Loves Kids, Hates Adults

My dog loves kids. He’s great with my two boys (4 and 6) and all of their friends. But he’s really uncomfortable with adults. He often growls when a parent comes over to pick up their child after a playdate.

One mom won’t let her son play here anymore. How can I make these parents understand that that Sparta would never hurt their kids?
~ Gail

Gail: Get a trainer to help—soon! You need to work on changing his emotional state so that he enjoys having people come over, regardless of their age.

When Sparta growls, he’s warning that he could become aggressive, so it’s very important that you work with a professional to help you design a behavior-modification plan. You’ll use a combination of training and management techniques to prevent Sparta from feeling the need to growl.

We all get better at what we practice, so don’t let him practice growling at your guests. When you are unable to train, put Sparta in another room. Don’t punish him for growling though. We do not want to eliminate his warnings; we want to change how he feels about adults.

This is a very serious issue. Even though Sparta is gentle and kind with children, it’s completely understandable that parents would be uncomfortable about having their kids play at your house. I wouldn’t let my kids go to a house where a dog growled at me. So, enlist the services of a good dog trainer and get to work. Otherwise you may find that all playdates happen at other homes.

About the Author

Living with kids and dogs is a lot of work! But when things are going well, a dog can be your child's best friend. That experience is a wonderful gift for any child and well worth the effort involved. Got a question? Let's talk!

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