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Why Does My Dog Bark At Kids? 6 Possible Reasons

Dogs bark for an endless number of reasons, but when they target their vocalizations at children, it can be humiliating or cause owners anxiety.

You may wonder why your dog responds to the sight of a little human with a symphony of sounds. 

"Why Does My Dog Bark At Kids? 6 Possible Reasons" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) includes six potential causes of your dog's barking at children, as well as some solutions.

The 6 Likely Reasons Why Your Dog Barks At Kids

1. Poor Socialization

Despite the typical depictions of dogs like Lassie having picture-perfect relationships with the children in their lives, not all canines are naturally comfortable with youngsters.

Dogs that were never given the opportunity to develop acclimated to children as pups may become adult dogs that bark at youngsters. Children can be frightening to a dog since they are frequently loud, mobile, and may grab or approach without notice.

Without early exposure to children, dogs may not know how to react to them and resort to barking to frighten away the little, loud humans.

How To Resolve This Issue:

When you have a puppy, you should expose it to children of diverse ages and personalities as soon as possible. If you acquire an older dog whose background is unclear, you may still attempt socialization, but it will be more slower and more cautious.

Let the dog to become accustomed to the presence of an older, quiet youngster before introducing younger, noisier children.


2. Previous Bad Experience

Another reason your dog may bark at children is because they recall a negative encounter with a youngster in the past. Dogs have unusually strong memory, particularly for unpleasant events.

If your dog was previously shocked or injured by a child, especially during puppyhood when they are most influenced by their experiences, the memory might be recalled by the sight of another youngster, prompting them to bark.

When you socialize your puppy with children, be important to carefully watch and oversee the process to avoid any problems that might lead to your dog barking at children in the future.

How To Resolve This Issue:

Controlled early socializing might help your puppy avoid future negative experiences that could be triggered. If your dog has already developed a negative relationship with children, your best hope is to create a good association instead.

For instance, providing your dog with high-quality snacks anytime you see a child on your daily stroll. Gradually, your dog will grow to identify children with the pleasant sensation of eating goodies, as opposed to whatever traumatic event occurred in the past.


3. Resource Guarding

Your dog may bark at children due to a resource guarding habit. When a dog defends an item, such as food, toys, or a bed, they are exhibiting this behavior.

Hopefully, children who go too close to a dog’s food bowl or favorite bone will receive a warning bark (more on this later). Resource protection is an innate characteristic of wild canine cousins, such as wolves.

Maintaining their own food and area is vital for the survival of wild animals. Yet, this feature is far less acceptable in our companion dogs.

How To Resolve This Issue:

For everyone’s safety, you will likely require the assistance of a vet or trainer if your dog’s resource guarding moves from barking to Possessive Aggression. Help your new puppy prevent this issue by hand-feeding them from a young age onward.

This helps the dog to become accustomed to your handling and proximity to its meal. Even older children could join in the fun. All children should be taught to respect the dog’s territory and property. Do not permit them to play with the dog’s toys or loiter about the dog’s food dish at mealtimes.


4. Protecting Their Territory

Your dog may bark at children if it believes they are invading its area, which includes your home and yard. Some breeds, such as those bred to act as guard dogs, are considerably more protective and territorial than others. Your dog may bark to warn you of the presence of children or to attempt to frighten them away.

However, children frequently unintentionally support this behavior since they truly experience fear and flee when threatened. These acts just convince your dog that barking at the children is appropriate.

How To Resolve This Issue:

If your dog won’t stop barking at children they see outside, consider erecting a privacy fence or window coverings to restrict their vision. Your dog should be obedient when you urge it to cease barking at children who are visiting your home.

Guarding and protective breeds should be socialized and trained from a young age so that they have the emotional maturity to discriminate between a true threat to their area and a child. Lastly, remind children not to enter a strange dog’s yard without permission, especially when the owner is not around.


5. Wants To Play

If your dog sees a group of youngsters playing, he or she may bark eagerly in an attempt to join in. In this instance, the dog is barking to signal to the children that it is anxious to play with them.

If your dog has previously had pleasant contacts with youngsters and is demonstrating other positive body language, this may be the source of their barking. For instance, your dog may perk up its ears, wag its tail, or engage in dog play behaviors such as assuming the “downward dog” position or crab-walking toward the children.

How To Resolve This Issue:

If the children and the dog are compatible, let them play! To prevent encouraging the notion that barking at children results in playing, divert your dog or ask them to sit quietly before allowing them to participate in activities.

This teaches your dog that he gets what he wants when he engages in desirable actions rather than undesirable ones. If your dog cannot play with the children, teach them to be quiet on command or use the words “Leave it!” to indicate them to stop what they are doing and leave the children alone.


6. Anxiety

If your dog has generalized anxiety, it may bark at children out of fear or uneasiness. This might be due to the fact that the children serve as a trigger for a specific occurrence (as we described previously) or because they represent a shift or stress that they must manage.

Frequent barking with no apparent cause is a symptom of anxiety in dogs. If your dog has been diagnosed with anxiety or has other indicators of fear, this may be the reason of their excessive barking. Signs of anxiousness in dogs include pacing, panting, and lip licking.

How To Resolve This Issue:

Sadly, addressing this cause of barking in dogs necessitates addressing the broader issue of your dog’s fear. Nervous dogs benefit from obedience training, particularly exercises that increase confidence.

You may also need to engage in more specific training to identify and desensitize your dog’s anxiety and scared triggers. Frequently, assistance from a professional is essential to cope with a nervous dog. Similar to humans, stressed dogs might sometimes benefit from anti-anxiety medicine.

When Barking Goes Too Far: When Should You Worry About Your Dog's Behavior Towards Kids?

More than half of the more than 4.5 million persons bitten by dogs annually in the United States are children. Dogs are also more prone to cause significant injuries to children. Most children are bitten by known dogs as opposed to stray or strange canines.

When, based on these statistics, should you be concerned that your dog’s barking at children may become more serious? Around 66% of dogs who bite have no history of biting, so do not assume that your dog will not bite simply because they have never done so before.

There are indications that your dog may be prepared to do more than bark:

  • Snarling
  • Growling
  • Bringing up the hackles (hair along the back)
  • Snapping

Several dog bites occur as a result of youngsters not understanding and respecting the dog’s limits when they exhibit the behaviors outlined.

If your dog begins to exhibit these violent characteristics, you must take every measure to protect your children. Do not let your dog unattended access to youngsters. Consult an expert for assistance with training and desensitizing your dog.

Conclusion

Why Does My Dog Bark At Kids? 6 Possible Reasons” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) concludes the discussion of the six possible causes for your dog’s barking at children and what you can do about it. Ideally, you will be able to keep the peace between your dog and any children in their lives.

Bear in mind, however, that despite owners’, trainers’, and veterinarians’ best efforts, some dogs cannot live securely with children. For everyone’s protection, rehoming the dog to an area without children may be the safest option in such situations.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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