The most common reason for a dog to growl at a child for no apparent reason is fear. Children can sometimes be a little too rough with dogs. If your dog has had an unpleasant experience with a child in the past, they may now be scared of all children.
Many dog owners with children get frustrated because their dog growls at their children, especially when playing with each other. This can be very frightening for both the parents and the children.
There may be some cause for concern, but most of the time, this behavior has nothing to do with aggression or violence towards the child or towards anyone else in the family.
Dogs need to learn what they can and cannot do around children, just as kids need to learn how to interact with dogs safely.
This guide will teach you how to put an end to this growling behavior.
Why Your Dog is Growling At Your Kid
There are several reasons dogs act aggressively towards children. Perhaps they were mistreated by children in their early life, or maybe your dog was not properly socialized while growing up.
Whatever the reason may be, there are ways you can work with your pet to help them become more comfortable around kids. Some of the reasons your dog may growl at your kids include:
Below, we will discuss each of these in detail.
Your dog may growl at your child because they’re afraid. Kids can be too rough with dogs or make sudden movements that scare your dog. Most dogs do not have a problem with children, but it’s easy for some dogs to feel frightened when faced with new situations.
Make sure your child treats the dog nicely, not pulling their tail or annoying them.
If your child seems scared of your dog or vice versa, try slowly introducing them in a positive way so that both parties are comfortable with each other.
Teach your kids how to give regular commands, like sit and stop. Even though you are teaching them how to be gentle with animals, reassure yourself that most dogs are good-natured creatures who don’t want to hurt your children; they just want your attention!
Your kids can learn by example how to safely give commands while being playful at the same time.
Your dog may growl when playing with your child, but not in an aggressive way. Play gives them a chance to use their teeth on something other than you or your furniture! Whatever you do, don’t punish them if they growl; it will make things worse.
Instead, teach your children how to play carefully and quietly with animals by taking turns and giving commands like leave it and take it.
Remember that most dogs only play as rough as they’re allowed to.
In some cases, your dog may be aggressive to your child, which is what’s triggering the growling. In this case, you need to correct it immediately so it doesn’t escalate and your child isn’t harmed.
There are a few possible causes for your dog’s aggression toward your child. First, they may feel threatened and overprotective because of your child’s size and unfamiliarity with dogs.
Second, they may not like how they feel when you pet them while you’re holding your baby—this can trigger his territorial instinct and make them think you want to get rid of them.
Finally, they might really dislike or hate kids because they have had unpleasant experiences with children in the past.
If your dog is protective of you, they may growl at your child as they try to assert themselves. Your dog may even growl at any other person, not just your child. However, it may be more common for them to growl at your child because they compete for your attention.
Sometimes, dogs will growl or make other funny noises when over-excited. If they absolutely adore your children and love playing with them, they may growl, but not aggressively. They are simply showing their love and how ecstatic they are.
Illness or Injury
If your dog growls at your child when they are playing or when your child is touching the dog, it could be a sign that your dog is in pain.
Your child may be a bit rough with the dog, causing them discomfort. You can usually tell when your dog is growling because they’re happy or not well. If you think your dog may have an illness or injury, take them to the vet.
Playful Growling vs. Dangerous Behavior
Dog’s growl for many reasons, but not all are causes for concern. It’s important to tell when it’s aggressive growling and when it isn’t. Aggressive growls come with other warning signs that signal aggression in dogs, including hard eyes, stiff legs, bared teeth, and lashing a tail.
If your dog is displaying any combination of these things while making an aggressive sound, you need to discipline him immediately and make sure you remove your child from the equation.
Aggression needs to be addressed immediately—growling can lead to biting, which can mean permanent damage, expensive medical bills, and even lawsuits if your dog ends up biting someone else.
However, if there are no other signs of aggression accompanying their growl, they’re likely simply playing around rather than showing actual aggression. For example, playful dogs typically run away when their humans chase or clap their hands—aggression may instead cause your pup to become more irritated or even snap in response.
Be careful though, even though your dog may just be playing around with your child, they may accidentally hurt your child.
Make sure your dog knows not to play rough with your kids and make sure their playtime is always supervised until your child is old enough.
How to Stop Your Dog from Growling At Your Child
To stop your dog from growling at your child, understand why your dog is growling in the first place.
In some cases, a growl might be a precursor to a bite. In other cases, it may just be a mild annoyance. Unfortunately, since it’s so hard for us humans to read our dogs, we do not know how bad things are going before we’re already in deep water.
To stop your dog from growling at your child, you should:
- Correct the behavior immediately (discipline your dog and make sure they know that behavior is not accepted)
- Redirect your dog’s attention to something else, like a toy
- Distance the dog and the child
- Only let your dog and child interact under supervision
- Learn to understand your dog’s emotional cues and why they may growl
If you’re struggling with managing your dog’s temperament around your child, it may be time to invest in a professional dog trainer or obedience classes. They can help with behavioral issues, including growling, and help you instill good behaviors in your dog.
Reward Good Behavior, Discipline Bad Behavior
When playing with your pet, they must realize you’re in control. It may be necessary to put them in a submissive position before engaging with them. Always reward good behavior and discipline poor behavior by using positive reinforcement, like treats or praise.
Never react aggressively towards your dog if they growl; instead, divert their attention back towards something fun. If you notice any signs of aggression, don’t engage with your dog until they’ve calmed down.
Uncover the Reason for the Growling
If your dog has never growled before, pay attention if they do it now. Is there another reason they’re acting aggressive or showing aggression? Did you trigger them into protecting their space or something they think is their territory?
If your answer to these questions is no, then it’s likely that there’s something else going on behind your dog’s behavior—something causing them anxiety and stress.
It might be loud noises (thunderstorms), physical discomfort (being touched on their sensitive tail), or even something as simple as wanting your attention so badly that they feel cornered and threatened by others trying to take some of it away from them.
Don’t panic if your dog shows aggression towards others. By keeping calm, keeping your pet calm, and not giving in to their demands, you’ll be able to break bad habits before they become ingrained.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.