While the dog often gets the blame, there are two sides to every story when it comes to bite cases. Many children are not taught how to properly interact with a dog. Instead, the dog is expected to just “take” whatever treatment the child is giving, including tail pulls, hard pats and strangling hugs. Leah Hatley and Justine Schuurmans, owners of The Family Dog, are trying to change all that. Their company offers an online program geared toward families with children and dogs that teaches both how to interact appropriately with each other. Hatley shared with us the 10 things your children need to know about dogs.
#1 – Dogs have feelings too
Respecting their feelings by giving them choices is the best way to make lasting friendships. So when you want to meet a dog, always invite her over to you by bending down and patting your leg. If she comes to see you, great, you can give her a little scratch under the chin.
#2 – Dogs like kids they can trust
Show dogs that they can count on you to only do things they like. If you’ve invited a dog over and she doesn’t come, leave her be! She might only feel comfortable around people she knows well. By showing her that you respect her choices, she’ll know that you can be trusted and will be more likely to seek affection from you when she’s ready.
#3 – Dogs can talk
Yep. It’s true. Dogs CAN talk, but not with words, they use their bodies. Only invite dogs over whose bodies are wiggly and relaxed. Look at their eye and ears for clues about how they’re feeling too. Check out this body language video to learn your dog’s secret language!
#4 – Dogs aren’t stuffed animals
Most dogs are uncomfortable with people reaching over their heads and feel trapped by hugs and kisses. So if you want to show your love by giving someone a big squeeze, just make sure it’s a human friend or a stuffed dog.
#5 – Dogs like gentle petting
Save the rough pats for your buddies on the field! If you want to pet a dog, be super gentle, always use one hand, and pet collar to tail, so you aren’t tempted to turn that pet into a hug.
#6 – Dogs don’t like bossy kids
No one wants a bossy friend, especially not one that ruins all of their fun! So if your dog is doing something really naughty, call your parents and let them play bad cop so you can keep being the fun friend. (Parents, this is for their safety too. A lot of dog’s may guard from kids or not let go of something, resulting in an inappropriate game of tug.)
#7 – If it’s on the floor, it belongs to the dog
It’s “finder’s keepers” in the dog world. So if you’ve left your shoes out, your pup considers them fair game. Instead of taking away the shoe he thinks is his, call your parents and let them trade the shoe for something your dog thinks is even better (but that he’s allowed to have) like a yummy treat.
#8 – Dogs like different apologies
If you accidentally step on your dog or scare him, you might be tempted to give him a hug to say you’re sorry. BUT WAIT! Dogs don’t really like hugs. Instead, show your dog you’re sorry in a way he’s sure to love by tossing a hand full of treats on the floor for him to gobble up. Apology accepted!
#9 – Dogs love kids who know when to stay and when to walk away
Just like people, dogs have times when they want to play and times when they just want to be left alone. Show all the dogs you know that you totally get it and walk away when they are tied up, in a crate, eating food, chewing on something or resting.
#10 – Dogs love to play!
If you’re one of the kids that knows how to respect dogs, then you’re just the kind of kid that dogs will want to cut loose and play with too. Toss a ball for your dog, hide treats around the kitchen or make an obstacle course for her to weave her way through. Playing games your dog likes is a sure-fire way to make friends for life.