Ask the Vet Archive

Your chance to ask Dr. Mindy Cohan, VMD, our resident pet health expert, what's on your mind!

Topic: Toddler and dog

Question from Amy in Middletown:
I have a 100lb rot/lab mix who we found along the road as a 16 week old puppy and was in terriable condition. We have grown to love him very much.He recently started snapping at my 18mo old if woken.I try to watch out for this but can't always be right there.We are now moving to a much smaller location and am very worried about this behavior.Is there any suggestions to work with him on this behavior.

Answer from Dr. Mindy Cohan:
Your situation is unfortunate, but not uncommon. Most people as well as pets become annoyed when disturbed from a restful sleep. Your dog’s reaction to your toddler is of great concern. Although your dog is currently giving a warning, a bite or attack can occur at anytime.

Since your child is too young to learn to leave your dog alone, the only safe measure if to keep them separated and supervised at all times. Even keeping your dog in a crate is not safe because your child can reach arms and legs through the slats of the crate.

There is a chance that your child and dog can grow to be close friends. However, this will not happen until your child is of an age when he/she learns to respect your dog’s boundaries.

For more advice, contact the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s behavior department at or (215) 898-3347. In the meantime, do not ever permit your child and dog to be together unsupervised.

Posted March 17, 2009

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