I have a 2 years old toddler and older dog Miko.

From some time toddler is pinching/sliming the dog. Miko is human friendly - don't bite, don't growl but just squeak. We told to son than he can't do it because it hurts Miko many times. We tried to explain that it's living creature like we and he feels pain, he is sad etc. but it didn't help. Now when toddler pinch Miko one of us just take him to his room and we sit with him for like 5 mins but we don't play with him, just try to ignore and after around 5mins I ask him if he will go to dog to apologise Miko and stroke him. He answer yes and he does, then play cool for next several hours and then it happens again.

What is correct reaction for such behaviour? How should parent react?

I should add that when toddler pinch the dog then he immediately realise what he did and when we just take him to his room he start crying which means for me that he totally understand what's going on and that we are not happy.

Edited to Add: See the OP's answer for an update on what worked for them.

4 Answers 4


In my experience your 2yo not hurting the dog for a number of hours shows that your program is working, and for their age, your child is doing well.

However, since the dog is still getting hurt you could think about restricting access to the dog, and only allow your child to interact with the dog for short periods of time.

For example, would it be possible to use a dog/baby gate to keep your 2yo from the dog?

If so, then you can maintain the separation for two or three months, and then let your child have more access, and see how it goes.


After some time I can add result of our actions(go to bedroom with child when he pinch a dog). Now son seems to be fully aware what happens when he pinch a dog and they are friends now. I think he didn't pinch him for more than a month. Also I see that dog is closer with son when he stopped hurting him e.g comming when he get back from nursery, licking him, jumping on him etc.

So from time perspective I assume going to another room with child, don't play with him for a while makes sense as he understand that hurting dog is wrong.

  • 2
    Wonderful!!! Thanks for the feedback, and congrats. May I edit your original question to include the fact that you have an update? Feb 16, 2023 at 13:07
  • @anongoodnurse, of course, thanks!
    – Michu93
    Feb 16, 2023 at 13:30

What did you do to show your child acceptable behaviour towards the dog?

Did you show him how to stroke the dog? Pet the dog? scratch the dog?

I know that my parents would have pinched me back and, if the dog had nipped me then they would have told me that it was my fault. However, in these days that would be frowned upon. So you, by taking your child to their room are likely doing the correct thing. Perhaps you should consider longer and longer times if the child continues to repeat the poor behaviour. Also taking away the fun activities as well.

Before any get upset, I have grown up with dogs - always had at least two and often 5 , even 7 at one point. Cocker spaniels, German sheperds, Labradors, Dobermans, border collies. Once I started to crawl I apparently stole dog food to eat - Winalot is not poisonous...

  • 1
    I agree, the sensible thing to do is to separate the dog and the child for a bit and then demonstrate (again, as toddlers need a lot of repetition) the "gentle hands" required to pet the dog. The natural consequence of hitting/pinching our friends is that they won't play with us (aside from the other consequence that they hit back, but adults hitting children is correctly, frowned upon)
    – R Davies
    Dec 5, 2022 at 8:51
  • @Stephie so you are not concerned about eating pet food? But making sure toys are not taken away gets you started?
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 1, 2023 at 17:04
  • @SolarMike I am not concerned about what you did as a toddler. And you were neither the first nor the last to eat pet food. But underhanded comments are very much not ok and we both know that a Nintendo is not a usual toddler toy. You have been warned about CoC violations before, the same applies here. And yes, this is said in my role as moderator of the site.
    – Stephie
    Jan 1, 2023 at 17:13
  • I'd agree with the first half of this, but then you venture into inappropriate territory with the last two paragraphs. I also don't think "taking away fun activities" is a useful comment (beyond and above what Stephie absolutely correctly removed); Toddlers aren't really at the stage where you can have punishments not directly connected to the act to any degree of success.
    – Joe
    Jan 4, 2023 at 3:09

What your son does is being cruel and causing suffering to an animal. What you do by allowing it is being cruel and causing suffering to an animal, and you have no excuse of being two years old.

Explaining to your child that this is painful to the dog isn’t going to help if that is what your child actually wants. What is needed if you want to change the behaviour is showing consequences. Like removing him from the dog as soon as you notice it. And doing that in a way that makes it clear he has done something wrong.

Alternative is finding a new home for your dog. An alternative that you really don’t want is that one day your dog has enough of being mistreated. You didn’t mention what kind of dog it is.

  • 3
    I don't think you read the original question. They do remove him from the room as soon as it happens. I also don't agree that explaining it is painful is a problem - most likely the child is at the stage that he needs to develop empathy, and part of empathy is understanding the pain.
    – Joe
    Jan 4, 2023 at 3:06

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