Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teaching Pet Safety Rules to Kids

By Langley Cornwell

The dogs we share our lives with now have never been around young children. The one time that my sister-in-law brought her grandchild to our home, our dogs cowered in the corner of our bedroom during their entire visit.

If we are out taking a walk with our dogs and a young child runs towards us, we step between the child and the dog and divert the kid’s attention. We’re just not sure what would happen. Since we aren’t around kids often, we have not properly socialized our dogs in that area, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

In order to avoid any potential issues, why not err on the side of caution? If you are a parent of young children, it’s important to teach them sound pet safety rules.

If your child is approached by a strange dog

In these circumstances, it’s important to teach your kid to:

• Stand tall and firm, like a tree.
• Keep her hands down at her sides.
• Stare straight ahead. Don’t look at the dog. If your child looks into the dog’s eyes, the dog may interpret that as an invitation to fight.
• Stay still, never try to run away. Dogs have a prey drive and love to chase moving objects, even children.
• Keep quiet. Calling for help or screaming out of fear may scare the dog.
• When the dog loses interest, back away slowly, one step at a time.

If your child follows these steps, most dogs will simply take a few curious sniffs and then turn away. Still, it’s important to let your child know what to do if she is ever attacked by a dog. If the unthinkable happens and a dog attacks, your child must curl up in a tight ball and cover her face with her hands.

Adding a four-legged friend to your family

We all know how important it is to have a family pet. As far as kids are concerned, growing up with a pet is known to teach cooperation, increase self-esteem and help develop nurturing skills. What’s more, bringing a pet into your family allows the creation of an unconditional, loving bond that brings incalculable joy to the household.

Even so, before you bring a pet home it’s your responsibility to teach your kids a few basic rules to protect against issues like scratches and bites, which are often caused by children not understanding that they shouldn’t approach an animal suddenly, chase him, corner him, try to ride him, or yank on his tail.

In these circumstances, it’s important to teach your child to:

• Never approach any animal, even your own pet, when he is eating, chewing on a toy, sleeping, or resting in his crate.
• Avoid approaching an animal from behind.
• Never touch an animal’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth or genitals.
• Don’t make loud noises or abrupt movements when approaching an animal.
• Leave a mother animal alone when she is caring for her young.
• Always pet animals gently. Don’t pull on them or force them to do anything.
• Ask an adult before approaching any animal she doesn’t know.
• If the adult says the pet is friendly, your child should extend her hand with the palm facing up and slowly offer it to the pet for sniffing.
• Stay away from a dog or cat’s waste, which can transfer disease.

A few additional tips to keep in mind:

• Never leave a young child unsupervised with any animal. It’s just not worth the risk.
• Don’t let your child stand near a dog during times of heightened concentration or excitement. For example, the child should cut a wide berth while a dog is eating, when someone rings the doorbell, or when the dog is barking at a person, bird or squirrel, etc. in the yard.
• To encourage bonding, allow your child to offer your pet high-value treats such as CANIDAE TidNips.

Please take this opportunity to teach your child that a pet is a living creature with needs and feelings. As such, they must be cared for and respected. Pets rely on their families for companionship and loving care, and for that small price, they give so much back in return.

Top photo by Mollypop
Bottom photo by Beth Nazario

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. I am often amazed at how many times I am in public with a shelter dog for an event and the kids come running up. I want to shake their parents. Then again - I get lots of adult just petting the dogs without any warning either. If I can catch them in time, I turn the dog and tell the kids to move slowly (and sometimes give the parents "the look"). Good advice!!

  2. Dogs? Just dogs? Is this why cats are so often abandoned or abused or relinquished to shelters? Is this why 70% of cats in shelters never make it out the front door?
    Kids need to learn how to approach and deal with ALL kinds of pets, not just dogs. Yes I see the cat's photo there and I see the non-species-specific guidelines there, which ARE good BUT WHY won't you also come out and mention CATS instead of just mentioning DOGS????

  3. I think I have never read such well written post on this topic before. Really nice.


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