Children and Dogs How to Approach Dogs

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Children and Dogs How to Approach Dogs

by Rena Murray

Most parents want their children to be comfortable around dogs. However, most adults do not realize the common mistakes they often make in their own approach to dogs. These can lead to nasty results, and bring trauma to both child and adult.

Remember, dogs express themselves through body language and some tones of barking. They do not speak to you in your native tongue: "Leave me alone, I'm having a bad day" or "Leave me alone, I am old and hurting." Instead, they might give a low growl and show of the top canines (only) as a warning. That is frequently misinterpreted as an aggressive threat, when all it really means is "Leave me alone, I mean it!" Frequently, they will just move away. Respect that. That is a sign of avoidance. If your dog's warning is not respected, the dog may snap at whomever who pushes too far.

Some people try to make their children comfortable around dogs by saying excitedly: "Oh look, there's a doggy! Look at the doggy!" (That drives me nuts.) The well-intentioned, misguided adult shows excitement, which creates two negative things here. It is negative for both a calm dog and an excited or nervous dog. The calm dog will usually look at you like your are crazy, he may move away and want nothing to do with you, and certainly he will not welcome interaction with you, even if he tolerates it.

An excited dog and an excited person are a bad mix. It creates a "pushy" mentality in the dog. He could jump and knock the child or an elderly person down. It is very dangerous even for the young and fit, as many know who have been tripped up and injured this way.

First, no one should EVER come up to a dog excitedly. To the dog, that is a rude behavior. In a dog pack, they discipline one another for that, and a mother dog would have her pup on the ground instantly! Show the dog some respect, and let him smell you before you advance. Dogs always smell one another before even thinking about getting to know a new guy. We carry scents which tell dogs a lot about us, where we have been, whether we have had experience with dogs, our level of excitement or nervousness, and so forth. You cannot fool them. Without the opportunity to "read" this information, however, dogs become insecure, and that can be risky.

Second, never pet a dog without asking the owner first. The dog may be nervous around strangers or children, or may have had some recent surgery, injury, or something else that would make him fearful or protective. The dog could also be in training, and you could disrupt that.

When greeting a new dog or one who does not really know you, always hold your palm out straight for the dog to sniff your hand ? just like you would do in feeding treats to a horse. Let's debunk the myth about extending the back of your hand. That is much easier for the dog to bite, and prevents you from other motions you might need to make. Instead, extend the PALM of your hand.

Always explain to your child the do's and don'ts with each animal. For very little ones, take the child's hand and show him how a dog likes to be petted. Monitor and control the situation. Young children and dogs should not be alone together unsupervised unless they know each other extremely well.

There are right and wrong ways to do things with animals. The faster the truth gets out, the more successes there will be with happy children and dogs, and the more dog bites and dog attacks will be avoided!

GET HELP from Rena Murray at the Dog Obedience Training website. An accomplished Dog Behavior Modification expert, Dog Obedience Trainer, and Platinum Expert Author, Rena provides self-help Articles and free "Best Ezines"-recognized newsletter: PAW PERSUASION POINTERS to help you better understand communication and control of your dogs, debunk dog training myths, explore right and wrong dog training techniques for specific situations, address destructive dog behavior, excessive and obsessive dog behavior, and other canine issues, from new puppy to old dog. Subscribe for free at, visit Rena's BLOG -, find the dog products, crates, and gifts you need at, and Contact Rena for Coaching

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