Are Malinois Good with Kids?

On a regular basis people ask me that loaded question "Are Malinois good with kids?".  My reply is usually "how are your kids with dogs?".    

I purchased my first Malinois in 1993, when my son was just barely starting to walk, and have had many many Malinois since. Everything from dogs born at our house, to adult dogs purchased from situations with kids and without.  Just like humans, some dogs are more tolerant of kids than others.  But Malinois add an extra level of "interest" when it comes to their interactions with children, having high prey drive and an inate desire to bite things that move.  So how do you balance this with kids, who tend to be energetic, move very fast, and make lots of interesting noise?  One simple ground rule around our house, I didn't allow my son or his friends to do many of the typical kid behaviors around the dogs.

  • You will not run screaming through the house waving things.
  • You will not wrestle with other kids around the dog.
  • You will not jump on the dog.
  • You will not tease the dog while it's eating.
  • You will not send the dog to do bark and holds on each other, then have the kid being barked at take off running.  (seriously, I caught them doing this)

IE if you want to do things that will trigger the dogs prey response, or possibly a protective response, do that in the bedroom or family room with the door closed, or when the dogs are outside. You can play with the dog, but in a manner that focuses the dogs drives into an acceptable area, such as fetch or tug-o-war.  My son also learned which dogs would ignore various prey behaviors without getting worked up to a chase/nip, and which ones wouldn't.  The younger the dog was, the less likely it was going to be able to control it's natural response to "prey action", although that self control might come with age.  He also learned which dogs if they did get worked up would run off and grab a toy, then join in the game with something in their mouth they could take their frustrations out on.  Which dogs enjoyed a little wrestling or rougher play, and which dogs did not.  And he was taught to respect each dog and it's boundaries.   

How well a Malinois will do with your kids also depends on you as a parent.  If you are the type of parent who is going to freak out if the child is knocked over, scratched, nipped, etc then a Malinois is probably not the breed for you. Especially not a Malinois puppy. I've talked to some people who say "if the dog nipped my kid, I would KILL it".  Well then I suggest you don't get a Malinois, or any other high prey drive breed.  Especially not a young one.  Just like your child occasionally forgets the rules and runs in the house, or yells while playing, or throws a ball inside, etc the dog will occasionally forget the rule that running/screaming children aren't prey and shouldn't be chased or nipped.  If however this happens and your attitude is "I should probably supervise my child and dog better, it's just a scratch" then a Malinois MIGHT fit into your family with kids.

 

 

One thought on “Are Malinois Good with Kids?

  1. smarteq

    It is important to research the temperament of any dog you would bring into your home, including a Belgian Malinois. This is especially true if you have children.   Some dogs are very gentle and tolerant of all children while others make better companions for older children. The safest dog for children is one who is raised with them from a very young age. However, a dog raised without children can be carefully socialized and taught how to behave around them. This is a slow thoughtful process of getting the dog to first accept the presence of children and then, in time, teaching the dog to interact with one child, then two, etc. Children need to be careful not to scare a dog during the early phases of socialization and they need to be taught not to tease a dog.  This involves careful supervision with any dog. Often children are not even aware they are teasing when holding a cookie just out of the dog s reach. Adult supervision is vitally important to assure the safety of the child and the well being of the dog.

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