Signs Your Dog Is Uncomfortable With a Child

dog with a child

As a dog owner, it's your responsibility to maintain the safety of both your pet and young children. And it's important to recognize the signs your dog is uncomfortable with children.

Left unchecked, these moments can become dangerous. But learning how to spot the signs of an aggressive, uncomfortable, or anxious dog can ensure everyone's safety.

There are subtle signs and body language cues that indicate your dog is not at ease.

child laying with a dog on the floor

8 Signs your dog is uncomfortable around children

Some of these signs may be more subtle or harder to pick up on than others, but they can all be important indications that your dog needs space.

If you notice that your family dog is turning their head away from a child, stepping away from them, showing whale eyes, or growling, it's important to give them space to escape the situation.

Here are 8 warning signs your dog is uncomfortable around children.

1. Your dog turns their head

two kids playing with a white dog

When your dog turns their head in the presence of a child, it could be a sign that they're feeling uneasy.

It's important to recognize this behavior and keep your dog away from children if they're showing signs of discomfort.

Ignoring this could lead to aggression and potentially dangerous situations. So, pay attention to your dog's head to keep both your dog and those around them safe.

2. Steps away

If your dog is feeling anxious or scared, his first instinct might be to get away from whatever or whoever is intimidating or bothering him.

If your child approaches a dog in this state and the dog takes a step back, folds his ears back, and tucks his tail under, it's a clear indication that the dog would prefer to be left alone.

3. Whale eyes

dog showing whale eyes

Understanding a dog's body language is key to being a responsible and caring pet owner.

It's important to recognize the subtle cues that dogs use to communicate discomfort or anxiety.

One such cue is when a dog's eyes reveal the white portion around the rims or corners.

While it may be less obvious than other behaviors, such as growling or barking, this is a sign that your dog is feeling nervous and needs some space.

Learn more in our article Whale Eye in Dogs: What Does It Mean?.

4. Yawning

sending you. While it may be adorable to see your small children laughing at a yawning dog, it’s important to understand that this behavior is often a sign of stress.

5. Stiff posture

dog with stiff posture

As a pet parent, it's important to understand and recognize all the signals that our dogs give us.

While some may be subtle, others are more obvious - such as when a dog's whole body stiffens.

This is an unmistakable sign of extreme stress, and it's critical that we take action immediately.

If your child encounters a dog in this state, it's important for them to understand that the dog is upset and that they should leave it alone at once.

6. Lip licking

Have you ever noticed your dog licking his lips repeatedly when he's in a new or uncomfortable situation? It may be surprising, but this behavior is a clear indication that your dog is feeling anxious or nervous.

Ignoring the behavior and allowing your dog to calm down on his own will help him feel more comfortable and relaxed in the long run.

7. Ears are pinned back

If you notice that your own dog has their ears pinned back, it might be a sign that they are feeling anxious or stressed.

This could ultimately lead to aggression if they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

8. Growling

aggressive dog growling

If there comes a time where a dog growls during a child's interaction, it's crucial to separate them immediately and figure out what caused the dog to become uncomfortable.

This may involve identifying specific triggers, such as loud noises or sudden movements, or it could simply signify that the dog needs some time alone to calm down.

No matter what the cause may be, it's crucial to treat the situation with care and respect for both the child and the dog, in order to create a safe and peaceful environment for everyone involved.

Bottom line

Now that you're aware of the key signs of your dog's discomfort around children, you’ll be ready to handle any situation.

You should never force your pet to interact with children or remain in an uncomfortable environment.

To ensure everyone’s safety, listen carefully to your dog’s body language and back off whenever any cues of unease are displayed.

Finally, remember that if you force your pet into an uncomfortable situation, it could lead to them having further anxiety issues down the line.

As long as you stay vigilant and follow the advice here, you will be one step closer to understanding your dog and creating a safe and comfortable environment for all.

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By Tory Johnson

Tory Johnson is a veteran dog trainer, dog behaviorist, and canine nutritionist with 10+ years experience.

Tory has helped countless families have beautiful relationships with their canine companions.

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