Dogs and people are naturally drawn toward one another, but both dogs and kids need to be taught manners around each other. As a parent, you may not be able to prevent every situation where your child faces danger, but you can prepare them to take on challenges with courage and thoughtfulness. Taking that approach with teaching dog safety can actually help your children see the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect.
Teach your child how to approach a dog
One of the biggest mistakes kids make is running up to a dog and petting it aggressively. Teach your child to approach a dog slowly and ask the owner, first, if it is okay to pet the dog. If they say yes, tell your child to be sure to let the dog sniff before petting them.
Show your child how to read the mood
Even a familiar, friendly dog can be aggressive toward a child if they are caught in a tense mood. Teach your child the basics about reading a dog’s body language. For instance, Canine Journal explains a dog with a tense tail and raised hair is one that feels threatened or concerned. A dog with their belly exposed and a relaxed tail is relaxed and submissive. Learning to read cues appropriately will help your child avoid a mishap.
Give tips for walking dogs on a leash
Walking a dog can be a fruitful scenario for dog aggression. Even your own dog may struggle here. They may not be aggressive toward your child initially, but sometimes other animals, people, or unfamiliar situations bring on intense emotions in pets.
If Fido gets caught up in a frenzy, an accident could happen. Explain appropriate handling to your kids to make sure they don’t make simple mistakes while walking with your dog, like tightening their grip on the leash or assuming another leashed dog is comfortable with a meet and greet.
Avoid situations with too many unknowns
Does the dog look completely unfamiliar? Is there no owner nearby you can ask about the dog? If you don’t know whether or not you should approach a stray dog, Cesar’s Way says the answer is; do not. You might stress the dog with the approach, which in turn could trigger aggression. Instead, teach your child to report the animal to a grown-up who can help find the owner.
Many people can get a message to a dog’s owner through their dog’s rabies vaccination records, which should be on the dog’s tag. Similarly, microchips can be read by veterinary clinics or animal control personnel, so the owner could be found that way.
Let the dog take the lead
As Animal Wellness Magazine explains, body language is important when interacting with dogs. When trying to engage a dog, encourage your child to make slow, steady movements, an appropriate tone of voice, and soft, pleasant facial expressions. Avoid any yelling, sudden noises or outbursts to increase the positive energy around you.
Teach your youngster how to follow the dog’s lead to learn how it wants to be interacted with. For example, many dogs are unnerved by direct, sustained eye contact. And it’s generally best to avoid approaching all the way; get about halfway and then encourage the dog to come the rest of the way to you.
Set rules for when dogs are eating or chewing
Explain to your child that dogs need space when they are eating food or treats, and also when they are chewing on a bone or a toy. Dogs in the wild are protective of their food, so it’s in your dog’s nature to be more prone to aggression during these times.
Teach your children to keep a safe distance from your dog when they are eating meals, gnawing on treats or chewing on bones. You can always use indoor gates or your dog’s crate for allowing alone time, whether your dog wants to eat or enjoy a favorite toy.
Making sure your child knows how to recognize an aggressive dog is the first step in preventing their chances of running into each other. It’s also critical to ensure your child behaves appropriately with familiar dogs. An ounce of prevention can keep both your youngster and pet clear of mishaps.
Article by Brandon @Furandfeathers.info