How to teach your kids how to interact safely with dogs - ScienceOnDogs

How to teach your kids how to interact safely with dogs

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You’re walking down the street, or through the park, when the most adorable little ball of
fur comes trotting toward you with their owner. You may immediately want to reach
down and pet the friendly-looking pup, but even if it’s wagging its tail and seems happy,
it’s never a good idea to pet an unknown dog without asking its owner first.

This is even more important when it comes to your kids and how they interact with
animals. Kids have even less impulse control, especially in the face of cute and cuddly
temptation, which is why it is crucial to teach them proper safety rules.
Here are the lessons your child should learn before you allow them around dogs, even
your own family pet.

1. Just because they look friendly, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still follow safety rules.
Even the friendliest of dogs could react badly when startled or scared, and kids don’t
always approach them with caution. Make sure your kids know that “friendly-looking”
doesn’t necessarily mean safe.

2. ASK permission. Teach your children that, just as they shouldn’t touch other people
without consent, they shouldn’t touch strange dogs without permission from the owner.
Nine times out of ten the owner will be happy to let your child pet their dog, and give you
any information that you might need (i.e.; “She likes to lick faces!” or “Careful, he might
jump up!”) Or they’ll politely say, “Sorry but my dog does not do well around children,
best not,” and isn’t that a warning you’d rather have in advance? (Also, if they say no,
respect their answer and move on. No one is entitled to another person’s pet.)

3. Pet the right way. Make your movements slow and gentle when you’re approaching
an unfamiliar dog. Rather than putting their hands in a dog’s face, teach kids to call the
dog to them. Show them how to gently offer the back of their hand for the dog to sniff
before going right for the pats, and to make sure they make their pets gently and in the
direction of the fur. It’s best to stay away from their faces and heads, especially when
they’re eating or chewing on a toy; start with stroking their backs and let them get
comfortable before trying other spots.

4. Make sure kids know the warning signs of a dog that is anxious or scared, making
them more likely to react poorly to your child. If a dog tucks its tail, cowers or goes rigid,
or starts to bare its teeth or growl, your child should know to immediately back away.

Most pups and owners you’ll meet out in the world will be happy for your kids to show
them love, as long as they know how to respect their boundaries. If you teach your kids
the right way to interact with dogs, you’ll keep both kids and dogs safer, help prevent
phobias as they get older, and give them the joy that comes with being around dogs.

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  • Posted on August 2, 2019

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