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Rules I follow with my toddler and dogs as a Behaviour Consultant & Dog/Child Safety Specialist

Updated: Jan 5


dog bit toddler

  1. Growls and other warning signs are appreciated and respected, not punished.

  2. Dogs are not to be bothered while resting or eating, period.

  3. Both parents are well-versed in body language so they can intervene early before discomfort escalates.

Understanding what your dog looks like when they are starting to feel stressed will help you to intervene early before that stress escalates. It also will help your dog feel safe in their home, knowing you have their back.


4. Gates are used regularly throughout the day to allow the dogs to rest and prevent bad experiences.

Gates should be used any time you cannot actively supervise your dog and child. This allows your dog a safe space away from a noisy and disruptive toddler, prevents bad experiences and allows for quality, uninterrupted rest.


5. My toddler is not allowed to walk my dog (both for safety and my dog’s comfort).

Many dogs will show signs of stress when a toddler is in charge of their leash and they deserve to feel happy and safe on their walk. It is also unsafe for a toddler to be holding the leash if the dog were to pull or lunge at something. Toddlers are also known to be a bit spacey, and the risk of dropping the leash in a dangerous area (like beside a busy road) is high.


6. Interaction happens when dogs approach toddler, not the other way around. Consent tests are included to ensure dog has opportunity to opt out.

Ensuring that the dog is the one to initiate the interaction, and that they can opt out at any time, helps to prevent bad experiences and increases the likelihood that the interaction will go well. Both parties should always be consenting to the interaction, or it is interrupted.


7. Goal is for dogs and toddler to peacefully coexist, not be best friends.

If the toddler and dog enjoy each other's company, this is great. However, we should not be pushing our dog to be friends with our toddler. Aim for peaceful coexistance, and take anything extra as a bonus.


8. Incidents that occur are opportunities for reflection on my parenting, rather than placing blame on my child or dogs.

Neither dogs or toddlers have the mental capacity to assertate what is right or wrong, and both have no to very little impulse control. As the adult, it is up to you to manage the situation safely and reflect if an incident has occurred.



Need support with your dog and baby or toddler? Let's connect!



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