Stopping a Dachshund From Acting Aggressive to the Family’s Toddler

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 7, 2024

Riley Daisy Ely Phoebe scaled - Stopping a Dachshund From Acting Aggressive to the Family's Toddler

For this Omaha dog training session we were called in to work with Riley, a 5 year-old Dachshund (Pictured here on the left with his roomies Daisy and Ely, with Phoebe’s paws in the back, lol) who has started acting aggressive to the family’s baby daughter since she started walking.

Riley barked up quite a storm when I first arrived. I was able to use some Dog Behavior tricks to help him calm down and stop barking; no direct eye contact, ignored him until he was calm, then leaving treats on the ground to motivate him to approach me and refrained from reaching out or trying to pet him when he did.

I learned none of the dogs knew any commands, had no rules, were never walked and were limited in movement due to baby gates. This is not a good combination when you have a young child who is has just started to walk.

Why are Dogs Aggressive Towards Kids?

I think the Riley was acting aggressive to the baby due to her newfound bipedal mobility combined with an inability to move away from her when he felt cornered.

His guardians were concerned at the dog’s growling and nipping and had been telling him no or disagreeing with his growls, air bites and teeth bearing. While this seems logical to humans, its one of the worst things you can do. But these are ways the dog communicates “I dont like that,” “I disagree,” or “I feel threatened.” If you were afraid of soemthing and when you spoke up, the people around you told you to shut up; that wouldnt stop your feeling of fear or being trapped. In fact, it would likely make it worse.

The lesson many dogs learn from being corrected when they growl or bear their teeth is that warnings are punished. This causes many dogs to go straight to a bite next time and stop warning. So you should never correct, disagree or punish a dog for growling or bearing teeth. Instead, find a way to increase the distance between the dog and whatever its not happy with.

Dogs have a fight or flight respnse when they feel insecure or threatened. Not giving Riley an escape route was likely causing him to feel cornered. Since the living room is cozy and the baby gates block his ability to leave the room, I decided to show the family how to teach a dog to move away from the baby. Giving dogs an option to go to a safe place the baby cant reach is so important. You can learn how to train a dog to move away from a baby, or teach a dog to go to a safe place by watching the free positive dog training video below.

When you have a baby too young to know to give dogs space, its crucial that parents create a safe situation for the dog, giving it the ability to move away anytime it feels the need. This way the dog doesnt feel the need to defend or protect itself by nipping. Teaching a dog to move away from a baby, or rewarding it when it does so on its own is very wise.

While the dog nipping the baby was the most important issue the guardians wanted to work on, there is a big contributing factor at play; none of the dogs knew any commands. This almost always results in a lack of confidence which can cause anxiety and stress that can lead to many unwanted dog behavior problems.

I gave the guardians a clicker and suggested they trade off teaching all of the dogs a new trick or command each week until they know 10 or more commands. This will boost the dog’s confidence, help them see the humans acting more like leaders and give the humans 10 ways to distract or redirect their dogs.

Socializing your dog early on is crucial, not only with other canines but also with humans, including children and toddlers. If your dog displays aggression towards toddlers, it’s likely because they’re unfamiliar and possibly fearful of them. This can sometimes manifest as territorial or fear aggression.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to feel uneasy around kids, especially when they make sudden movements that can startle or intimidate them. Watch out for your dog’s cut off signals, such as baring teeth, growling, or trying to withdraw. These are clear signs that your dog is saying, “I’m not comfortable with this.”

As a guardian, it’s your responsibility to stand up for your dog. Ensure they’re never cornered, especially by unfamiliar individuals, and avoid reprimanding them if they’re signaling discomfort.

To help the guardians remember all the positive dog training tips we covered in this in home dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success session summary video that you can check out below.

Dog aggressive towards kids? Click here for help
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This post was written by: David Codr