A recent BYOD poll revealed 38% of our followers did not know kids were the most common dog bite victims. April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, and we want to share with pawrents the best way to introduce kids to dogs.
The number one recommendation we have is to never leave children and dogs alone. A responsible adult should always be present to monitor how both parties are behaving and interacting with each other.
TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT DOGS
Our pack believes no age is too young to start learning about responsible pet ownership. Talking to the kids in your life about animals may not seem like an important conversation topic, but the discussion will build a foundation of compassion for pets and wildlife.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides a list of topics to discuss with children about dogs. A couple of common warnings to kids include: avoid unknown dogs, always ask the owners or dog handlers for permission before petting their dog, and to respect a dog’s personal space with a crate/bed.
The AVMA list provides parents with great conversation starters that are child appropriate, but you may also need to take age and education level into account. If they’re ready for it, National Geographic Kids have a book and a video, How to Speak Dog.
TALKING TO STRANGER’S KIDS ABOUT DOGS
It has happened to almost every dog owner. You’re on a walk or hanging out at the park, and a child comes up wanting to pet your dog. Since it’s someone else’s kid, you don’t want to be rude, but you’re right to have reservations, especially if you know your dog is not ready to interact with children.
If you know your dog should not be around children, be polite and straightforward with the child. Ask them, “Please do not come closer.” Don’t feel bad or apologize; you have a responsibility towards your dog, and there can be a number of reasons from illness to behavior for keeping them back.
Another tip for pawrents with pups in training is tying a yellow ribbon on the leash; the Yellow Dog Project is a global movement to give your dog space.
INTRODUCING KIDS AND DOGS
Having a dog in the family is a wonderful opportunity for kids to have a companion and learn responsibility. You need to remember if your child is getting a dog, so are you, and if you’re bringing a child into your family, so is your dog.
The first step is learning for yourself nervous dog body language (see chart above for a quick reference). As a responsible dog owner, you need to know how to recognize the signs of your dog, both happy and intimidated. By knowing the signs, you can better monitor the interactions between your dog and child.
You should also tell your children to not approach dogs suddenly, give dogs hugs and kisses, and no pulling any part of the dog. Instead, teach them how to gently pet and approach the dog with caution.
It is important to remember introducing pups and children is an ongoing process. As kids get older, they will understand more things about the world, and the conversations you start today will pay off down the road.
In case the introduction doesn’t go according to plan, BYOD also has tips for preventing dog bites here.