Being around nine, seven and five years old, we thought it was very funny to tease them. Thankfully, my step-mother entered the room, saw our behavior and immediately corrected us. She told us that dogs have feelings, too. Dogs remember who is nice to them and who is mean to them. If you want them to play with you in the future and not be afraid of you, you must always be kind. That was a turning point for me. The simple actions of an adult made a HUGE impact on my child mind.
Now, as an adult myself, I have two pit bulls and two nieces. Both girls are learning how to approach the dogs, be near the dogs, and pet the dogs gently. Yes, occasionally time outs have been given, but I feel even at one and three years old, they’re not too young to learn. Here are some guidelines to help create a safe and peaceful environment for dogs and kids:
1) If you have a child under five, don’t leave him or her alone with a dog no matter how safe you feel the animal is. Children under five do not know the appropriate way to interact with a dog, and may possibly be too rough. A responsible adult should always be there to supervise the interaction and guide the child.
2) A child must ask the owner of the dog if it’s OK to pet their dog. Always check to make sure the dog is friendly before approaching him.
3) Approach animals slowly and quietly. Dogs get frightened sometimes by objects which move quickly or make loud noises.
4) Respect their space, to save your face! When approaching a dog you don’t know, do not put your face in his face.
5) Give your hand. A dog sees by smelling. Allow the dog to smell your hand before you pet him.
* Some of these tips were borrowed from “Pet Safety Tips for Kids” by Patty Letawsky. You can find them at www.prbc.net/misc/Pet_Safety_Tips_for_Kids.doc. Her tips rhyme and are very kid friendly!
Article by Much Love Volunteer Andrea Bossenmeyer