Dogs are the most popular pets in America, you probably have a few friends or family members that have one. You may even have one! There are certain steps you need to take to ensure that you safely introduce a new dog to your child.
I still see so many kids that don’t know how to properly interact with dogs and it can be so dangerous.
This is for the benefit of both the children and the dogs.
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It is difficult to teach these techniques to a baby or toddler. They are still too young to understand. Make sure that if any kind of pet is around, there is an adult to supervise at all times.
You may think that your dog is the best dog in the world and would never hurt a fly, but they are still animals. They get scared and the only way they know how to react is by protecting themselves.
More bites happen to children than to adults because children make sudden movements. They may accidentally step on the dog’s tail, they are loud, etc.
Most dogs don’t mean to bite, it is just their instinctual reaction. It is up to us as parents to teach our kids the proper way to act around a dog. Whether it be our own, a family member’s, or a stranger’s.
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- How to Prepare your Dog for a New Baby
- How to Keep a House Clean with Pets
How to Safely Introduce a New Dog to your Child
Teach that Dogs Feel Too
I have started teaching my toddler that she has to be very gentle around our dogs. I tell her that it hurts them when they get stepped or pulled on.
If the dog walks or runs away, she is not to chase them. That is their way of saying that they want to be left alone. If they want to play, they will come back to her.
Always Ask Permission
Let your child know that they are never allowed to approach a dog that they do not know. If the dog is on a leash, they can ask the owner if it is alright to pet the dog.
If the owner says that it is OK, teach them to hold out a closed fist to let the dog sniff. If the dog turns away, then they need to leave it alone since it doesn’t want to interact.
Let your child know that they can try another day, the dog just doesn’t want to be petted today.
The Proper Way to Pet
If the dog does come toward their outstretched fist, tell them to pet the dog very gently on it’s back for about 5 seconds.
If the dog shows interest after that then they can continue to pet them. Tell them not to touch the dog’s face, ears, feet, belly, or tail as these are the most sensitive areas of a dog.
Teaching Kids to be Safe Around Dogs
Don’t Play Rough
Teach your child that they can play with a dog that they know but to still be gentle. Dogs may get too excited during rough play and accidentally nip or bite a child.
Also, the child may step on the dog or hurt them, too. Let your child know that they can play with the dog and the dog’s toys.
They can throw a ball for them to fetch, or play tug o’ war. Always supervise when they play.
Don’t go Near the Dog’s Food
A lot of dogs get aggressive or territorial around their food our treats. Teach your child not to go around their food bowls or near the dog when they are eating.
You may even want to put up a baby gate to keep them away from that area.
Let your child know that if a dog is behind a fence, in a crate, tied to a tree, or sleeping, they are not to approach them.
When a dog feels confined, they may get aggressive or anxious. They need to be left alone.
If you start teaching your child how to respect a dog and their space using these tips early on, you shouldn’t have to worry about their safety when they meet a new dog.
Kids love dogs and they can be the best of friends. I always had a dog growing up and I think I always will. I can’t imagine not having one, they are my second kids.
I want all of my kids to get along and I plan on teaching my daughter all of these rules. For more tips, you can check out:
Kids and Dogs: A Professional’s Guide to Helping Families
Do you have any other tips for how you safely introduce your child to a new dog?
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