4-year-olds generally love their pets, but they lack how to treat them. Sometimes kids of such age get rough and ruthless with their pets and hurt them unwantedly. Sometimes their extreme love turns out to be so harsh for the pet.
Especially if you own a pet dog, a 4-year-old might consider him a toy and want to play with it roughly. So if you see your 4-year-old mean to the dog and wonder what makes him so ruthless and rough against an innocent dog, take necessary measures and immediately address the situation to cope with this behavior.
With a 4-year-old, you can easily make him understand the consequences of hurting the dog. Make him realize that loving and playing with the dog should be done gently, not brutally. But even after all the necessary steps you take, if your child is still mean to the dog, then you need to find the root cause of such behavior.
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Reasons why a 4-year-old is mean to a dog:
Here are the most common reasons why your 4-year-old is mean to a dog, hitting or being rough with him.
By knowing the reasons, you can easily find a solution.
1- He doesn’t understand that dog is not a toy
A 4-year-old child might be mean to the dog because he may not understand that the dog is a living creature who feels all sorts of emotions. So instead, he visualizes him as a toy to play with.
Sometimes a child has stuffed animal toys with which he has been playing since his toddlerhood, and chances are he considers the real dog a stuffed toy and plays with him the way he wants to.
Talking to the child should be best. 4-year-olds can understand what you teach to them.
2- He gets curious when he sees a dog
If the child did not grow up living with a dog since he was born, then he might get curious about every action of the dog. For example, when the dog is in a playful mood, he waggles his tail, flips around, and bends down on his paws. Upon such actions, the kid might get attracted to him and try to play with him roughly without knowing that he is hurting him.
By talking to your child, you can make him realize that dog acts differently than humans. Tell him what he does when he is happy or sad. Finish your child’s curiosity.
3- The dog is new to him
Sometimes families adopt pets when they think their children are muchly sensible to handle a pet. But in some cases, children of age 4 need help understanding how to handle a pet. They might unwantedly hurt the new pet because they are unfamiliar with them and do not know how to take care of them.
With time, your 4-year-old will understand what a dog is. Meanwhile, you must keep an eye on them when they play together. Keep guiding your child on how to treat the dog.
4- The child is frustrated
Sometimes a child might hurt the pet dog because he is frustrated with something. For example, he might be angry with the parent’s behavior and take out his frustration on the dog.
But this kind of behavior needs immediate action because this would bring more aggression and cruelty in his nature, and he might end up hurting the pet dog terribly.
When your child is frustrated or has more tantrums, keep him away from the dog. Confine your dog in his playpen or keep the child in his room.
Moreover, do not yell at your child, he will pass the frustration to the dog.
5- He has learned it from someone else
In some cartoons and animated movies, there are scenes in which a pet has been shown mistreated by the owners. If your child has watched such cartoons or movies, he might end up being mean to the dog because he does not know this is wrong and cartoons are just for fun.
Or there is a possibility that he has seen any friend being rough and ruthless with the dog, so he might copy his behavior and mistreats the dog.
Simply ask your child if he has seen someone hitting the dog. Make sure your child has supervised screen time.
6- he has learned it from his parents
Children copy the adults around them. If the parents or elders at home yell or mistreat the dog, chances are the child will do the same. So it is not only kids but also adults who need to be kind towards animals.
Simple! Be nice to your dog to make your child nicer to him.
7- He feels jealous of him
When the child does not grow up with a pet, and suddenly his parents introduce him to a pet dog at the age of 4 can make him feel jealous of him. When families adopt pets, they become obsessed with them initially. They get attracted to their cuteness and playful nature and spend a lot of time around the pet.
This might make the child feel jealous of him as his parents might give more attention and affection to the pet. So parents must maintain a balance between their child and the pet and teach him to be kind towards the animal.
Give your child enough attention. When you are playing with your dog, engage your child too. Ask him to give the dog treats. Improve their bonding.
8- He does not understand the consequences of hurting the dog
Animals are animals no matter what. They might act defensively when attacked. There are chances that a dog can bite the child with whom he feels unsafe. Excessive squeezing, pulling the tail, or hitting the dog might make him angry and act defensively.
So parents should be very vigilant when adopting a pet dog and keep their eyes on their child and the pet. The consequences can be terrible both ways.
Verbally tell your child what can happen if he keeps being too mean or rough with the dog.
9- He wants any other animal as a pet
Every kid has their favorite animal and wishes to have it as a pet at home. I have seen kids asking their parents to have a pet monkey at home, but that is impossible. Mainly people adopt pets such as cats, dogs, parrots, fish, turtles, or hamsters.
If the pet living in the house is not what the child likes, he might be mean to it.
If it’s possible for you, get your child his favorite pet; otherwise, fix a separate area of the house for your dog. If your child doesn’t want a dog, you shouldn’t force him to become friendly with him.
10- He does not understand the dog’s frank behavior
Dogs are generally very playful and loving pets. They love their owners and are very dedicated to them. You must have seen many videos where the dogs run toward their owner and jump on them when they come home.
A 4 -year-old might not understand the dog’s frankness, and out of anger or frustration, he may hit the dog or push it away to get rid of him.
In such situations, parents must keep the dog away from the child and intervene when the dog jumps on him. Meanwhile, over time, the child will understand his dog’s behavior and settle with each other.
If nothing works and your 4-year-old continues to be mean to the dog, then, unfortunately, you have to find a new home for your dog, as the consequences of this act can be terrible.
Your 4-year-old is mean to the dog because he doesn’t understand what a dog is. It is also possible that he doesn’t like dogs and is more interested in another kind of pets.
Talk to your child and figure out what’s wrong. Solve the core of the problem.