Owning a pet at an early age can be a wonderful experience for any child. Not only do kids become more active with pets, but they also learn a wide variety of valuable lessons like responsibility and compassion. The first thing kids must learn about pets, however, is how to be safe around them.
Whether it is a dog you know, one you've never met, or even your own pet, there are certain ways your child should approach a dog.
It is important to know as much about the individual breed traits as possible before getting a dog as there are predictable qualities and needs of each breed. For example – some breeds are better with children. See the list – go to: Top Dog Breeds for Families
Here are some steps kids should take before petting any dog. Ask permission: It's very important to ask a dog's owner first if you can pet the dog. Not every dog reacts the same way to strangers petting them, and the owner will know if the dog is friendly and if it is safe for you to approach.
Approach calmly: If the owner says yes, make a fist, extend your hand slowly to the dog, and let him sniff the back of your hand. Dogs recognize people by scent, so letting him sniff your hand lets him become familiar with you.
Where to pet: Once the dog has sniffed your hand, pet him gently under the chin or on the chest.
Don't hug dogs: Kids should never hug a dog. Dogs don't hug each other, and they don't understand hugs to mean love and affection like humans do. Wrapping your arms around a dog can stress him out and lead to an unnecessary bite.
Keep your chin up: Never put your face down in front of a dog. This can be threatening to the dog and cause him to react.
Here is a good article everyone should read – How to Protect Yourself from Dog Bites. Go to: How to Protect Yourself From Dog Bites
About the AKC
To learn more about responsible dog ownership and for more information on all 175 AKC-registered dog breeds and how to care for them, visit www.MeetTheBreeds.com.