When your children visit friends who have a family dog, the situation may be difficult. The main reason for this is that you most likely have little to no control over the dog or its behavior. The dog may have aggressive tendencies, poor training and behavior, or a distaste for children.
As a parent, it is important to teach your children from an early age how to behave around dogs. This is especially important for behaving around unfamiliar dogs. By instilling dog safety in your kids, you can play an indirect role in situations that you may not be able to control in the future.
Kids and Dogs
First and foremost, kids should learn to respect all dogs and their boundaries. It’s no secret that most children enjoy playing, which tends to include roughhousing. A common issue with kids and dogs occurs when a child becomes too unintentionally aggressive or rowdy with a dog. Some dogs are simply not receptive to this behavior.
Lesson 1: Dogs Are Not Toys
One of the most important lessons a child can learn is that dogs are not toys. Therefore, they cannot be treated like toys. Kids should learn as soon as possible that tail pulling, hitting, and smothering are not acceptable ways to show affection to a dog. By respecting a dog’s personal space, the chances of an altercation between kids and dogs are significantly reduced.
Lesson 2: Learn How Dogs Communicate
Children should also learn how to read a dog’s body language. A wagging tail generally means that it’s okay to proceed with caution. Growling, downward-pointing ears, or licking their chops should be a red flag. When dogs are playing and excitement gets too intense, kids should learn to back away to avoid getting caught in the middle.
Safety Tips for Kids and Dogs
Parents can take the following steps to ensure smooth relations between kids and dogs:
- When your child visits a friend, speak with the parents about family pets. If they have a dog, ask questions about the dog’s personality, mannerisms, and how your child should act in the dog’s company.
- Teach your child to always approach new dogs with caution. Have your child approach slowly, and extend a palm-down fist toward the dog. Speaking softly to the dog and avoiding staring is also recommended. The child can proceed to pet the dog if the dog does not growl or appear fearful or aggressive.
- Prevent your child from attempting to play with a dog that’s eating, sleeping, or playing by itself with a chew toy. Dogs may react aggressively to interruption during these “me-time” activities.
- If your family also has a dog, enroll your children in training and handling classes. By learning how to interact with your dog with the help of a professional training, your child will be more equipped to deal with unfamiliar dogs.
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