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Our 5 yr old has been hurting our dog, what do I do?

This morning he was sitting and petting her and she let out a cry, i asked him what happened and he said "i dont know". I asked him if he hurt her and he didn't answer. He started to tear up so I asked him if he pinched her. He said yes. In the past I remember her letting out a cry when he's been sitting by her and I just passed it off as him bumping her ear,(she has chronic ear infections). I asked him if he has done it before and he said yes. What do I do? I don't want him to hurt her anymore and I want to know why he would. If anyone can offer any advice it would be much appreciated... Thank you

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Asked by cheryl4martin at 12:51 PM on Dec. 18, 2008 in General Parenting

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Answers (12)
  • My 4 1/2 year old daughter does the same thing (I have a 8 pound Yorkie).. It breaks my heart that they do not play like they should. I have had to separate them..put the dog in another room. I told her teacher what was happening, so she talks to my daughter and they read books in school on how to treat animals. I have gone as far as putting soap in my daughters mouth. She still sneaks around when no one is looking, but we practice daily on how to be nice to the dog...good luck..

    Answer by Dannee at 12:54 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • My daughter is 3 and she will get in fights with our cats when the cat does something she thinks is "naughty"...last night it was over the cat chewing up her christmas ornament. Its never "unprovoked" though...she usually has a reason she thinks is good or real in her head before she gets mad at the cat. I'm not sure what to do if its just coming out of nowhere.

    Answer by kabbot01 at 1:07 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • I have thought and thought about where this could have come from. The only thing I can come up with is when he's at his Dads for a visit, they have a dog and I know how my ex was with his dog.
    He would kick it, yell at it etc. The dog was scared of him. Maybe seeing his Dad treat his dog bad has made our son think it's ok to do it. I don't know... I think I may call his pediatrician and talk with her. Maybe she will have a suggestion on how to deal with this.

    Answer by cheryl4martin at 1:19 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • If you watch siblings in action, one usually gets a kick out of making the other one upset. Its a power trip. To know you have that much control over how someone reacts. Its probably the same thing with your son and dog. He kinda digs getting the dog to make a noise.

    What I do when one of my children "torment" the other, is do it right back, and say " now that doesn't feel good does it?" He may not understand he is hurting the dog. Kinda like biting back a child who bites.

    Answer by my4lads at 1:20 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • Thats a good point,

    Answer by cheryl4martin at 1:30 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • That's what I was thinking My4lads! i was going to say it is most likely cause and effect exploration. He is starting to realize that his actions have a consequence and I would keep going with it. i would show him that the dog feels that too and ask him if he really wanted to hurt the dog. You need to explain to him that if he is mean to the dog that she could turn around and bite him because she will end up scared of him and will protect herself!

    Answer by MamaRoberts at 1:38 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • Now you know so now you can do something. You can start coaching him and doing it in a casual way of teaching him empathy and the emotional feelings of others. You could start by snuggling up to him at night and talking about feelings. Ask him what makes him happy, what makes him sad, what makes him hurt and feel bad....ect. Then explain how you have those same feelings. You can expand on it by saying how pets, animals, all living creatures also have feelings. Reinforce this many times casually. Ask often what he thinks someone if feeling. Example, you see a child at the mall crying. Explain different emotions as they occur naturally. In the mean time you need to keep in mind that him being alone with the dog or anyone who can not express themselves (young children) is not in his best interest.

    Answer by frogdawg at 1:50 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • cont...You can even buy at a teacher's outlet facial expressions for him and you to go over. Ask him what his response would be to someone who got hurt, what he would do if he saw someone crying...and teach him what you would hope his responses would be. What a good response should be. Frame it as how to be a good friend. A good friend does __________ or a good friend ____________. This way you are helping him with real world social skills as well as making sure your family animal is safe.

    Answer by frogdawg at 1:53 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • cont... Then catch him in the act of being a good friend. Catch him when he is being gentle to the dog. Kids love when they are caught for doing good things.

    Answer by frogdawg at 1:57 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

  • just tell him that he wouldnt like it if the dog bit him - and that he needs to be nice to her. just handle it like if he smacked a friend of his while playing together.
    obvioulsy its not good to have children showing violent tendencies but i dont think this is the case because of the "tearing up"
    kids need to learn boundaries for everything even when learning how to deal with the family pet.

    Answer by vakatia at 2:03 PM on Dec. 18, 2008

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