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The Right Way For Kids To Meet Dogs

I have had a lovely couple of weeks where I’ve been going to primary schools to talk about Caring for Pets and The Role of a Vet. I have had a fabulous time and the kids have been such little stars – I’ve really had fun.

It’s been part of the AVA Pet PEP initiative – a great way to educate kids and the rest of the community about how to care for pets, enjoy the benefits of pet ownership and teach children about safe behaviour around dogs. And here’s why it’s a valuable lesson: there are a very high percentage of children that get bitten by dogs by not following a safe routine for meeting new dogs. Often these bites are from dogs belonging to friends or family. And the fault is definitely, more ours as adults than the children or the dogs. Why do I say that? Because there are very few of us who, when visiting at a friend’s house, will actually go through the correct routine of meeting an animal for the first time, leading to a nasty experience for child, dog and adults alike.

So what is the correct process?

  1. Get your child to ask you first before approaching a new/strange animal (or even one that you haven’t seen for a while).
  2. Get your child to ask the owner of the dog if they are friendly and if it would be okay to meet the dog.
  3. If the owner says yes, help you child close her fingers and thumb into a little fist and offer the back of the hand for the dog to sniff.
  4. Allow the dog to approach your child, not your child approach the dog. Allow the dog to sniff her hand.
  5. If the dog is relaxed and happy, you can allow your child to stroke it on the shoulder gently – no big pats, and NOT on its head.
  6. If the dog appears to be showing anxious behaviour or your child is anxious, stop the meeting. Never force a child or dog to greet anyone – you’re asking for trouble if you do.

If all goes well, the dog and your child will be far more relaxed and happy to meet each other again another day – yay!

It’s really a short and sweet plan, but works very well. Give it a try and let us know how you go!

If you have any concerns about your pet’s behaviour, or if you think something is ‘just not right’, give us a call 0481 527 678 or click the button to book an appointment.

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