The Bubble

“Don’t run about because it makes Alfie excited.”

“Don’t wave your arms because it makes it makes Alfie jump up.”

“Don’t chase Alfie when he’s got one of your toys.”

“Don’t fuss Alfie when he’s in his bed. Don’t go near Alfie while he’s eating.”

It’s Don’t, Don’t, Don’t, for the young child who just loves to cuddle and play with her dog.

Nag nag nag.

It often comes to this because a child has been snapped at or bitten. More often than not, because children like to put their own face close to the dog’s, maybe to kiss him, the child has been bitten on the face.

Because the child’s behaviour has unintentionally caused it, it has to be just as important to spend time teaching and motivating the child as it is the dog.

With positive reinforcement, teaching the dog what he should do rather than constantly trying to correct him, the dog dramatically improves.

ShouldBerridge2n’t it be positive reinforcement with the child also?

I go to a great many cases where a young child has been nipped or bitten by their family dog – not causing too much damage but a serious warning.

Unless he or she behaves differently there is even more danger of a second bite because for the dog, a bite did the trick. It was the one thing that at last made the child back off.

While a child has to be constantly watched and warned there is tension in the house which inevitably hinders progress, gets everyone frustrated and stresses the dog.

Hence, The Bubble.

At certain times the dog will be surrounded by an imaginary Bubble. These times most likely will be when the dog is sleeping and when he’s eating.

The Bubble will be at least one metre in diameter – larger for a big dog.


Children are very good at coming up with gross ideas of what might come out of the Bubble if they burst it! Revolting smells? Poo? Slugs? !

However, The Bubble is Magic because the dog can come out whenever he likes without anything escaping from it.

So, Alfie can come over to the child when he wishes.

In some cases the dog may need to retain a constant Smaller Bubble around his head, to avoid face to face contact and kissing.

Bubble around the dog

Dijon’s Bubble

I like to bring a photo onto which the child can draw The Bubble around their dog.

Here is one drawn by a lovely little girl called Molly around her Cavapoo Dijon (full story here). Molly is five.

First she drew Dijon’s Bubble.

Then she drew herself – outside The Bubble.

Later on she added hearts leading from herself to Dijon, sending him her love without touching him. She thought of that all by herself. Genius.

I have used this technique with many children over the years.

Hearts added later by Molly

Hearts added later by Molly

Copies of the child’s drawing of their dog in The Bubble can be stuck in special places such as beside the dog’s bed – as a visual reminder.

Here is the story of Harry’s Bubble. Harry’s children “want to cuddle and give Harry love all the time but are learning to do it in a different way. They respect the Bubble and say it automatically when they go near him now”.

Danny’s Bubble:  When Danny goes to his bed, the little girl likes telling her mum, “Mummy Danny has gone into his bubble!”

Freckles’ Bubble: The ten-year-old girl had been bitten on the mouth as a result of her overwhelming love for Freckles. At first the child found it very difficult to observe Freckles’ Bubble so she wrote me a daily diary of what happened during the day between her and Freckles and how she felt about it. Before long she got used to leaving Freckles alone in his Bubble when he wanted peace.

Lola’s Bubble: Although only a puppy, Lola was growling at the young boy when he approached her bed. Here are some words after my visit and introduction to The Bubble: “We have been sticking to The Bed Bubble and it has certainly made things clearer… there has been no more growling.  It is respecting Lola’s feelings……she’s certainly more relaxed and seems more affectionate”.

I find that children are very good at explaining The Bubble not only to their friends but reminding mum and dad too! Some take on the role of ‘dog protector’.

Motivate the young children and it’s win win all round.

For my main website with stories of many dogs I have been to, please go to


About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
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