Kids are curious; that’s just their nature. So when they see an adorable dog who seems social and playful, they’re interested (that probably goes for adults, too!). But safety is likely not the first thing a youngster thinks of when spotting a stranger’s fluffy Fido or Fifi. Kids might greet a pooch who’s wandering or being walked by an owner, not noticing the dog’s signs of nervousness, fear or reactiveness. Here are a few tips for teaching your little one proper etiquette with unfamiliar dogs.
To approach or not
Ask permission from both owner and dog
Once your child gets permission from both owner and dog, the next step is making correct contact. Remind your youngster to stay calm, avoid staring directly into the dog’s eyes, and speak in a soft, soothing voice. Extending a hand loosely allows the pup to come and give a sniff. If the dog licks your youngster’s hand or leans on his or her leg, it’s time to make a new friend! This is an invitation to gently pet the dog on the sides and under the chin.
Dogs are a wonderful part of many children’s lives, and meeting a dog should always be a positive experience for everyone involved. When kids know the best ways to interact with unfamiliar dogs, then everyone—youngsters, Fifi, Fido and owners—are all better off.