When we train dogs, we train dogs to be obedient and gentle. However, it is also a good idea to give your child some rules and lessons about how to approach pets.
As a general rule, children love animals. They love to pet and play with dogs and cats—actually, the entire animal spectrum, like hamsters, snakes and so forth. However, because animals can bite, scratch, or otherwise injure a child, caution is in order for children around friends’ pets. Here are three good talks to have with children about pets.
First, talk to your child about the proper way to approach a pet. Children need to be introduced to friends’ pets, almost like being introduced to people themselves. If a friend has a dog, extend your hand upon greeting it and let it smell your hand for a few seconds. Dogs like to know a person’s scent. Make sure the friend is around while you do this.
Make it clear that they are not to tease a dog, for example, by pulling a its ears or attempting to ride on its back. They are not to play rough with a cat by poking it with a stick. Empathy works here. Stress that animals may see rough play not as play, but as an attack—and they will retaliate by attacking back if they do.
Second, discuss when to approach a pet, even one you know. Do not bother pets when they are eating or try to pull their food or water dish away if they are using them or approaching them. Again, pets may see that as an attack, and even friendly pets will act accordingly.
Similarly, do not approach a new mother dog or cat and try to pet or lift up one of their babies. Pet mothers are super-protective, and will get their guard—and potential attacks—up in response to an incursion.
Third, make sure that your child knows not to approach a strange dog. Strange dogs are not friends’ dogs. Even in a neighbor’s home, an unknown dog can jump up on a child and cause injury or bite. If a dog runs after them or is threatening, they should call for help.
Please contact a facility that specializes in training and pet boarding in Clinton Township MI for more information.