I get this question a lot.
Parent buys a dog for the children. The dog is a little anxious and nervous. Dog struggles to escape or avoid the playful children...one child gets too close and the dog lunges, growls or snaps at the child. Enter cue for dog trainer (me).
Is it possible for a dog that is currently displaying nervous/fearful/aggressive behavior around children eventually learn to play with them nicely? Maybe...maybe not.
We need to start from the premise that every dog is a UNIQUE being with a UNIQUE personality. Some dogs are super playful, others like to be quiet by themselves. Some dogs like to play fetch, others like to be chased. Some dogs LOVE to swim, others couldn't care less for water. Some dogs like to be petted and cuddled, others are okay by just being in the same room as you. You get the point.
As a dog trainer my philosophy is not to change a dog's personality, it is to help that dog become properly socialized around people, other pets, and environments. By this I mean my goal is simply existence.
Here's an example of existence:
My german shepherd mix used to run towards any dog she'd see and attack it. Didn't matter if it was 5 feet away or 50 feet away. I desperately wanted her to be best friends with every dog she saw, and to run around the park with another dog and be happy. I learned that's not who she is.
Not wanting to force her to be something she's not...I opted for existence. Now, she no longer runs towards other dogs to attack them. She looks at them, acknowledges that they exist...maybe even sniffs their bum...and then moves on.
She doesn't need to be best friends with every dog she sees. She doesn't have that personality. But she certainly needs to learn to exist CALMLY around them.
So...will your dog be able to play nicely with your children? Quite possibly. It all depends on their personality.
However, at the BARE MINIMUM dogs should be polite and calm around the family.
For tips about how to keep your dog polite around the family please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading!