Canine aggression toward children (Proceedings)


Canine aggression toward children (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2010

Dogs these days are treated as children. They are expected to be social, and to have good manners. Unfortunately, some dogs are just not comfortable with children. Puppies purchased from breeders as well as adults adopted from shelters may present for aggressive behavior toward children.

When owners bring their puppies for their first wellness examinations, they should be educated about the value of socialization. It may not be possible to overcome a genetic predisposition to be fearful of or aggressive toward children. But if there is a chance to do so, that chance occurs during the sensitive period of development. This period ends as puppies approach 16 weeks of age. Encourage clients to attend puppy socialization classes and to bring their children along.

Even with adequate appropriate exposure, dogs may begin to exhibit aggression toward children as they mature. When aggression is directed toward non-household children, some owners carefully supervise or routinely separate the dog from visiting children. They don't mind leaving the dog home when they attend social events. If households maintain a laissez-faire open door policy, safety cannot be assured. Rehoming may be the only option.

It is more difficult to manage aggression that is directed toward household children. There are multiple opportunities for interactions on any given day. In some cases, owners have unreasonable expectations. People are often unaware that many routinely exhibited, normal behaviors of children appear threatening to some dogs.