I can’t stress how important it is from an early age to teach your children how to interact correctly with dogs.
As a mum and a dog trainer, I often see people unknowingly doing silly things involving kids and dogs. Being unaware of the danger that these simple things can cause is potentially putting the dog or child at risk.
There have been too many dog attacks on kids in the news lately and it saddens me to think that in many cases with a bit of education, some of these things could have been avoided. Bites are usually a last resort. So, it is likely that the dog has given some kind of warning that they are stressed or unhappy in a situation, but this sign has been missed.
Setting these rules with your children from the very beginning is so important. As soon as your baby is no longer a fragile newborn and starts to see your dog and becomes interested, start teaching them about the rules and boundaries around your dog and other dogs.
Here are the most important rules you can teach your child about interacting with dogs:
Teach them to be gentle.
This is an obvious one… but again, so often I see kids being rough with dogs and their parents just watching them do it. This isn’t good enough.
Teach your child how to be gentle with a dog. Show them how to pat them nicely. Tell them that the dog likes it when we are nice and gentle with them. Show them by example and give your child lots of praise, reward and encouragement when they are doing the right thing.
Teach them to always ask before patting a stranger’s dog.
Don’t just stick your hand in a strange dog’s face for them to have a sniff. Some dogs won’t tolerate this.