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Hi John,
I have a 7 yr. old larger breed that I acquired almost 2 yrs. ago. He’s a good dog overall except he’s not good around small children. The person I’m moving in with has 2 young children age 2 and 6 and Torch has already nipped the 6 yr. old in the face. He’s good around the kids if they don’t bother him. He’ll go up to them, smell them, walk past them, anything, until they go to him, then he lowers his ears and head and curls up his lip. If I catch him right away then that’s as far as it goes. I’m wondering if there’s a chance to get him used to kids, or if I should try to find him a new home?


Hi Stella,

Saying, “He’s good around kids if they don’t bother him” and then moving him in with two kids is sort of like saying my dog comes unless there are squirrels about and then buying yourself a squirrel farm.

I know a lot of people that through thick or thin one must honour their commitment to the dog. I do believe that we take on a very important trust when we assume responsibility for another living creature. However I do not believe that absolves us of our responsibility for the safety of our friends and neighbours let alone the vulnerability of children.

Even in ideal situations it is naive to believe that educating children about dogs helps significantly. They are vulnerable because despite the diligence of their parents to educate them they simply will never be able to stop being children. Two year old and 6 year olds will behave like 2 year olds and 6 year olds no matter how well educated they are in the ways of a dog. Any parent that has discovered their precious testing the toilet flush’s strength  by investing increasing sizes of mom’s jewellery knows this. “If I catch him right away then that’s as far as it goes.” , isn’t going to cut it.

Obviously, your situation is worse then living with a stable dog. You have no wiggle room. Your dog is already uncomfortable with this new arrangement. Enough so he actually nailed a child in the face. If nothing else, you should hear it as a cry for help from your dog. “Hey, I’m 7. I’m nearing retirement and you want me to spend my remaining years how?”

The flattening of his ears and other posturing indicate this is fear based and whenever I encounter this sort of reaction I can be almost certain the the dog was not properly socialized with children or in your case socialized around the the way they approach. Essentially to the dog, the kids are humans until they move and in doubt it tries to protect itself.

Some dogs can be brought around to the point where they say “I’ll do it but I don’t have to like it.” However, the number of success stories if you want to call that success are dwarfed by the number of dogs killed because the rehab attempts failed and at the expense of a child.

Don’t wait that long, have him assessed but prepare yourself that his best bet may be his owner putting his mental well being before her own and then find him as close to a child free zone as possible to live in.

John Wade

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