Dogs and Kids Manners

Manners for Dogs and Kids

There are certain things that dogs and kids should do to keep the home a happy place for both. Many times a dog gets displaced (rehomed, taken to the shelter, or even euthanized) because dogs and kids can’t get along. If the dog bites a kid, the first things a parent thinks is sending the dog away. (You wouldn’t do this to a child because they didn’t understand what was expected of them!!)

Dog in a shelter.
About 10% of dogs in shelters are because they didn’t get along with kids.

Manners for the Dog to Learn

There are manners that you can teach a dog to respect you ad your family

How to teach your dog the watch me command
Make sure the dog gives you eye contact before treating or clicking.
  • You can teach the dog to look at you. This will disrupt what the dog is doing or fixating on. This is called the “Look at Me” command. It’s very simple and fun for the dog to learn. (Always make training fun for you AND the dog. This makes the dog feel like they are making you happy and makes for a tighter bond between you.)

  • Here are the steps to take:
    • Have a treat in your hand and let the dog sniff it so they know you have something yummy for them.
    • Hold the treat out straight and to the side of you. (Yes, the dog is going to look at your hand!)
    • This is the part where they have to figure out what they have to do to get the treat. (This engages their mind and makes them think!)
    • As soon as they look or even glance at you, tell them “yes” (or if using clicker training, this is the time to click) and give them a treat (preferable from the other hand).
    • You can then lengthen the time the dog looks at you. After lots of practice and repetition, the dog should look and keep eyes on you for the treat.

This is a way for the dog to always look at you. You can than start saying “Look at Me” when the dog is looking at you. You can now use this command to distract the dog from what they are doing. After the dog understands this command, you can start to tell the dog what to do next.


Now you can start teaching the dog to “Go to Place”
Dog laying comfortably on it's bed.
Teach kids that this is the dog’s space and to leave them alone if they were told to “Go to Place”.

This is where the dog has a certain place to relax and lay down. This could be their crate, a certain rug, or area away from children.

  • First, decide where their special place should be. With treats, you can lure them to the area.
  • As soon as their paws touch the area, tell them “yes” or click. They will start to associate the area or place to where they get treats!
  • When they get comfortable in the area or place and start to sit/lay down, start telling them “Place” then give them a treat when they go to their special place. (They will start to put together that when they hear “Place”, they are going to get a treat.)

Human teaching dog to stay.
The dog is looking at the owner and reading the hand signal. Owner has treats in his other hand.

The next part after “Place” is the “Stay” command. This is where they have to stay in their special place until you relieve them. (This command is more difficult for some dogs. The main point is don’t let them follow you unless you have relieved them from their “place”.

  • With the dog in their “place” and relaxing, start by saying “Stay” (you may put your hand flat like a stop sign) and backup one step. If the dog stays, say “yes” or click and toss them a treat. Then you can return back to them to release them by saying “OK” (Don’t have them come to you for the treat. This makes them think they can just leave their place without you telling them it’s ok.)
  • You can start backing up a couple more steps as long as the dog is staying in their place. Always coming back to them to treat and tell them “Free” to release.
Teaching “Release/Free” Command
Human giving the free command.

This is a hand signal for the “Release/Free”command telling them they are free to move from their space. After the dog has stayed in their place, your can wave both hands back and forth and say “Free”. Saying “OK” can confuse the dog if they hear you say the word, but you wasn’t talking to them. Example is if someone has asked you a question and you reply to them “OK”, all the dog heard was “OK” so they think they can be free from their space.


A fun and very important command is “Come”

This is when the dog will stop what they are doing and come to you. This is very practical when you want the dog away from kids or the dog decides to go running away.

Teaching Your Dog to Come/Recall
  • Begin with them on a tether (long leash) and have treats ready for when they come to you. (Tether is for when they don’t listen, you can reel them in!)
  • Start with a short distance between you. Say “Come” with treats visible and reel them towards you.
  • When they come to you, say “yes” or click and give them a treat.
  • Now try saying “Come” without reeling them in. If they come to you immediately, give them a treat. If they don’t respond right away, reel them in again and give them more treats. (This will make them think, “if I come to you, I get treats!”)
  • Once they understand this, you can have them go out further away from you and say “Come”. (As they go further away from you, you will have to make sure your voice is carrying for them to hear you.)
  • After they have this command down great, you can try without the tether. (If they regress, put the tether back on and reel them in while saying “Come” to reiterate the command.)

*You can also say their name followed by saying “Come” for example, “(Dog’s name), Come”. This should get their attention that it’s them that you are talking to.


Have you ever had a dog that pulls on the leash?

Illustration on how to have dog follow you.
Having your hand by your side with treats will make the dog want to walk with you and get treats!

There is a way that you can teach your dog to follow you and be at your side the whole time. This way you can train your dog to follow you before even putting the leash on!

  • Having treats in your hand, hold your arm to your side so the dog can smell the treats.
  • Start walking and entice the dog with the treats.
  • If the dog is following and keeps their nose at your hand, give them a treat as you are walking. (Best is to start in your house away from distractions!)
  • Walk around your house with treats and your dog following until you know your dog has grasped the idea.
  • Now you are ready to try outside. (I would recommend backyard or somewhere there aren’t a lot of distractions)
  • You are now ready to put the leash on your dog! Make sure you have enough treats to keep putting in your hand. (If you run out of treats, the dog will start to think they don’t have to be right by you and start pulling on the leash.)

Kid Manners to Teach

A Dog Is Not a Toy Talks a Dog Is Part of the Family

Kids like to play and think dogs are just toys for them. Remind children that dogs are not toys! Being a responsible parent and dog owner will make your house happy and will save you and your family from heartbreak.

For young kids, it is best to redirect them if they are mistreating or doing something the dog doesn’t like. Instead of just telling them “No, don’t do that”, you can tell them “Try doing this instead” and show them how to properly be around the dog. This way the kids can still interact with the dog in a safe manner.

Kids under the age of 5 should be taught to be gentle to dogs. No pulling on their fur, ears, tail, making the dog hug them, laying on top of the dog, running up to the dog, or sticking their fingers around the dog’s mouth. These WILL lead to biting.

You can teach how to safely pet the dog by holding onto their hand with your thumb in the middle of their hand (this is to make sure they won’t grab onto the dog or fur) and show how to gently stroke the dog. ALWAYS ACTIVELY SUPERVISE YOUND CHILDREN WITH DOGS. Accidents can happen very quickly and have dire consequences.

“Always leave a sleeping dog alone”

Dogs can startle very easily when woken up quickly and may go into “Fight” mode before they comprehend what is going on around them.

You can teach children the command “Come” by having the dog come to them and the child put the treat on the ground in front of them. (Don’t let them hand the dog the treat because the dog may accidentally bite their hand while trying to take the treat from them. Safety First!!)

If a dog is just too scared of the distraction or of children, you can toss treats AWAY from the distraction or children. This will make the dog feel more comfortable in situations and know they don’t have to participate.


5 Types of Supervision

There are 5 different types of parent supervision. What kind of supervision do you usually do when dogs and kids are together?

Diagram of types of supervision.
*The best is to be a Proactive and Active parents. When you are not watching, things can escalate quickly and become a serious situation.

Dogs are our “Fur Babies” and need to be loved, understood, and taken care of.

Published by Dogwuvr

My love of animals started when I volunteered at a humane society. From there I wanted to teach people how to take care of their precious pets and get the word out about adopting. I went to Animal Behavior College and got my Dog Obedience Certification. I have been working in veterinary clinics and give people information about dogs.

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