September 18, 2015
Children often don’t know how to act/treat a dog without learning from an adult first. It’s important to teach kids about body language and interactions to aviod any accidents. In the media, dogs are seen being hugged and kissed with their faces close to their human owners. In real life, however, this may not be the case. By explaining what is and is not ok, you can help ensure your child will always have safe interactions with dogs.
1. Wave at the dog, but please don’t touch
Teaching your child to look before touching a dog is an important lesson. Toddler’s are at eye level to most dog’s faces. If a child is used to sticking their hands in a dog’s face, it can lead to a bad interaction. When a child runs up to a dog and tries to touch them the dog may take that as a threat and can react in a way to protect themselves. Instead, teach your child to wave at the dog first.
2. Ask before petting
Would you want someone running up to your child, picking him/her up and talking about how cute they are? Most people wouldn’t and the same goes for dog owners. Teach your children to always ask permission before petting a dog. This not only is the poliet thing to do, but it also may keep your child out of harms way. The dog may not be friendly, but you may not realize that just by looking at it. Asking allows the owner to say no because the dog is not friendly.
3. Dog’s need a break too
When a dog is in their crate, pen or gated off area, back off. Dogs deserve downtime just like we do. Giving kids an example of how they had times when they wanted to be alone helps them better understand and have empathy for their dog.
4. Some “people rules” apply to dogs
For example: Don’t take another kid’s toy without permission. Don’t pull someone’s hair. Don’t yell in someone’s face. Don’t jump on someone’s back or drag them somewhere. Don’t take their food. There are many “people rules” that can be applied to dogs which are fairly easy to teach children. Teach your kids to be mindful by giving exmaples of times when someone did something to them that they did not like.
5. Pay attention to a dog’s body language.
Teaching your child about a dog’s body language is key to a sucessful interaction. A child should know when a dog has had enough of playtime and wants to be left alone. When in public, start to point out dogs to your child and ask “Is that dog feeling happy? How do you know?” By constantly bringing a dog’s behavior to the attention of your child, they can start to pick up negative behaviors.
***Taken from article in the September/October 2015 edition of Family Dog