Kids & Dogs: Part 2

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
For safety’s sake, it’s best to teach your child to avoid unknown dogs who are loose and unsupervised. He or she should leave the immediate area and alert an adult about the wandering dog. It’s also wise to teach your child not to approach a dog walking with an owner unless he or she is with you or another adult. Even the most well-behaved and calm dog may feel nervous and unfriendly when approached by an unfamiliar child. Some dogs may feel protective of his or her owner or be uncomfortable with strangers. Others may still be in training and working on people skills.

Ask permission from both owner and dog
This is very important to remember (even some adults could use a refresher on this one). A child needs to learn to ask permission from the owner before interacting with a dog. A simple, “May I pet your dog?” shows courtesy and respect for both the owner and dog. Even if the owner says it’s okay to pet the pooch, teach your child to understand dog body language and ensure the dog is up for a friendly introduction.

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.

Kids & Dogs: Part 2

Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
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Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society