler doesn't have even the motor skills to know when he's touching too roughly. He doesn't have the self-control. It's no his fault, but he can learn eventually.

Have patience, and always be in the room when both of them are in the room together.

I hope the boy and his dog learn to really love each other.


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answers from Orlando on

When he is rough with the dog, no warning!!! Immediate consequence!!

I know Super Nanny always says to give a "warning" first, but I really just don't agree with that. As a teacher, I have been taught that if you have done a good enough job establishing rules and boundaries then no warning is necessary. Have you ever noticed on Super Nanny that once a child gets a warning, they pretty much ALWAYS do it again and end up in time out???? The "warning" is almost like telling a child "go ahead and test me, I dare you. " What's the point? Your child KNOWS he isn't supposed to be rough with the dog, but it's his job as a toddler to test the world around him--- so he is testing you to see if there will be a consequence, and testing to dog to see what kind of reaction he'll get. Scoop him up and give him a consequnce right away before your dog figures out that he needs to be the one dishing out the punishment and your son ends up bit!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Hi N.! Yes..that is a rough one. Do you have a way to separate your son and dog when you are not actively with both of them? I am not sure how old your toddler son is, but maybe he just needs a little bit more time to comprehend how to behave with your dog. You could all be together when you can actively participate in your sons interactions, and use that time reinforce gentle touches...but if it is a time where your son has "free play", your dog might appreciate the safe break. I am a BIG animal lover, and I don't even know how I would separate my own dog in our home ( I would miss her!), but what I have learned with my daughter is that everything lasts for a season, so maybe you just need a few more months before your son is better prepared to comprehend his behavior. Otherwise, I think you are right on with the time outs. We have 4 cats and a dog, and sometimes my daughter just hugs them too hard, and she knows that she IMMEDIATELY goes to time out if that happens. It sounds like you are doing everything right, so just keep it up, and if possible, give your dog a break sometimes!
A. :)



answers from Orlando on

Looks like you've gotten a lot of good advice. My daughter is almost 5 and has had to learn how to behave and interact with our rottie-lab mix. Supervision is a must, but I would also suggest that you find a way for your child to interact with the dog in a healthy way: Fetch, training, tricks... perhaps things that allows your child to reward doggy with treats. That way, they can build a bond. I have always tried to instill in my daughter not only a love for animals, but respect for them. They are, after all creatures with instincts and will protect themselves if they must. My daughter is much better now and is even gentle enough to hold tiny kittens.
I also agree that you do not need to give warnings anymore. It would be better that you teach your toddler respect for animals, instead of the dog teaching him. I understand that your dog is gentle. Mine is too, but patience only last so long.
Don't get discouraged. If you keep at it, you'll get there.
Good luck and God bless!



answers from Orlando on

I have an almost 2 year old and I also have two big, older, dogs. My son is not allowed near the dogs without close supervision. It wouldn't be fair to my son or the dogs to expect him to have appropriate behavior with the dogs at this age, so to prevent anyone from getting hurt or in trouble, all interaction is closely supervised.

It sounds like your son and your dog shouldn't be around each other unless you are right there, monitoring how rough he is. It's a hard age because they seem to really enjoy being around animals but don't understand that hair pulling and hitting can hurt.

Set both up for success by not letting them get into a position of hurting one another. At some point your dog may decide he's had enough and then you will really be in a tight spot. :(



answers from Orlando on

Do you praise your son when he is nice to your dog? You can also show him examples of how to be nice to your dog too. We have a 19 month old son & 3 big dogs, all are fairly young though. But when he gets too rough, we make him show them "nice" touches & say sorry to him. I know he is young to understand what sorry is. But with repetition, he will eventually learn.
Thank goodness you have a patient dog...we do too.



answers from Jacksonville on

Get a baby gate where you can seperate the child & dog preferrably where the dog is comfortable. And then only let them together when you are in the room so you can supervise. The dog deserves to be kept safe as well as your child.



answers from Miami on

Go to and click on the articles about kids and dogs. This child and dog should not be alone together without supervision.

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