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Are Belgian Malinois Good With Kids? Temperament and Behavior

Written by: Jeff Weishaupt

Last Updated on June 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

a belgian malinois dog with a young girl sitting on the grass

Are Belgian Malinois Good With Kids? Temperament and Behavior

You’ve decided to get a Belgian Malinois but aren’t sure if your little ones are safe around them. The good news is that Belgian Malinois are great around kids. They are protective animals that like to look after their owners and handlers. Since they’re easy to train, you can teach your Belgian Malinois pup to be around kids from childhood.

However, the Belgian Malinosis does not respond well to aggression. Thus, training your dog, setting ground rules, and teaching your children how to be in the same space as them are essential. Below, we discuss the temperament of behavioral traits of the Belgian Malinois.

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What Is the Belgian Malinois Temperament Like?

Belgian Malinoiss or Belgian Shepherds are confident and hardworking dogs that prefer a place in an affectionate family. They are moderately good with other dogs and children. While they’re not exactly open to strangers, a little training can go a long way. They are a playful breed with a moderate adaptability level.

The Belgian Malinois’ protective nature is unmatched. Your pet will be alert and responsive to any sign of danger, keeping your children safe from intruders in any setting. Another notable trait of Belgian Malinois is their ease of trainability. With proper obedience and socialization training, you can teach your dog to be friendly around kids and other pets.

They also have high energy levels, which is perfect for keeping up with kids. At the same time, they have high mental stimulation needs, and they always need an activity to keep them occupied and challenge their minds.

belgian malinois dog playing with young girl
Image Credit: Toma Stepunina, Shutterstock

Is It Safe to Leave a Toddler Around Belgian Malinosis?

Regardless of the breed, you should not leave a dog around a toddler unsupervised. Although a Belgian Malinois is unlikely to attack a small child in their family, they’re large enough to cause accidental injuries. Keep an eye on your pet’s body language even when you’re in the room while your child plays with the Belgian Malinois. Most parents only consider biting, snapping, and growling signs of danger.

But your dog may also exhibit some other stress signals. Here’s what to beware of:

Lip Licking

If your Belgian Malinois constantly licks their lips while playing with your little one, it’s a sign of discomfort. Although the dog is not being overly aggressive, they are conveying that they’re anxious or uncomfortable.

Excessive lip licking may also be due to a medical condition, such as dental problems, intestinal obstruction, nausea, or sudden diet changes. These situations can also make your dog uncomfortable, increasing their risk of showing aggression.

Avoidance Behaviors

If your toddler tries to make the dog play with them, but your pet walks or turns away repeatedly, you must give them space. Separate your dog from the toddler.

Whale Eye

Now, this one takes a while to identify, but it’s one of the most common signs of aggression in dogs. The whale eye is when your pet turns their head to look at you with one or both eyes while their ears are pinned back, showing the whites of their eyes.

Again, it’s a sign that your pet is uncomfortable or tense. Keep your toddler away from the Belgian Shepherd until they calm down.

belgian sheepdog malinois barking
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

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How to Make Your Belgian Malinois Safe for Kids

If you teach your Belgian Malinois how to behave around children, they can be your kids’ best buddy. Do the following to ensure your dog feels comfortable around kids.

Socialize Your Belgian Malinois

Vets recommend owners start socialization training in the 7th to 8th week of a pup’s life. During this time, puppies are likely to learn new things, such as how to react to people and other animals. If you have adopted a Belgian Malinois pup, introduce them to novel situations, people, and pets. You can keep them around kids of different ages to make them comfortable. But make sure the kids are well-behaved and do not provoke your dog to lash out.

Adult Belgian Malinois can also be socialized, but the process takes longer. Verbally praise and reward your dog for good behavior around kids. If your dog shows signs of stress, remove them from the environment immediately.

Do Handling Exercises

It’s best to teach your kids not to touch dogs in sensitive places like their ears and paws. Kids should also not hug dogs too much or too tightly, especially if the animal exhibits avoidance behavior. To be on the safe side, practice handling exercises with your Belgian Malinois.

For example, you can touch their tail or ears gently. Remember to give your pet lots of praise and treats if they do not respond aggressively. But stop doing these exercises if your Belgian Malinois exhibits anxiety or fear.

belgian malinois puppy having treat
Image Credit: Julia Malsagova, Shutterstock

Accustom Your Belgian Malinois to Kids’ Toys

When kids play with dogs, they sometimes have toys or bikes. Think of how scary it must be for a dog to have a bike whizzing around or a stuffed animal suddenly thrown in their direction. If your dog feels threatened by a toy, they may destroy or chew it. Dogs also chase moving toys, which can injure the kids in the process.

You can avoid this by introducing your dog to kids’ toys. If you have already started an obedience training program, the basic commands can be handy. For example, if your dog picks up a stuffed toy and plans to chew it, give the “drop” command. Reward your pet with treats when they obey.

Don’t Force Your Dog

Belgian Malinois dogs are generally good around kids. However, a dog may have a history of abuse or trauma that makes it difficult for them to be around children or loud noises. Don’t push your dog to be around children if it’s evident that they’re uncomfortable. You don’t want your pet to be upset. Also, an anxious dog can become aggressive and dangerous.

Belgian-Shepherd-Malinois
Image By: shymar27, Shutterstock

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How to Teach Kids to Be Around Dogs

Training your dog is not enough. You must also teach your children how to behave around dogs. It’s vital if you plan to leave them alone with your Belgian Malinois in the future. Here are some tips:

Give the Dog Space

Kids, being kids, don’t understand the concept of personal space. While you understand this, your dog doesn’t. So, you have to teach your kids to give pets their space.

Here are some good pointers:
  • Do not touch the dog without permission or while they are eating.
  • Avoid approaching a dog from behind.
  • Do not throw toys or other items at your dog.
  • Do not tease the animal with toys or food.

Know When to Step Back

You must teach your kids the warning signs of a dog’s aggression. If the dog snaps, growls, or hisses, tell them to step back and calmly lead them to another room. Also, if you have multiple pets, kids should not get in the middle of their playtime. When two or more dogs play together, they get pretty excited and may inadvertently hurt your child if they get in the way.

two kids hugging a belgian malinois outdoors
Image By: Diana Badmaeva, Shutterstock

Teach Them How to Pet and Handle a Dog

Kids can be aggressive, often unwillingly. They might yank the dog, pull their tail, or hug them too tightly. Teach your kid to pet animals gently. Since they’re kids, telling them won’t suffice. You’ll have to show them how to handle dogs safely and gently. Also, don’t let your kids give treats to dogs. First, there’s a risk of them being bitten. Second, they might overfeed treats to your Belgian Malinois, making them obese.

Do Not Wake a Dog From Sleep

Anyone with kids knows that the little ones have no regard for anyone’s sleep. Although they think it’s okay to sneak into your bed at 3:00 in the morning, they shouldn’t do the same with your Belgian Malinois.

Teach your child not to wake up a sleeping dog, whether a Belgian Malinois or any other breed. When startled, the dog can get scared and nip at your child.

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Conclusion

Belgian Malinois are one of the best breeds for families with children since they’re easy to train and friendly toward children. However, you should not leave a toddler with a dog unsupervised. Training your dog and child to behave appropriately with each other is also essential. Both parties should understand each other’s boundaries so that no one gets harmed during playtime.


Featured Image Credit: Denis Tablerr, Shutterstock

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