When kids and dogs get along and respect each other, it’s a beautiful thing. The trust and emotional connection that develps over time is epic and quite profound. As a parent or owner of a dog, you are responsible for teaching kids how to behave around dogs and vice-versa. In many cases if proper training and education are not taken seriously from the beginning, disasters can occur. The safety and well-being of all involved are too important to leave this “fact of life” to chance.
Teaching Kids How to Behave Around Dogs
Parenting and pet ownership are not that different so even if you only have one of the fore mentioned participants, inevitably contact with the other will occur at some point so it is very important to take measures to introduce pets to other children or your children to other pets. Households with children and pets have a responsibility to make every effort to properly socialize and teach everyone to be friendly, and gentle with each other.
Teach your children to have gentle hands when touching animals. You may want to have the child practice by gently “petting” a stuffed dog or a friend or neighbor’s dog that has been deemed friendly. During these times explain to the child that poking, slapping or squeezing can hurt the dog and we must never hurt any animals.
Even though dogs can’t speak like us dogs have ways of telling us what they like and don’t like. Teach kids how to recognize and interpret a dog’s body language. The internet or the library will have resources and pictures of dogs displaying different kinds of aggressive and non aggressive behavior that you can discuss with your child.
“Kadie” or Kids and Dogs Interactive Education is an organization that is dedicated to teaching and training kids and dogs how to behave around each other.
KADIE – Kids And Dogs Interactive Education is the brainchild of M. Cecilia Saleme (CPDT – Certified Pet Dog Trainer) who in her work with families and dogs recognized a need for educating families, especially families without pet dogs, about the correct way to approach unfamiliar dogs. Our curriculum was developed by the collaboration of canine behavior professionals with child psychologists, in order to create age-specific programs that are effective, fun and appropriate.
You can rest assured that a KADIE certified instructor will teach your children what is appropriate behavior around dogs, and will teach it in a way that helps them to remember.
Parents also need to teach their children that even the best dogs have basic instincts that can override their usual friendly behavior. To avoid these situations point out that there are some things kids should NEVER do…
- Never approach a dog without the owner’s permission-even if you already know the dog is friendly.
- Never jump or yell near a sleeping dog
- Never run after a dog who wants to get away
- Never bother a dog that is eating or chewing a bone or toy- Keep Hands Off!
- Never Stare a dog in the eye for a long time
- Never play tug of war games or other games that reinforce aggression
Under these circumstances any animal might feel threatened and the instinct to protect itself could cause sudden aggressive behavior. It is ultimately up to the parents to supervise all interactions between small children and animals. Never risk leaving a child alone with any animal. Most of the time nothing will happen, but why take a chance?
Teaching kids how to behave around dogs is a big responsibility that pays off big time. Over and over, I’ve seen when children get involved in the basic care and feeding routines and engage in healthy play and exercise with their pets they learn responsibility and empathy towards others besides themselves. It also sends the message to the dog that your child’s place in the pack is above the dogs which is important for overall safety.
Have you had any experiences with children and dogs that you’d like to share?