Chowwelfare transparent 2

Chows and Children

a collection of excellent articles by trainer Karen Privitello

In a perfect world, all Chows would have been bred by responsible, knowledgeable breeders, be properly socialized and trained, and be friendly to all manner of people. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and many Chows have an unknown genetic background and lack the skills necessary to cope appropriately and acceptably with children. Whether you have children of your own or not, all Chows should be prepared for life with kids, because unless you are a hermit in Antarctica, the chances are good that your Chow will have to contend with some kids at some point in his life - whether they're your kids, or someone else's. There simply are no adult homes with no exposure to kids - everyone has neighbors, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.

How big of a problem are dog bites? A 1996 article that appeared in Injury Prevention reported that a survey in Pennsylvania indicated that by the time children reach 12th grade, 46% of them have been bitten by a dog. Each year, an average of 4.49 million dog bites are reported with over 750,000 of them requiring medical attention*. Considering that there are over 52 million pet dogs in the United States, the overwhelming majority of dogs do not bite. The articles in this section are intended to help you take the steps necessary to make your dog safe with kids, your child safe with dogs, and advise you on the steps necessary if your Chow has shown signs of aggression towards children.

Preparing Your Chow For Kids
Steps to Prepare Your Chow for Life with Children

1. Provide your Chow with regular veterinary care. Chows should have routine veterinary care annually. This yearly visit should include a physical examination, routine vaccinations and/or titer testing (bare minimum: rabies, distemper, and parvovirus; optional: lyme, bordatella, coronavirus), and be tested for parasitic infections via stool check and heartworm test. Because hypothyroidism is common in Chows, some conscientious Chow owners also opt for annual or alternate-year thyroid testing. Spaying and neutering of pet Chows is recommended. Spaying or neutering your dog will not change your dog's basic personality or temperament, but will enable your Chow to focus on being a good companion rather than be influenced by hormonal swings. 

2. Groom your Chow regularly. Although there are no studies to support the effectiveness of this technique in preventing dog bites, daily grooming takes only a few moments of your time and is an easy way for your Chow to learn the pleasures of being touched. Your Chow will become accustomed to being handled. Being combed and brushed daily takes only a few moments and prevents grooming from being a chore disdained by both dog and owner by preventing mats and tangles which can be painful for the Chow and time consuming for the owner to remove. During the grooming session, the owner should also check the dogs ears, eyes and mouth - these are favorite targets of kiddie fingers and your dog must learn to have them touched. If you don't know how to clean your Chow's ears or brush your Chow's teeth, ask your veterinarian to teach you.

3. Take your Chow to obedience classes. Although many owners feel confident that they can train their dogs at home themselves, the fact is that dogs which have not attended group obedience classes are nearly twice as likely to bite as those that have. In fact, only 25% of the biting dogs in the study had any obedience training at all!* Attending group classes provides your Chow with socialization skills and enables you to redirect your Chow using a simple command such as sit, down, down-stay, or come if you sense that your dog is about to engage in an inappropriate behavior.

4. Put your Chow on a Workfare Program. A "Workfare Program" reinforces to your dog that you are the leader in a non-confrontational way. Your Chow learns that performing simple tasks and following household rules are a way of life so that when you assert yourself your dog is accustomed to taking direction from you. Click here for a sample workfare program.

5. Crate Train your Chow. Even if your Chow is not a puppy, no home with children should be without a crate. The crate serves as a safe haven for your pet when he is tired or worried or when you are too busy to properly supervise him.

6. Socialize your Chow with children. It's a sad fact that many Chow owners neglect socialization. We mistakenly believe that if the dog is good with adults, it will also be fine with children or that he'll make a better watchdog if he's isolated from strangers. The truth is that a good watchdog knows the difference between "normal" visitors and activities and those that are not - and he learns those differences through socialization. Your Chow should accept anyone that you, his owner, accepts - from the mailman, to the repair people, to friends and family. These people act quite differently than someone who means your family or your belongings harm. Children do not act like adults and probably are not viewed by your Chow as "little people." They scream, poke, prod, stare, wave their arms, trip over themselves, run and act like, well, they act like kids. Socialization with children should start with a single, calm, well-behaved child and gradually encompass the full range of child behavior as the Chow shows acceptance of more mature kids. See Socialization and Socializing the Shy Chow for more information.

7. Refrain from playing or teaching aggressive games. Games like "tug-of-war" teach your dog to "move fast, bite hard, don't let go." The jerky movements of the tug object correspond with the jerky movements of toddlers and preschoolers and you don't want your Chow to treat little kids like tug toys. Other unacceptable games include chase games and wrestling games. Better games for dogs are fetch games, tricks such as giving paw, and "find it" games. These types of games teach your dog to play in a spirit of co-operation rather than using strength.

8. If you think your Chow is showing signs of aggression, get help immediately. Healthy dogs do not "turn on" their owners. Chows which eventually bite have generally been giving warning signs that the bite was brewing for quite a long time - sometimes years. It is easy to dismiss bad behavior because your dog has so many redeeming qualities and is a "good" dog most of the time. Not every dog will display every warning sign, but most of them will have given several indications that aggression is on the way. The following "sinister signs" appear in the book Childproofing Your Dog by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson:

1. Dog Ignores Known Commands. Your dog has better hearing than you; he didn't not hear you -- he's ignoring you. Although most times it's just a bad habit that the owner has fostered by repeating commands, it can be that your dog thinks he's the head of your household and doesn't have to obey. This dog needs to be on a workfare program and back in obedience school. 

2. Dog refuses to lie down or roll on his side. Lying down is a submissive posture and lying on his side is the most submissive of all. This position is necessary for proper grooming of the belly, and a dog that refuses to do so may be showing signs of dominance. A dog which tenses up or growls when asked to lie down or which does so when you try to position him in a down is already aggressive. 

3. Dog mounts the owner or children. Mounting is a sign of dominance and although female dogs can and do mount, this behavior is more common among males. It has nothing to do with sex - it's about power and is neither funny nor acceptable. Although dominance itself does not predict aggression, when a dog behaves dominantly towards you, he is definitely headed in that direction.

4. Dog bumps into owner or children. Dogs deliberately and literally "push around" creatures it feels are below them in the family hierarchy. These dogs rush doors, race past you on the steps, and often drag you down the street. Sometimes it is lack of training or rules, but if your dog has been trained, it need a refresher course. Dogs should sit and wait for permission to go through doorways and up steps. Older children ("older" depends on the maturity of the child) can also work on commands.

5. Dog refuses to yield the "right of way". Whether the dog is lying on the floor or asleep on a piece of furniture it should move without complaint when asked. A dog which grumbles, tenses, or simply refuses to move is giving you a warning. The number of times that people justify such behavior as "he was sitting on his chair" is staggering. It isn't his chair - it's yours. He has no right to tell you that you can't sit on it!

6. Dog stops eating or chewing when approached. A dog which stops eating or playing and comes to you is not necessarily a problem. The dog that gets tense, stares at you, moves himself between you and the object, or vocalizes (bark, growl, etc.) is. This is a display of possessiveness and his potential to bite to protect what he feels is his.  If the dog behaves that way with an adult, he'll be worse with kids. As with furniture, food and toys are things you've provided - they belong to you, not the dog.

7. Dog hides under furniture. Frightened dogs are just as risky as dominant ones. Scared dogs often choose to retreat rather than bite, but if they can't retreat, they will bite. Such dogs need training to build their confidence and teach them to relax.

8. Dog growls, grumbles, etc. All growls are warnings. It is true that there is "play growling" which is meant in fun but all other growls are serious and should be taken seriously. Some dogs are incredibly patient and growl for years before finally making good on their threats. If your dog is growling, you need immediate professional help for you and your dog. Growling doesn't get better on its own - it eventually gets worse. The sooner you address it, the better the chances that the dog will never act on his threat.

If your dog is showing any signs of potential aggression you should act immediately. If a family member had signs of a life threatening illness, you'd get immediate help - and the best kind you could find - you wouldn't try to treat it yourself. A dog showing signs of aggression has a life threatening illness so please afford him the same resources you would your other family members - immediate help, the best you can find, and don't try to treat it yourself. Your dog's life depends on it!

Preparing Your Chow For A Newborn

Although newborns can do little to provoke a dog, they are sometimes the targets of canine aggression. Because babies are so fragile and helpless, these injuries are more likely to be of a serious nature. In one study, which examined dog bite fatalities between 1989 and 1994, it was reported that 18 children under the age of one year had been killed by dogs and in the majority of them (11 out of 18), the infant was sleeping. In all but one case, the dog was on his owner's property. A disproportionate number of these deaths were babies less than 30 days old (33%).* Even one infant death at the mouth of a dog is too many. These additional suggestions are adapted from Becoming Best Friends, by Jane E. Leon, DVM & Lisa D. Horowitz:

Before the Baby Arrives

1. Adjust your dog's routine. Dogs are creatures of habit and are happiest with a regular schedule of meals, naps, and activities. Your routine will change when your baby arrives. Try to anticipate what the changes will be and make the corresponding changes in your Chow's routine now so there will be minimal upheaval when your baby is present. Examples of changes you might make:

-Make the "nursery" off limits to a Chow whose always had run of the house

-Change your dog's feeding and exercise times

-Teach the Chow to stay out of the kitchen in a "down stay" during meal times

These are just some possibilities. Try to make the changes ones that will benefit your family after the baby arrives so that you aren't dealing with a newborn and a confused or unhappy Chow later.

2. Acclimate your Chow to new activities. When your baby arrives there will be new sights, sounds, & smells. It is least stressful for everyone to expose the dog to them before your baby comes home. A lifesize baby doll is suggested to peform the following exercises:

-Hold the doll in your arms while having the dog perform simple obedience commands.

-Put the doll in your baby backpack while practicing obedience exercises with your dog.

-Push the doll in your baby stroller while walking the dog.

-Put the doll in a car seat and the Chow in a doggie seat belt and take them for a car ride. Note that the baby should be in the front seat and the dog in the back or vice versa for maximum safety.

-Have your Chow hold a sit-stay or a down-stay while you diaper the doll.

-Have the Chow hold a sit-stay or a down-stay while you bathe the doll.

-Pretend to feed the doll as you would a newborn and in the high chair you will eventually use.

Remember to insist that your Chow behave in the manner you will want it to if you were feeding a real baby. Don't forget to throw food on the floor like a baby would.

Again, these are just some examples - you are encouraged to think of and train for other situations that you might encounter. Do not, under any circumstance, use the doll as a toy with your dog!!!!

3. Acclimate your Chow to the sounds of babies and children. It is suggested in some sources that the sound of a baby crying may cause dogs with a high prey drive (dogs that like to hunt cats, squirrels, rabbits, etc.) to attack a baby which perhaps sounds to them like a wounded animal. In my research, I found a CD entitled Sound Sensibilities: Children CD by Terry Ryan (an icon in the dog trainer's world) that was designed for desensitizing dogs to the sounds of children. This CD is available at

4. Introduce your Chow to the smells associated with newborns. Every new parent has an assortment of baby powder, baby shampoo, ointments, and dirty diapers. Your dog should be introduced to these smells before your child comes home so that your dog is not unduly drawn to the baby via the new scents. Since the baby hasn't come home yet, the authors of "Becoming Best Friends" suggests that you soak the diapers in ammonia (which is a component of urine) and place them in your diaper pail. Using these "soiled" diapers, teach your Chow to avoid the diaper pail the same way you want him to avoid your trash containers. 

5. Install a screen door on the nursery. The screen door has numerous advantages over conventional doors that are found on most bedrooms. First, you can see through it. Second, it is easier to hear the baby. Third, your Chow will be able to see and hear the baby to acclimate to it without being in direct contact with your baby. Ideally the door should be hinged so that it opens into the hallway and not into the baby's room. This prevents accidental entry of the dog into the nursery if he discovers how to open the screen door. If the door is a half panel screen door (solid from about halfway down and screened from about halfway up) it is safer than one which is a full screen. If the door is full screen (screening top to bottom) you should invest in a "screen guard" which can be attached to the door to prevent the dog from going through the screen. The screen door is safer than a baby gate which can be knocked over or jumped by your Chow.

After the Baby is Born

Once the baby has been born, there are some additional steps you'll want to take to ensure that the initial meeting of child and Chow is as anti-climactic as possible. Because the new mother is likely still in the hospital with the baby, it may be necessary to enlist the baby's father or a friend or relative the dog knows to assist with these last few steps.

1. Introduce the dog to the baby's scent using a blanket that your infant has used. Let the dog sniff the blanket - do not let the dog play with it! Once the Chow has lost interest in the blanket, wrap it around the doll you used previously for training and repeat the activities in section 2 above. Ideally, these activities should take place at least one day before the baby and new mother come home. Yes, this is a hectic time, and surely you feel the baby is more important than your dog, however, your baby will be safer and you & your dog will be better prepared if someone has taken the time to run through one more training session with your Chow.

2. Immediately prior to the arrival of the mother and new baby, the Chow should be taken for a long walk or run. Your Chow will be somewhat less excited and calmer when Mom and baby arrive. The dog will likely be extremely happy to see his mistress, who may have been away from home for a day or more in the hospital.

3. "Dad" or another relative, should take charge of the baby so Mom can greet the dog alone. As mentioned previously, the dog will likely be anxious and excited to greet his mistress. If the Chow misbehaves by jumping her, the baby could be injured accidentally if it is in Mom's arms.

4. After the homecoming excitement has died down, introduce the baby and Chow on "neutral territory." Chows are often quite protective of their homes and yards. To minimize protective or territorial behavior, it is best if the child and dog meet at the home of a friend or neighbor. Start with the baby in the arms of a one parent at a safe distance from the Chow who is being handled by the other parent. The Chow should hold a sit as the other parent and child slowly approach. Depending on the reaction of the dog, this could take just a few minutes - or be stretched out over a period of several days if the Chow is overly excited or agitated or if either parent is uncomfortable with the way the dog is reacting. The dog should be praised and petted only if it is acting completely calm. The Chow should be allowed to sniff the baby when it is calm and you are completely comfortable that the Chow is mildly curious and nothing more. Do not allow the Chow to sniff or lick the baby's face. When the meeting has passed, the family (dog included) can walk home together. If the meeting did not go well, take the baby home first, then the other parent follows with the dog who will be isolated from the child until the next training session. 

The "Baby" Stage

Most dogs adjust fine, but some do not. You should be cautious if your Chow has ever exhibited predatory behavior (hunting) in the past since the sounds and movements of infants may be mistaken by the dog for those of an animal. Remember that sleeping infants accounted for over half of the infant fatalities caused by dogs. 

1. Never, ever, leave any dog alone with any baby or any child. If you can't supervise your Chow, crate him, even if your attention will only be diverted for a minute.

2. Synchronize attention. Many new parents shower their dog with attention when the baby is napping and pay little attention to the dog when the baby is present. This teaches your Chow that having the baby around is a bad situation since any positive attention ceases upon the arrival of the infant. Under these circumstances, a dog learns to resent the baby. Instead, all good things happen only when the baby is present. Examples of synchronized attention (for safety, one parent supervises the dog, the other supervises the child):

- Feed the Chow after the baby has been fed, but feed the Chow with the baby in the same room. 

- Groom the Chow with the baby in the same room.

- Take the dog for a walk when the baby goes out in the stroller. One parent handles the dog, the other the stroller. Do not carry the baby in your arms while walking the dog. Do not tie the leash to the stroller. Bad things could happen if your dog were to bolt with the child in your arms or with his lead tied to the stroller.

- If your Chow has reliable obedience skills, it can accompany you while you attend to "baby chores." If he does not, use your dog's crate or put the dog outside. Keep in mind that doing so does not teach your Chow how to behave properly in the presence of your baby. If possible, a family member can handle the dog to teach him how you want him to behave while you tend to chores.

Again, these are just some situations you can use to teach your Chow to accept your newest family member. You may think of others. In doing so, consider carefully what could go wrong and how you will prevent these things from happening.

3. Prepare your dog for babysitters. If possible, you should select several sitters in advance of actually needing one and arrange for a meeting of the sitter and your dog. It would be best if the sitter likes dogs and will abide by your rules concerning the dog. At the very least, make sure that your dog will behave in his crate with a sitter present and you absent.

4. Maintain the workfare program and daily obedience training. It is easy to get lazy when everything seems to be working well. If the workfare program and daily obedience are part of your routine, you will be less likely to abandon them. Each stage that your child grows through will present new challenges for your Chow. Maintaining the workfare program and daily obedience training keeps it clear to your Chow that you are still the leader and minimizes the chances that your Chow decides that your family needs a new one.

5. Continue to socialize your Chow with children of all ages. Although your child is still a baby, he won't be one forever, and more frequently, problems with kids and Chows don't start until the child gets mobile.

Chows, Crawling Babies & Toddlers

Since dogs don't speak our language, we have no way of knowing how the Chow really views kids, but most experts believe that dogs don't see children as "little people." Children just don't behave like adults. They scream, poke, prod, stare, wave their arms (sometimes for balance), trip over themselves, and basically act like ... well, they act like kids. Many folks mistakenly believe that because a dog "likes people" it will also like kids. Some do, some don't. Likewise, the Chow that accepted the newborn without difficulty may or may not accept the crawling baby or toddler. Children between the ages of 1 and 4 years account for the greatest percentage of fatalities from dog bites than any other group in nearly every study on dog bite fatalities. In one notable study, boys were the victims twice as often as girls: in the five years between 1989 and 1994, 18 boys between the ages of 1 and 4 years were killed by dogs; only 9 girls were killed during the same period in that age group.* Because most dog bites go unreported, it isn't possible to ascertain whether or not children in this age group also sustain the greatest overall percentage of dog bites, but it is probably reasonable to assume that they do.

The Culture Clash

Newborns spend most of their time napping, eating, playing with fingers and toes, and engage in other activities that do not actively threaten the dog. The mobile child is another story. This kid can be a source of annoyance or be viewed as an aggressor. It is helpful to understand that dogs have their own culture - and it is distinctly canine, not human. The "rules" of canine culture often conflict so strongly with our own human culture that it is a wonder we choose to live with each other at all. Here are some of the more common culture conflicts that lead to problems:

1. Leadership:

Human Culture: At least in this part of the world, democracy and equality are considered the ideal. We believe that "all men are created equal" and that decisions should be made jointly. Although we have a president to be our leader, we all voted (or had the opportunity to vote) to choose who would make decisions on our behalf.

Canine Culture: Each family group (called a "pack") has a clear leader. The leader makes the rules and everyone else follows them - a structure which more closely resembles life in the military. In the absence of a clear and consistent human leader, the dog is compelled to accept the role and handle it as best he can. Unfortunately, in our world, dogs don't always make good decisions because their culture is different from ours. For simplicity's sake, we consider this hierarchy to be linear (everyone has a rank) but as a practical matter, this is seldom the case. More often, the dog has a dominant or submissive relationship with each individual member of the pack. Further, although this is commonly referred to as a "dominance hierarchy" - dominance is often achieved through attrition - no one else seems to want the role. Dogs which have adopted the dominant role determine what they will and will not do, control resources, claim territory, etc. 
Potential Problems: The list is nearly endless but some of the more common indicators:

- Dog is possessive of food and/or toys.

- Dog will claim "places" - a favored chair, your bed, etc. and will not move when asked.

- Dog will object to being handled in ways it doesn't like - for example, having feet handled, being groomed, having ears cleaned, etc.

- Dog will bump into people in its way - for example, rush past you on the steps or when going through doorways.

Good leadership is not accomplished by brute force. Dominance is primarily a mental issue. A good leader presents the options of his choice by making it the most attractive alternative.

Examples of good leadership techniques for living with dogs are presented and explained in the Workfare Program.

2. Eye Contact:

Human Culture: It is considered rude to not acknowledge a person who is speaking to you. It is also considered rude to stare. 

Canine Culture: A stare is a challenge. Lower ranking individuals show submission, in part, by averting their gaze. If neither dog breaks eye contact, a "discussion" or fight ensues until one dog is "top dog" and the other assumes the role of "underdog".

Potential Problem: The line between looking and staring is a fine one and children often do not understand the difference. They frequently stare at people, animals, or objects they are curious about. When a child stares at a dog, the dog responds according to the rules of his canine culture and will react in one of three ways:

- The friendly, well socialized dog will ignore the stare or look away and approach in a friendly manner.

- The fearful dog will generally attempt to leave the area, but if that is not possible, may react defensively with aggression.

- The dominant dog will most often treat the child like an unschooled puppy with an aggressive display. If that is not effective, the display will escalate.  Look closely at the following series of pictures:


They show a mother dog disciplining her puppy as it approaches her food bowl. In this sequence, the puppy approaches and the mother stiffens. When the puppy continues to approach, the hackles on her back (the hair over her shoulders) go up and she makes direct eye contact. The puppy doesn't recognize what this means and continues to approach. The mother snarls. Note the position of the tail - from relaxed and down, it is gradually getting higher. Having now ignored the mother's final warning, the puppy is now the recipient of an alpha roll by its mother. Frightened, the puppy retreats. This same sequence of events may occur when a child approaches a dog that is eating or has a toy, except that instead of being "alpha rolled", the child is bitten. 

3. Laws of Possession:

Human Culture: "I bought it, it's mine." This is a concept that is taught. Anyone who has spent time with children recognizes that their interpretation is closer to: "I want it, it's mine."

Canine Culture: "I have it, it's mine." 

Potential Problem: In the dog world, possession is 9/10ths of the law. Unless the Chow has been taught to accept the approach of people when he has a treasured resource (toy, food, article of furniture), he will attempt to treat people who get too close as if they were other dogs and is most likely to defend items in his possession as seen in the picture series above.

4. Sleeping:

Human Culture: We have no hard and fast rules, but we will all agree that there are people who just "don't do mornings." Although we'd prefer these folks were amiable, we develop strategies to deal with "Grumpy."

Canine Culture: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Although dogs have been domesticated for centuries, they retain the instincts of their ancestors. A sleeping dog in the wild is vulnerable, and if it is awakened by another animal, it is likely to be a life threatening situation. 

Potential Problem: Dogs that are startled out of sleep frequently awaken abruptly in "defensive" mode and react with defensive aggression.

These are just a few examples that illustrate how the instincts of a dog conflict with our expectations of them in the human world. We have a general misconception that because we've invited dogs to live with us, they're automatically going to accept the rules of our society as they apply to them. The truth is that we expect our dogs to behave better than we would under analogous circumstances. The amazing part is that most of the time, we can teach dogs to behave better than we would!

The S.A.F.E. Program

The S.A.F.E. Program is described by author Brian Kilcommons, in his book "Childproofing Your Dog". Although I've chosen to describe it in this section about crawling babies and toddlers, it really is applicable to all children. The S.A.F.E. Program has 4 parts:

1. Supervise. As the author states "out of sight is into trouble." Dogs and kids should never be left unsupervised together. If you can't watch your child and your dog, even for a moment, physically separate them.

2. Anticipate problems before they happen. The list given above in the Culture Clash section gives you an idea of some of the situations where problems are more likely to occur - dogs being stared at, kids approaching dogs with food or toys, dogs being awakened or tripped on by kids, etc. Manage your dog to minimize mishaps. For example: feed your Chow in his crate and keep your child away from the crate. Recognize the early warning signs that something is amiss (see Preparing Your Chow for Life with Kids for a list of potential problems).

3. Follow through. Say what you mean and make sure it happens. This applies equally to your child - not just the dog. If you told the Chow to "sit", make sure he does. If you can't reliably get your Chow to sit on the first command, keep his leash on when he's being supervised so you can make sure he sits when told. Take the leash off only when your dog is unattended (you are not home) or when he is in his crate. Similarly, if you told your child to "Leave the doggie alone" make sure your child does leave the dog alone. Use a playpen if necessary.

4. Educate. The entire family must be educated. Obviously, you're attempting to educate yourself, or you wouldn't be reading this. Encourage friends and relatives to educate themselves as well. It is difficult for an adult to properly instruct a child if the adult doesn't have proper information. For example, most people are more likely to approach a dog displaying dominant body language than a dog displaying submissive body language and wrongly believe that the submissive dog is more likely to bite than the more dominant one.** In fact, the submissive dog is less likely to bite. If you are one of the millions of people who assume that a wagging tail indicates the dog is friendly, you are likely to teach your child something that will endanger his well-being around dogs! To learn about canine body language, go to our page entitled: Crash Course for Kids (and Adults). 

Knowledge of canine body language is necessary not only to properly instruct your child, but also to properly instruct your Chow. Don't be afraid to get professional help for your dog from either a good trainer or a board certified veterinary behaviorist.

Aggression is a life-threatening problem; if family member other than your dog had a life-threatening problem, you wouldn't hesitate to get appropriate professional assistance. Afford your dog the same consideration. Your child's well-being and your Chow's life depend on it. A good trainer or veterinary behaviorist has more experience than you and will be able to give you feedback - something a book or a website can not do. In one study that looked at risk factors associated with biting dogs it was discovered that dogs whose owners attempted to train their dogs themselves were twice as likely to bite as those who sought professional help.***


Pediatrics, Vol. 93, No. 6, June 1994, pages 913-917. Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Sudy of Risk Factors by Kenneth A. Gershman, MD, MPH; Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; and John C. Wright, PhD.

Childproofing Your Dog, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. New York: Warner Books, 1994.

Pediatrics, Vol. 97, No. 6, June 1996. Fatal Dog Attacks, 1989-1994, by Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Randall Lockwood, PhD; Janet Hornreicht; and Richard W. Sattin, MD.

Becoming Best Friends by Jane E. Leon, DVM and Lisa D. Horowitz. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1993.

Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby by Victoria L. Voith, DVM, PHd and Peter L. Borchelt, PHd. Newport, Kentucky: Heinz Pet Products, 1998. 

*Pediatrics, Vol. 97, No. 6, June 1996. Fatal Dog Attacks, 1989-1994, by Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Randall Lockwood, PhD; Janet Hornreicht; and Richard W. Sattin, MD.

**Readings in Companion Animal Behavior, Victoria L. Voith, DVM, PhD & Peter L. Borchelt, PhD., editors. (Trenton, New Jersey: Veterinary Learning Systems: 1996) page245. The specific article that appeared: Canine Aggression: Dog Bites to People by John C. Wright, PhD. It referenced another related article: The Effects of Dog Ownership on Judgments of Dog Bite Likelihood by S.P. Moss and J. C. Wright that appeared in Anthrozoos 1:95-99, 1987.

***Pediatrics, Vol. 93, No. 6. June 1994. Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors by Kenneth A. Gershman, MD, MPH; Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH, and John C. Wright, PhD.

Childproofing Your Dog by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. (New York: Warner Books, 1994) page 42.

Photo credit:  Dog Language: An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior, by Roger Abrantes (Illinois: Wakan Tanka Publishers, 1997).

© 2003 Karen Privitello, all rights reserved; reprinted here with permission. Contact Vicki for reprint permission.

Related reading:

Help! My Puppy Bites!

Who's In Charge Here? A Lesson in Becoming Alpha

Obedience Classes For Your Dog

Socializing Your Chow Chow