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5-Year-Old Son Abused Our Dog

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My wife walked in on our 5 year old son holding down his 4 month old beagle puppy and whacking it repeatedly with a stiff nerf sword. She said his eyes and face did not show emotion as he repositioned her and continued beating her while she cowered for 2 minutes before my wife finally stepped in after trying to see how it progressed. We know he is capable of feeling real empathy, but it appeared to be turned off at this time. About a month ago he also pushed the dog down the last 3 steps because she was in the way. We took all toy weapons away and we scheduled an evaluation, but it’s over a month away. Any advice?

5-Year-Old Son Abused Our Dog

Answered by on -


Thank you for your question. I am assuming that evaluation is with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. In the interim however, I would make an appointment with your pediatrician for a complete medical evaluation. This would almost always be requested by the evaluator. This will move you that much ahead of the curve if you have it done it beforehand.

In the meantime, I would take note of any of the incidents that take place. Identify anything that came before the occurrence that you might see is an activator for what he did. Also note the consequences of his actions. This can help the evaluator to determine if there is a pattern to the aggression.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

5-Year-Old Son Abused Our Dog

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). 5-Year-Old Son Abused Our Dog. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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