3 Steps To Teach Your Child How To Meet A Dog
As a parent it is extremely important to teach your child the proper way to meet a dog. Kids often become eager to approach and interact with a furry and happy looking canine, yet not all dogs are kid-friendly. This doesn’t imply that an unwilling dog is mean or bad, but simply that it may not be familiar with children or their energy levels. Dr. Kapadia of Quakerbridge Pediatrics recommends teaching your children the following 3 steps for safely meeting a new four legged friend.
Step 1: Ask Permission
An overly excited child may often rush up toward a dog they are interested in before thinking twice if the dog is friendly or if the dog’s owner will even allow the child to interact with their furry friend. It is important to teach your child to always ask permission before petting a pup. It is good practice to tell your child to stop at least 5 feet away from any dog and ask the owner “May I please pet your dog?” Demonstrate this step in the comfort of your own home using one of your child’s stuffed animals.
Always remind your child that not all dogs may be friendly and sometimes an owner may say no. Reinforce the notion that there are many other dogs that would be happy to play with your child! If the owner does say yes, it is a good idea to then have your child introduce themselves to the dog and actually ask the dog for permission as well.
Step 2: Ask The Dog If It Would Like To Be Petted
Quakerbridge Pediatrics reminds you that it is vital not to skip this step when teaching your child the proper way to meet a new dog. Explain to your child that dogs cannot use human words to communicate their feelings and teach them how to rely on a dog’s body language instead. Take on the role of the dog and act out different emotions such as anger and fear to demonstrate possible reactions a dog may have.
Show your kids how to ask for a dog’s permission by slowly extending their arm and hand toward a dog in a safe manner. Be sure your child keeps their fingers curled into their palm to reduce any risk of an unfriendly dog nipping at them. Once they offer their hand to the dog, pay attention to the dog’s reaction and body language. Does the dog sniff and wag its tail? Does it lean forward for a quick sniff and rub against the hand? Or does the dog turn his face away from your child and back away? Or does the dog bark or growl? Such actions are all major indicators of the dog’s intention.
Stressing the importance of interpreting a dog’s body language reinforces the idea that not all owners may understand their dog’s decisions when it comes to meeting new children. While an owner may offer their dog or say it is alright to pet, the dog may have other feelings that need to be respected.
Step 3: Pet The Pup
If the owner and the dog’s body language both say yes to your child, then allow him or her to pet the dog. Explain to your child that a dog’s ears, eyes, and mouth are sensitive areas and should be avoided. Demonstrate the proper way to calmly pet a dog. Most people tend to pet dogs on the top of their head, however dogs have a blind spot in this area and it may not be the best place to show your affection. Suggest to your child to pet the dog along the side of the its neck, along its back, or over its chest. Dr. Milan R. Kapadia reminds parents and children to use caution when meeting a new dog and to always respect the body language of the canine.
Share Your Pet Friendly Photographs!
Has your son or daughter recently found a new four legged friend? Share photographs of your child with their pet on the Quakerbridge Pediatrics Facebook page here or use the hash tag #QBPediatrics on other social media platforms to share your pictures on our website’s Social Media Sharing Wall.