Why Do Dogs Bark at Children?
It’s no secret that dogs bark and they do so for a wide variety of reasons. A random bark here and there usually isn’t an issue.
Excessive barking, however, can be obnoxious or even cause anxiety for a pet parent. This is particularly true if your dog barks at children, which is a much more common occurrence than you might think.
Having a dog that barks at kids can be embarrassing and dangerous, which is why it’s so important to address the root cause of your dog’s reaction. Let’s look at a few of the main reasons for why do dogs bark at children.
Not Enough Socialization
During the first few months of owning a puppy, they typically encourage dog owners to keep their pups away from places where other dogs might be until they’ve received all of their vaccines.
However, this can mean your puppy misses a large chunk of their early socialization window, leading them to be fearful of people. Children can be particularly triggering for an unsocialized dog, as they may not realize it’s inappropriate to run up to an animal they don’t know.
If your dog is barking at a child out of fear, you may notice cowering body language and a desire to move away from the trigger. However, if your dog seems excited and is actively trying to move closer to the child while barking, this is likely coming from a place of curiosity and frustration they’re being held back.
Though curiosity is less likely to lead to aggressive behaviors like snarling or biting, your dog’s frustration-barking might still make the child fearful or uncomfortable.
A Bad Experience
If you’ve had your dog since puppyhood and know they had a negative experience with a child in their past, you’re likely not confused about your dog’s typical reaction toward children.
If you adopted your pup as an adult, you might not be aware of this history. So if your dog is reactive around children, it may be because they had a bad experience with a child in the past that has stuck with them over time.
What Can I Do About It?
When your dog barks at kids, it’s more than just embarrassing; it can affect where you can take your dog and when, which is inconvenient and bothersome. Luckily, there are a few effective ways to reduce this behavior based on what you think the root cause of your dog’s barking might be.
Avoid the Situation
The simplest solution to excessive barking is to avoid coming into contact with whatever triggers your dog. If kids trigger your pup, avoiding places where there will be lots of kids around is the easiest way to keep your dog relaxed.
However, this may not be the most realistic option if you have kids yourself or have close family members or friends with kids.
Train a Responsive Behavior
When your dog is triggered to bark excessively at something due to excitement or frustration, get in the habit of redirecting your pup’s attention back to yourself. You can do this by giving them a command with the promise of a treat.
Over time, your dog will develop more positive feelings around the trigger and exhibit fewer reactive behaviors.
Acknowledge Your Dog’s Reaction
In some cases, your dog might bark at kids for the same reason they bark at the mailman or another dog across the street: they’re simply trying to alert you of a potential threat.
In a situation like this, acknowledging your dog that you see what they see and that everything is okay will allow them to feel calm enough to stop barking.
Use a No-Shock Bark Collar
If your dog’s barking at kids comes from a place of excitement and wanting to play, a no-shock bark collar may help. It will allow you to communicate to your dog that, while enthusiasm is okay, barking is not.
Bark collars emit a warning beep when your dog begins to bark excessively, followed by a light vibration if they don’t stop the behavior. This sensation is not painful but is uncomfortable enough that your dog will want to quiet down in order to avoid it.