What child can resist the soft fur and wagging tail of a dog? Whether you have one at home or not, most kids will try to pet first and ask for permission, later.
With fall around the corner, you and your family may be starting to enjoy walks around the neighborhood. Of course, you will likely be joined by the neighborhood dogs and their families as well.
Here’s what you can do to help your child stay safe while meeting new dogs.
Talk before you walk
Once your child spots a new friend, they may not be listening to your panicked warnings. Talk to your child about what to do when they see a new dog. Before every walk, go over what to do until the right behaviors become a habit.
When you talk to your child, remind them to have good dog manners, such as:
- Asking the owner’s permission before approaching a new dog
- Walking up to a new dog slowly
- Letting the dog sniff your child’s hand before touching
- Avoiding being face to face with a dog
- Thanking the owner, whether your child gets to pet the dog or not
Keep in mind, no matter how cautious you are around dogs, they are animals and may act in unpredictable ways. If a dog owner lets your child pet their dog, watch carefully so that you can intervene if the dog starts to show signs of aggression.
Some dogs perceive children as a threat
There are more than enough stories of small children getting bit by dogs to be shy about letting your child approach a new dog. Part of preventing a dog attack, however, is understanding why a dog might be aggressive in the first place.
While your child may seem sweet and innocent to you, when a dog meets a child that is about the same size, the dog may see the child as a threat. Some dogs are not raised with children or do not encounter them often. A dog will assume that the small child is going to start a fight for dominance, and the dog may try to win.