A Guide for Your Kid to Pet Dogs
The relationship between children and pets is unique. Dogs can be anything to youngsters, from playmates and crime partners to teachers and comforters. However, there is a learning curve in any new partnership.
Children who do not understand how to engage with dogs may unwittingly agitate them, resulting in a bite or assault or a stressed dog. Even the most loving dogs have bad days, and there’s only so much compassion they can have when a toddler pulls on their tail.
Dogs can suffer as a result of such incidents. Jennifer Shryock, a licensed animal behavior consultant with a degree in special education, stated that people would call to surrender their dog because of occurrences with children. That’s why she started Family Paws, which “offers customized training and assistance for new and expecting dog parents.”
According to Shryock, the more knowledge supplied to people, the more comfortable they are with dogs. “Kids and parents are empowered when they gain confidence and know what to look for.” She believes that teaching children about dog safety is never too early. “It’s the same as learning a new language.”
It takes more than a parent to teach children how to properly pet pets. It’s something that every dog owner should be aware of in order to avoid or de-escalate future mishaps. Here’s everything you need to know about teaching children about dog safety.
Ask for permission and don’t assume that the answer will be “yes”
Teaching children how to pet dogs is first and foremost about instilling consent. It all starts with asking for permission, but there are some restrictions on who you should ask for permission from in the first place, according to experts.
“Ask the owner for permission before exposing your child to a new dog,” said Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale. “They’ll have a thorough understanding of how their dog reacts to new people, particularly children. You’ll want to make sure that’s not the case because some rescue dogs have had traumatic prior experiences that cause them to be hostile toward children.”
Because even the most honest and compassionate dog owner may not know how their dog will react to your child, says Kevin Ryan of Superb Dog, it’s always better if this person is someone you know and trust.
“If the dog owner does not have children of their own and has never had a problem with adult friends and relatives caressing the dog, a youngster may be a new experience for the dog, and you don’t want to be the one to find out how they will react. It’s ideal if the dog is used to being around youngsters and is relaxed with them “Ryan stated.
Shryock believes that asking to pet a stranger’s dog is too risky in general, because you’re essentially making a lot of assumptions about that individual. “Since when have we trusted a stranger with our safety information?”
In general, she believes it is not a good idea for unfamiliar youngsters to approach unfamiliar canines. “Too many variables exist. Dogs have poor days due to the context of the surroundings, other stimuli present, and a lack of understanding.” Instead, Shryock prefers to indicate that her dog enjoys performing tricks, which is a non-contact option.
Pay attention to the dog’s body language
After you’ve received permission, pay attention to the dog’s body language for signals of nervousness or discomfort. This is how a dog expresses their dislike about being stroked. “Back off if the dog moves away, pins their ears back, or otherwise appears scared or hesitant,” said Megan Marrs, a dog trainer and founder of the dog care website K9 of Mine. “From dogs, we always seek enthusiastic consent.”
When Shryock teaches this to children, she refers to it as “doggy detective” work. “We talk about ‘looking at the ears, eyes, tail, and muzzle to solve the problem.'”
It’s crucial to collect all available “clues” because different dogs express pain in different ways, so merely looking at their face or tail could not reveal anything.
“Believe what you’re seeing,” Shryock advises in general. That may seem self-evident, but some people believe they are the exception. “People seem to believe that they can persuade the dog to change his mind. That isn’t your function if you aren’t one of their trusted individuals.”
Invite the dog to join you
If there are no warning indications, the next step is to stroke your leg and entice the dog over. Rather of you approaching the dog, inviting the dog to you provides them the opportunity to “opt out.”
If the dog refuses to be petted, Shryock suggests providing alternatives to touching. “We can kiss, wave, and speak about how beautiful the puppy is, but opting out is opting out.”
Pat/pet, pet, pause
If the dog has enthusiastically accepted the invitation, the next step is to begin caressing the dog using the “pat/pet, pet, pause” technique. It’s a matter of waiting to see if the dog wants to continue playing, because “that third pet could be an issue,” Shryock added. “So we’ll take a break and see if the dog still wants to play?”
“If the dog approaches, you can pet the dog,” Marrs added, referring to it as “pat, pet pause” since the “pat” alludes to touching your thigh as an invitation for the dog to approach. “Pause for a few seconds and wait for the dog to respond. Have at it if the dog noses at you, glances at you, or leans towards you, indicating that they want to be petted. We can interpret the dog’s movement, or even his inaction, as a ‘no, thanks.'”
Remember, according to Marrs, that a dog’s level of comfort might alter at any time, which is why it’s crucial to keep checking. “He might be happy with head scritches one minute, but five minutes later he might not be.”
Teaching kids how to properly pet
Every dog has their own preferences for how and where they want to be petted, but it’s crucial to teach kids how not to pet first, because these guidelines apply to almost all dogs and breaking them could be deadly.
- Avoid approaching from behind or making abrupt movements – “Tell your youngster not to make any sudden lunges or loud vocalizations and to remain quiet and calm. Sound and movement both thrill dogs, so keep it to a minimum,” Ryan said.
- Don’t get in their face or establish eye contact – Making eye contact is a sign of respect for humans, but it can be perceived as a threat by dogs. Getting too near to their face is also a no-no.
- Don’t stroke their hair – “It might be terrifying for dogs to have a stranger put their entire hand up and over their heads. Imagine being attacked by a huge “Marrs said.
- Don’t pull their tails or ears – Hopefully this is self-evident.
- Don’t hug them – Did you know that dogs dislike being hugged? Wrapping your arms around your dog may seem like a loving gesture, but it actually makes them feel imprisoned and insecure.
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Information source: Mashable