November 2017: Vets Advice
Teaching your children how to behave around dogs is really important.
Teaching children to be safe around dogs
Teaching your children how to behave around dogs is really important. The family dog may be very tolerant, however not all dogs will respond well to being stroked backwards or being prodded - for some dogs even being approached by a stranger can be very stressful.
You can teach children basic rules for how to behave around dogs but also do remember that as an adult you should be watching out for any situations that could become dangerous.
Meeting a new dog: Always ask the owner for permission before approaching their dog, this gives the owner a chance to say if they are afraid of strangers or children. Greet them by holding out the back of a hand with fingers folded to allow the dog to sniff you first.
How to stroke a dog: Always check where a dog likes to be stroked from the owner as some dogs will not like having their head or feet touched. Always stroke in the direction that the fur lies in rather than going against the fur. Teach children to never pull a dog’s ears or poke around eyes.
Showing affection: It is safest to tell children not to hug or kiss dogs - for some dogs this can be frightening.
Teasing: Teach your child never to take food or toys away from a dog. Dogs should be left alone when eating, drinking or sleeping. If a dog has a crate that they go to for peace and quiet, teach children to leave them alone when they are in the crate so they have a safe haven they can go to.
Chasing: If a playful dog is paying your child too much attention, teach them to stand still with their arms crossed out of the way and to look away from the dog. If a puppy or dog chases them, they should stand still as this will stop the game. A child chasing a dog can cause them to become overexcited which can lead to dogs nipping. Teach children to be quiet and calm around dogs.
There are some brilliant videos and free teaching resources on the Dogs Trust website and they are also currently offering free dog safety workshops for parents and children. The Blue Dog website also has advice and a CD you can buy with additional guidance. As a final important note, never leave children unattended with a dog, even a dog that you think you know well. Children’s behaviour can be unpredictable and we cannot predict how any dog may respond to this.