The Chow Chow breed originated in northern China at least 2,000 years ago. These medium-sized dogs resemble teddy bears, giving the impression to young children that they might be cuddly and fun to play with. With their reserved personalities and slightly aloof nature, this is hardly the case. Chow Chows may not be the best dogs to keep around children who are rambunctious or misbehave.
Chow Chows are more independent than most dogs and are similar in many ways to a cat when it comes to their personalities. They are also more difficult to train than other breeds. Chow Chows are reserved around strangers and tend to be very protective of family members. When they are around children who are not part of their family, Chow Chows may be wary and standoffish. Children who are yelling and running around, or who try to manhandle the dog, could trigger aggression in the Chow Chow. Young children may be unaware of the warning signs prior to a bite, such as growling, snarling, or baring of the teeth.
To prevent aggression problems, especially around children, expose your Chow Chow to as many people of all ages as possible while the dog is a puppy. Primary socialization occurs between 3 and 18 weeks of age, when the dog is most open to new experiences. Meeting new people under positive circumstances, with resulting treats and verbal praise, will teach your Chow Chow that strangers and children are nothing to be concerned about. The AKC Canine Good Citizen program is a good way to socialize your Chow chow to other people and animals while teaching some basic obedience.
As with any breed, your Chow Chow should never be left with unsupervised children under 6 years of age. Simply telling a small child to stay away from a dog or to play gently with the dog will not reliably prevent the child from trying to hug or pull the tail of the dog. When supervising your child in the company of your Chow Chow, teach the child not to make eye contact with the dog. Chow Chows have poor peripheral vision, so a child should approach the dog slowly from the front and should not move suddenly; this could scare the dog and accidentally induce a bite.
Before bringing home a new baby, allow your Chow Chow to smell the baby's blanket and clothing. Keep your Chow Chow on a leash when first introducing the dog to children of any age, and give both the child and the dog equal amounts of attention and praise. Continue to lengthen the meeting times between children and your Chow Chow, keeping each meeting positive and upbeat. Chow chows have a high prey drive and could view a small child running around or waving their arms around as a potential animal to hunt. For this reason, keep children calm, quiet, and still during all meetings with the dog.
While the Chow Chow tends to be aloof and protective, aggression and shyness toward adults and children is not part of the breed's standard behavior. Such behavior results from improper breeding and inadequate socialization of Chow Chows by careless breeders. Purchase a Chow Chow only from a breeder registered with the AKC or a similar organization, or adopt a dog from a reputable breed rescue organization or local SPCA. Consult with your veterinarian or a dog behaviorist if your Chow Chow displays aggression toward children.
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