How can I stop a dog from nipping a child?
Puppy nipping and biting is not only a normal behavior but also a common problem for puppy owners. It is among the top reason why most people surrender their puppies to a shelter. However, to stop a puppy from engaging in this behavior, you must understand why they do so.
Puppies, especially those under eight weeks, will most likely nip at literally anything and everything. Just like human babies, a dog wants to learn how the world works. They want to explore their surroundings; their mouth is necessary for this process since they do not have hands.
However, this does not mean that you should excuse the habit. It will help if you put a lot of effort into making him stop nipping. If you have a child, your puppy will likely want to play with it. It might feel like he now has another puppy to play with. Let me take you a little bit back to understand puppies better.
Usually, puppies are born in a litter and grow and learn the world together before they are separated. Puppies need to socialize and play with their siblings.
During this period, puppies adopt good behavior from playing with their peers. As we all know, we cannot disregard the importance of mouthing puppies. They will need to learn how to control their behavior nevertheless.
Nipping and Biting
There is no better way for the puppies to learn than with their peers. While playing, you may notice that puppies may bite each other playfully. The bitten pup will retreat if one puppy nips the other hard and painfully. He will also produce a yelping sound to let the biter know he is hurting. Usually, most puppies will stop and enhance gentle play.
However, in some cases, some puppies will not stop biting their peers. The bitten puppy will now withdraw from playing, letting the other puppy know that his behavior is unacceptable. He may, actually, never want to play with the biter again.
A puppy nipping a child should be discouraged immediately, especially if it hurts your kid. Punishing your puppy may seem like a solution, but it may lead to future problems. This is why you must develop safer and more effective ways of making your puppy stop nipping a child.
It would help to consider that a child does not understand your dog’s feelings. To curb this behavior, you must know why your dog is nipping your child and under what circumstances.
In most cases, your dog will play with your child, and it always ends with both of them happy. However, things may go south if your child does not know how to handle your dog. We understand that dogs do not understand human behavior, but we do understand their behaviors.
As undesirable as these behaviors may be, we must always devise ways to handle them. It is unlikely for your dog to attach your child to the blues. Therefore, monitor how your child behaves with your dog to teach them otherwise.
Usually, if your child hurts your dog, there is likely to be a commotion about it. Hurt dogs react with biting; thus, you should encourage your child to do so. How your child handles the family dog will determine their relationship. It is, therefore, essential to teach kids how to manage and live with the dog.
My dog nips my child; what should I do?
If this isn’t among the top questions for dog owners with kids, I do not know what is. It is a common problem that almost every dog owner goes through at some point in life. However, do not panic as we are going to help you stop a dog from nipping a child;
Refrain from leaving your child alone with your dog
Well, like most dogs are, babies are also learning about the world and how it works. It would help if you always watched your child whenever they played with the dog. Understand that both have no idea what they are doing most time. Your dog can easily be provoked by a child and end up nipping them. Usually, your dog will develop some bond with your child. They will play with each other but make no mistake; if your kid hits your dog, he might retaliate.
Therefore, never leave them alone, even when they seem to be playing safe games. Whenever you are leaving the room, make sure to go with one of them. This way, you will not have surprises at home. Furthermore, if your dog seems more aggressive towards the child, you may separate the two for some time.
Adopt older puppies
We all want to have well-behaved dogs, don’t we? This is why some people tend to get young puppies, as they are easier to train and bond with. Furthermore, puppies are cute! However, puppies under the age of 8 weeks are still in need of their mother. This could be for kneading reasons or even learning reasons.
These puppies are still learning and picking behaviors from their mother and peers. They need to know things we cannot teach, like socializing and biting inhibition. We have already examined how puppies’ mixing may help them refrain from biting and nipping. This usually happens between the ages of 5-8 weeks, and therefore do not need to be separated from their family.
A puppy that has learned biting inhibition from his peers will not necessarily nip on a child. This is why you should get an older puppy for the young ones who have not yet understood the world.
Teach your child how to handle a dog
Often, we fail to address this issue and assume that the kid can handle the dog fine. However, it would help if you understood that your kid is learning and may not relate well to the dog. If your kid startles or even hurts the dog, he might nip the child at the end of the day.
Keeping tabs on your baby’s every move can be challenging with our busy lives. On the other hand, your dog may take it as a sign of aggression from your baby. Below are a few tips on how you should handle your baby when you have a dog;
Deploy baby gates in the house
This is a crucial step when you have a baby and a dog in the same house. If you have a toddler, you understand that they are always on the move. One minute of distraction is good enough for your toddler to do something messy. This could be very dangerous for your child as simple play could lead to aggression from your dog. Therefore, it is essential to install baby gates to prevent your child from moving from one place to another.
Do not put the baby on the floor with your dog.
Babies move fast, and, as mentioned earlier, they are learning. This means that the baby is experimenting with exploring the world. However, as much as this is important for your kid, it might also turn dangerous when you have a dog that nips. Your unsupervised baby may provoke your dog to bite, especially if they are both on the floor. In addition, your dog may think that your baby is another puppy and thus may nip to initiate play.
Do not let your child anywhere near a sleeping dog.
In the same way, you would hate to be disturbed in your sleep; your dog will not appreciate it either. Therefore, do not let your child near your dog while napping. He may react aggressively towards your child.
Teach your child not to throw things at the dog
Throwing things at a dog may seem playful, but your dog may take it as aggressiveness. In this case, your dog is likely going to react aggressively too.
Your child should not try to take something out of the dog’s mouth.
Kids are pretty protective of their items. For instance, your kid will be very protective of his toys. He is not ready to share them with your dog. Your child may try to get it back when your dog bites on the toy. However, this is not a good idea as your dog may nip them. Instead, teach your child never to try to take something from the dog’s mouth.
Provide a crate for your dog (See crate prices on Amazon)
How to stop a dog from nipping a child
By providing a crate, you are offering your dog his private place of his own in the house. This means your dog owns the space, and no one should take that away from him. This includes your child, who should not go anywhere near the place.
This is especially good if you have a puppy that may need to rest now and then. Therefore, his crate should bring nothing but peace to your dog.
Toys are the best method to redirect your dog’s attention. In this case, you should always ensure that your child has a soft toy whenever they play with the dog. Get a smooth and enticing toy and teach your child how to use it. This way, your dog will not mouth your child when he has an option.
Encourage gentle play between the child and the dog.
Your dog will respond to play with the same energy as that your child. This means that when your child plays aggressively with your dog, he will also be aggressive. For instance, your child may run around the home with the dog chasing them. However, this might entice your dog to keep chasing; they have wild hunting instincts.
Do not get me wrong; it is entirely safe for them to play. However, teach your child and dog about acceptable games and those that are not. Overexciting your dog may encourage nipping during playtime.
Put your dog on time out.
We have discussed how to prevent a dog from nipping a child. However, you will need an immediate and effective solution once this happens. Observe how your dog plays with your child before actually acting on it. Once he nips your kid, put the dog on a time-out, let’s say 30 seconds, where he will be alone. Refrain from letting the dog play with the child after nips at him.
Alternatively, stop playing immediately. He nips the child. Your dog needs to know that squeezing a child is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by your child refraining from playing with him. Over time, he will learn that nipping a child is intolerable.
Note that you cannot simply treat your child’s hands as they will also mouth their own hands. Therefore, deterring your dog from mouthing your child using chemicals is highly discouraged.
All in all, understand why your dog is nipping a child to be able to stop him. If your child initiates aggressive play, you must teach them how to be gentle. Keep your dog’s crate or den out of reach from your child. This way, your kid will not be able to approach your dog when he is asleep, limiting the chances of a dog nipping them.
In addition, you should always supervise your child whenever they play with your dog. This way, you will be able to observe and teach good games. Teach your child not to hug the dog. This might signify affection among humans, but it is not the same with dogs. They may take it as aggression and thus nip your child.
Soft play is essential to teach when you have a child. Ensure your child has toys within reach whenever they play with your dog. Baby gates are also very vital to restrict unsupervised movement by your child. In addition, your child’s room should be inaccessible to your dog, and your dog’s crate should be unavailable to your child.