Teach children to be dog friendly

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“How can I make my dog more child friendly?” The question really should be – “How can I make my child more dog friendly?” It makes far more sense to teach children how to behave around dogs before teaching dogs how to behave around children.

This is a subject that I feel very strongly about and I cannot stress enough how important it is to teach children how to behave around dogs. I often see children treating dogs like toys, jumping on them, pulling them, poking, kissing and hugging, screaming and encouraging dogs to chase them and then tears and stressed parents when the dog nips them or worse. It’s usually the dog that gets the blame when this happens and it really isn’t the dogs fault. Dogs don’t come with a built-in ability to know how to interact with children and it’s up to parents to teach their children how to interact with dogs. If children were taught from a very young age how to interact and respect a dog’s space there would be far fewer incidents of dog bites.

Children often like to show dogs love by hugging, kissing or leaning against them – this is the human way of showing affection, but most dogs find this stressful and frightening. This normal “human” behaviour could easily lead to a dog bite, which is why it’s so important to always supervise young children around dogs. When a dog is feeling stressed or frightened and their attempt to communicate this through their body language is ignored, they may see no other way to make the scary situation go away than to snap or bite. Teach children that dogs don’t like being hugged, kissed or sat on. Teach children that dogs like quiet, soft, calm voices and that shouting and screaming scares them. Teach them never to disturb dogs that are sleeping, eating or chewing something. Teach them that dogs are not toys and don’t like to be jumped on, pulled or pushed, chased or teased. Teach them to respect dogs as one sentient being to another.