1: Wave but don’t touch
It’s not always ok to run up to every dog. Teaching children from a young age to wave at dogs but not to hug them is a valuable life lesson. As children’s faces tend to be at the same level as a dog’s, it can be threatening for them as well as stressful. Teach children to wave and the dog will thank you for it.
2: Understand what the dog is saying
It is important that from a young age, children are aware of what dogs are trying to communicate. It is vital that children do not assume all dogs are friendly, and that they wait to see if the dog is inviting attention or would rather be left alone.
3: Don’t just ask the owner if the dog is friendly, see for yourself
Just like parents with their children – virtually every dog owner believes that their pooch is the most lovable, beautiful pet on the planet and would never hurt a fly. This is why it is so important to teach children how to tell if a dog wants to be pet or not. Tell your child that a wagging tail doesn’t always mean that a dog is happy, and ask them “how does that dog feel about that person hugging them?” If the dog is standing very still, or backing away, which means the dog is telling them to please stay away.
4: Know how to pet properly
Children need to know that most dogs to not like to hugged the way that is often shown in the movies. If the dog’s ears are pinned back and they are edging away that is a sign that they are not happy.
5: Never play alone with a dog
Dogs are not nannies. They should never be left alone with children until the children are at least mid teens. Even adults are mistaken often for assuming that dogs like to be hugged, and even encouraging rough play with them. Dog bites are serious, especially if it is your dog even play-biting another child. Avoid the risk by supervising at all times.
6: Leave the dog alone
Dogs need breaks too, make sure your child is aware that if your dog is curled up in his crate and sleeping peacefully, let sleeping dogs lie. Teach your child that just like they need their naps, dogs need them too.
7: Different house different rules
Dogs have different rules depending on which family owns them. Let your child know that while dogs might follow strict rules in one house, other dogs might think it’s ok to jump up on you, or even steal your food. Teach children not to endorse bad behavior, though to be aware and prepared for it.