6 Tips For Teaching Your Kids to Behave Around Dogs

Joseph is a Chihuahua who was abused by a child from his own family. As a result of the abuse, one of his front legs had to be removed after it was badly broken. Joseph’s family returned to the veterinary clinic when his remaining front leg was also broken. At that point the veterinarian realized that the dog was being abused and luckily for Joseph, the abusive family was convinced to surrender ownership.

Now, Fighting for Dawn, an organization that rescues neglected animals that are victims of poor circumstances, is working to help with Joseph’s recovery needs.

Joseph has been taken to the rescue agency’s veterinarian, who recommends that his remaining leg be amputated for health reasons, so he will need a wheelchair to support the front portion of his body so he can once again run and play like these dogs.

Joseph’s story may be an extreme example of what can go wrong when kids mistreat the family pet, but for parents with dogs, it serves as a good reminder that dogs are not the only ones who need training. Children also need to be taught how to behave around dogs.

Doing this is up to the parents, claims The Dogington Post:

As a parent or owner of a dog, you are responsible for teaching kids how to behave around dogs and vice-versa. In many cases if proper training and education are not taken seriously from the beginning, disasters can occur. The safety and well-being of all involved are too important to leave this “fact of life” to chance.

Here are some basic tips for teaching kids how to behave around dogs:

1. Supervise

One of the most common pieces of advice for parents with kids and dogs is to never leave them alone together.

Jessa Post is mom to daughter Anika (whose first word was “dog”) and a dog named Munker. Jessa’s advice about teaching kids how to behave around the family dog is: “Make sure to supervise. That’s the most important thing to do. Because she has no boundaries, and neither does the dog.”

2. Teach, Repeat. Teach, Repeat.

Family Paws Parent Education presenter Colleen Pelar offers this advice for parents of dogs and kids:

Do your kids remember to use a napkin at every meal? Mine don’t. They know what is expected, but sometimes they forget. That’s part of being a kid. Your kids may know the rules, but it’s hard for them to be consistent and empathetic.

When it comes to teaching kids how to interact with dogs, I tell parents to think of themselves as a coach, giving constant feedback (both positive and negative) and encouraging improvement.

3. Talk with kids about kindness and respect.

ASPCA makes this suggestion to help prevent animal cruelty:

We regularly see children in homes where animal abuse has been reported. If a parent isn’t treating the family’s pets right, we tell the kids that their dog or cat would really appreciate fresh water every day or some daily playtime. If the animal has been left outside without shelter, we’ll say, “You have a nice house, and if you get cold, you can put a coat on. But your dog can’t do that.” Children understand that animals are living creatures who have the ability to feel pain, joy and sadness.

4. Teach Kids to Treat a Dog Like Another Kid

RSPCA advises, ”Don’t let your child climb on dogs, pull their ears or do anything you wouldn’t allow them to do to another child.”

5. Children Need to Learn About Dogs

Author and Trainer Kathy Diamond Davis warns, “training the dog is not possible as long as children are allowed to carry out what is tantamount to dog abuse, although the parents do not realize it.” She offers many helpful insights in this canine behavior series.

6. Zero Tolerance Policy For Mistreatment

As an adult, make sure your scruples are firing on all cylinders and lead by example. You can train your kids and your dog, but if you are not treating your family pet with the respect it deserves, chances are, neither will your children.

If you do witness kids treating the family pet inappropriately, snap into action, don’t snap pictures, like this woman who posted a photo on Facebook of her two daughters in the back seat of a car, proudly posing with their rope-tied dog dangling upside down. (Thankfully she was charged with a misdemeanor of animal cruelty and issued a summons to appear in court.)

Unfortunately for many family pets, you don’t have to look hard to find countless examples of animal cruelty. But with a little bit of research, consistency and common sense, dogs and kids can live harmoniously and pets can actually offer an opportunity to teach kids responsibility, compassion and empathy. Plus when kids and dogs get along and respect each other, the trust and bond that develops over time can be quite profound.

Help Joseph!

If you’re interested in learning more about Joseph, visit www.fightingfordawn.com or visit Joseph’s wish list here.

Do you have a kid AND dog family? Please share you tips in the comments about how to create a harmonious experience for all.

Photo credit: Tex Dworkin


Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Stella Gambardella
Stella G4 years ago

Quando si amano gli animali si rispettano, e il dovere di ogni buon genitore, o amico, o parente è quello di sensibilizzare qualsiasi bambino ad interagire con loro in modo adeguato, tutto ha la base nell'educazione e la sensibilità dell'adulto. Grazie

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ
Sonia M4 years ago

Great article with good advices,thanks for sharing

Shannon Moody
Shannon Moody4 years ago

Children need to be taught to not be assholes. Parents - it is YOUR responsibility to teach your kids.
I was visiting my uncle a while back, he has 2 dogs, good girls, Shepherd Crosses. His new neighbour has 3 children, who don't have dogs. I was out front with the dogs, 2 of the kids just came running up to us. It's sad that I had to yell at them to stop running, you don't approach dogs like that. They did stop, to their credit, and then I explained to them HOW to properly approach a dog, and thankfully, NOW THEY KNOW. Oh yes - where were the parents? Who knows!!
PARENTS: Not all dogs like kids, not all dogs have been around kids. But, parents have to stop expecting everyone else to teach their kids for them
**THIS IS NOT AN INSULT TO THE PARENTS THAT DO TEACH THEIR KIDS - I have utmost respect for good parenting, it is solely for the ones who think their kids can do whatever the hell they want

Angev G4 years ago

Pétropolis : now you can help the sanctuary that is home to farm animals, victims of exploitation, of abuse, and all kinds of cruelty. Some comes from Pétropolis some from other places around this city. Today there are 150 lucky animals, please give, for keeping them and to rescue other ones : ♥ Fairy sanctuary - or - ♥ Doe

Thank you for sharing

Angev G4 years ago

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions : ♞ Care 2 - and - ♞ PeticaoPublica.com


Angev G4 years ago

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ DON'T BUY IN A SHOP - ADOPT A SHELTER PET ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tex Dworkin
Tex Dworkin4 years ago

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments everyone! Thomas H. I should have clarified in the post: the woman, dog and child (Anika) pictured are the ones I spoke about in the post. They live together harmoniously thanks to wonderful guidance from their mom (and dad not pictured.) I saw the family interacting and I have to say, the mom was amazing. She did exactly what she advised others to do; supervise, and then supervise some more. When Anika got overly "touchy" with the dog, Mom gently guided the child on what not to do. Mom was also constantly aware of how the dog was reacting to her exploratory child. So having witnessed this family, I give them an A !

Diane Pease
Diane P4 years ago

Years ago, I lost a friend because I told her child to stop pulling on my dog's ears. The dog was a beautiful Irish Setter and was extremely good tolerant so she did not react. The "friend" thought I was wrong in reprimanding her child. I did it because she was doing nothing about it. I could see that this child was hurting the dog. I told her she was lucky that my dog put up with it, because most dogs would not. In cases like that, a dog would nip or bite--and rightfully so. However, then the parent would insist that the dog be euthanized. It is very sad when a good animal has to lose it's life because of something a child did. Parents need to be more aware of what their kids are doing and take responsibility for their actions instead of putting blame on innocent animals for defending themselves.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn
Maria Teresa S4 years ago

Thanks for the article.