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Children and Dogs

Understanding the Dynamic: The relationship between dogs and children is a delicate dance, one that requires understanding, patience, and respect from both parties. Dogs, with their innate instincts and keen senses, often perceive children as members of their pack, albeit smaller and less experienced. Likewise, children are drawn to dogs with an innate sense of wonder and curiosity, viewing them as playmates and confidants.

Children and dogs

However, it's essential to recognise that each dog is unique, with its own temperament, personality, and boundaries. Similarly, children vary in their behaviour, energy levels, and understanding of canine cues. Therefore, it's crucial to facilitate positive interactions while instilling mutual respect and safety. Children and dogs should not be left unsupervised. Teach children to approach dogs calmly and respectfully, asking for permission before petting or interacting with them.

Establishing Boundaries and Guidelines: When introducing dogs and children, setting clear boundaries and guidelines is paramount. Teach children the importance of respecting the dog's space, not approaching them while they eat or sleep, and avoiding behaviours that may startle or provoke the dog, like pulling of the fur, ears or tail. Even something as innocent as a tight hug can cause fear in dogs. Children should also avoid running up behind an unknown dog or approaching closely on a scoter/bike/skateboard. Running and screaming can set off a dog's prey-drive so children should be reminded to stay calm around unknown dogs. Set clear rules and expectations for behaviour around dogs, enforcing consequences for actions that endanger the well-being of both children and dogs. Teach children to redirect their energy into positive activities, such as playing fetch or teaching tricks, rather than roughhousing or teasing dogs.

Never approach a dog that is:

  • sleeping

  • eating

  • injured or sick

  • in its kennel, on its bed or in a car

  • tied up

  • training.

Leave a dog alone if:

  • it lifts its lips and shows its teeth

  • it turns its head away from your hand or backs away

  • is showing 'whale eye' (the whites of their eyes are showing)

  • it is crouching down low, has its ears flat against its head, or its tail tucked between its legs. This could mean that the dog is frightened and could be just as dangerous as an aggressive dog.

Teaching children to respect dogs is a fundamental aspect of responsible pet ownership and compassionate living. By instilling awareness, boundaries, communication, discipline, empathy, and friendship, parents and educators can empower children to develop meaningful relationships with dogs based on trust, kindness, and mutual respect. As much as we love our dogs, they are still animals and if their signs of discomfort or distress are not read, it can lead to a dangerous interaction.


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