Children are drawn to animals at an early age. They want to pick them up, hug them and be chased by the puppy. Those children, lucky enough to reside in a house with a dog, have an idea of what rules pertain to strange dogs outside of the home. But there are thousands of kids that have no idea what a frightened dog is capable of, until it’s too late. Parents should teach respect through both words and actions.
Looks can be deceiving
Some dogs are cute and fluffy and just so gosh darn pettable, but would rather snap at a person’s hand than lick it with appreciation. Some dogs appear scary and prone to lash out at the slightest provocation, but would love a little extra affection. Not all dogs are lovable just as not all dogs are approachable. Parents need to explain to their children that dogs should be admired from a distance.
Please, May I?
Is the urge to pet so obsessive the child can’t let it go? The child should be taught to ask permission to touch before approaching a strange dog. The owner knows their dog best. They know how their dog will behave. Most owners are accommodating, introducing the dog and child, showing the child how to present a hand, where the dog loves to be scratched. Parents must also respect an owner that says no. The dog may not like children or strangers for that matter. Whatever the reason for a denial, parents need to let the matter go and move along.
Leave the working dog to work
Service dogs are no longer restricted to the sight or hearing impaired. There are new and innovative ways to utilize a working dog’s smarts and capabilities. Most often a service dog is wearing a vest, clearly indicating he’s on the job. When a dog is on the job, he shouldn’t be approached. Let him do his job. If a child asks why they can’t pet the dog, explain why. Dogs need to focus on the task at hand their job is important and service dogs take their positions seriously.
A tail wag by any other name
Becoming familiar with canine body language would save a lot of fingers and even a few lives. There are several different types of tail wagging, not all of them indicate happiness and exuberance. If a dog has their tail held high, wagging at a normal to fast pace (Maybe a little butt wiggle thrown in for good measure) then they’re happy and eager to make a new acquaintance. If the wag is low and slow, this may represent a more hesitant and possibly fearful dog. Fearful dogs are more prone to bite when feeling threatened. Parents should teach their children about canine body language. Older kids may find it useful when out with friends and a stray dog is found.
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