Puppies do a lot of "mouthing" including, often, on their owners and care-givers if allowed, and when they get excited they jump up on kids a lot. for anyone around 5 or younger, this is probably quite intimidating even from relatively small dogs. I want to be sure my child and the children I care for are safe from being bitten by an over-excited puppy and/or knocked over. I also want to be sure the dog is fairly safe from pulled hair, ears and tail, poked eyes and other unpleasant things for the dog.

What are some rules and procedures I can instill to be sure to keep everyone "safe?" or at least, "safer?"

  • Frankly: not much. Babyproof all furniture so that if the kid hits an edge he won't get hurt. Dogs are dogs and it'll be difficult to change that. Or... get a cat! :)
    – Dariusz
    Nov 29, 2013 at 17:28
  • 2
    We have a cat - it is far more dangerous than most puppies I've met - nasty, our cat is. Nov 29, 2013 at 17:39
  • Why not adopt an older dog who is already kid friendly and trained? Then all you really need do is teach your child not to pull tails or ears. To be gentle with the dog.
    – DCook
    Sep 12, 2017 at 14:41

6 Answers 6


Balanced Mama! There are lots of ways to make sure your kids and your dog are safe from one another. A lot of websites and books exhort you to "always watch your dog and child together," but they don't always tell you what to look for. You want to watch for your dog's very first signs of discomfort, and depending on your dog, these can be very subtle:

  • averted eyes or "whale eye" in which you can see the whites of your dog's eyes.
  • moving away, or leaning away from the child,
  • lip licking
  • ears pinned back (depends on dog's ear shape)
  • sweaty foot pads (leaving little pad prints as they walk)

If you see your dog exhibiting these stress signals, make sure he gets some space from the child immediately. Dogs tolerate a LOT from us humans, but they shouldn't have to.

Make sure your dog has a safe place to go where your toddler cannot pursue him. For older children teach them to never disturb a sleeping dog, or a dog who's in his special place. For younger children, don't risk it, just make sure they can't even get to that place.

Never punish your dog for growling at your child. Growling is a WAY better warning signal than a snap at your child's body or face. If a dog growls at you, your first instinct can be to react with anger or to try to stop it, but instead you should say (something like) "Thank you for the clear warning. I'm going to give you the space you need right now before this gets scarier for you or worse for me."

If you're too tired or overwhelmed, or don't have the capacity to focus on the interactions between your dog and your child, just keep them separated--with ex-pens or doors or a crate.

Good luck! I think you can do this!

  • I never realized dogs could sweat through their pads. Thanks for the interesting bit of information.
    – magerber
    Sep 12, 2017 at 16:18

On the other end of the spectrum, teaching your child how to interact with the dog is just as important as training the dog out of behaviors like mouthing (fwiw, we had great luck with a spritzer filled with Bitter Apple; one squirt and the dog was all "Blech! Not mouthing any more EVAH.").

We have a huge fur rug that some people call a Newfoundland. He's a great dog for kids 'cause he's extraordinarily patient with them, but we still spend a lot of time training them in interactions.

With large dogs, we (personally) find that pack behavior leads to happier dogs and humans. For the kids specifically,

  1. Ignore him when they see him and he goes NUTS (he might be an old campaigner but he's a puppy around his humans) until he calms down;
  2. Walk through him if he's in their way (alpha never gives way to other members of the pack). IOW, walk as if he's not there, and don't look at him or acknowledge him;
  3. Give commands with backup from parents (they tell him to Sit and Recover for his dinner, tell him to Settle on his bed when he comes in, etc.). With us standing behind them, he takes it more seriously.

And like @sleepyowl says, teaching the kids how to treat the dog and how to recognize when the dog has had ENOUGH are key. I spent a lot of time reminding mine that the dog is a living creature and can feel pain just like they can. They're very gentle with him now. And with the cats.


As a recent owner of Corgi pup, I have also thought and sought advice for this particular aspect. What I can tell from my experience and recommendations from other owners/trainers:

1) how to avoid jumping on people - when a pup jumps, simply put your hands in front and block the way with words 'down' or 'no'. if the dog keeps jumping, push the dog with your hands down, but not too hard.

2) playing without mouthing - use dog toys for plays (especially when running in the backyard) , so that the pup bites the toys but not the hands. some dog owners also grab the dog's mouth to shut it with the strict 'no'.

3) explain the kid that dogs are not toys and ask the kid how would he feel if someone pulled his hair/poked his eyes.

always praise the dog for good behavior!


In think it's up to both: Your kid and the dog. Your daughter must understand, that a dog is a living being with feelings - and also sharp teeth. And that dogs play differently that she does, this also includes biting. You can make the dog bite you during a 'fight', to show, that it doesn't hurt too much, and the dog is also playing like this. I did that to show a friend of mine, who had little a fear of dogs, that the dog is cool. At least my friend started petting the dog a bit =)

Your dog on the other hand must understand, that your daughter is your precious. But I don't think you can teach a dog what's bad, until the dog did something bad and you scold the dog immediately. This depends extremely on the dog. Our dog was like 'super smart'. Not like 'can do 100 tricks' smart, but had a lot of empathy, and a lot of character.

Hope this helps, slowy

PS: Man, I miss our dog =(


Dogs need their own space. Have kennel or pad that when he or she goes there you leave them alone. Don't wake them up.

Explain they need to be nice to the dog.

Certain breeds are better with kids.

While they are teething they are going to chew.

Don't play ruff with the dog.


You have a number of really insightful and helpful answers, but they all seem to miss the one thing that I always did with any children that weren't used to interacting with animals. Show them what appropriate touching looks like, and help them practice it.

I feel like I gave spent hours of my life sitting on the floor with a child and my VERY patient dog Jack, saying "gentle touches" and holding the child's hand as they stroked his back or head gently. I did a lot of opening small fists to help them be more gentle, etc. Often the kids would forget when they got overly excited, but a reminder about gentle touching was usually enough for thm to calm down again.

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