A child’s experience with a dog can have a great impact on the way he treats others and respects life. Having a dog as a pet can teach him responsibility, empathy and kindness. It can give him self-confidence. But a dog may find it difficult to understand the way a child may treat it. Most often, a child will hug, cuddle and, at times, scold the dog. Although this way of treating a dog may seem sweet to humans, it can appear threatening to the dog. So, let’s look at a few important dos and don’ts that we must teach our children about dogs.
- Stay away from the dog when it is eating or chewing a treat: Most of us like to eat in peace and dislike the idea of someone putting their hands into our meal. The same holds good for dogs too. Teach your child to stay away from the dog when it has been offered something to eat. Also, only adults should feed the dog.
- Do not try to take any toy the dog is playing with: Teach your child that it is rude to steal toys from dogs, just as it is from other children. Also, develop tolerance in your dog by training it to give up its toy for a reward. Once trained, the dog will give away the toy instead of guarding it aggressively.
- Don’t disturb the dog when it is sleeping: Make your child understand that she should never disturb or startle a dog when it is asleep. Ensure that your dog sleeps in an area where it would not be disturbed.
- Approach a dog only when it looks happy and playful: Through pictures of a dog’s body postures, help your child understand when he should and should not approach a dog. A dog with a relaxed body posture, a high wagging tail, its mouth open and its ears in the natural position is in a playful and happy mood. Your child can safely approach the dog during such times. But if the dog has a stiff posture and looks alert or avoids eye contact or cowers, it may be angry or unhappy. Tell your child never to approach a dog during such times.
- Handle the dog with love and kindness: Like humans, dogs too dislike being handled roughly, although dogs can be trained to tolerate it. Teach your child that it hurts the dog when he climbs or steps on it. It is also irritating to the dog when he puts his face into the dog’s face. Also, teach your child to avoid screaming around a dog, as a dog is more sound-sensitive than humans and loud sounds can hurt its ears. Gestures like pinching, tugging the ears or the tail, or hugging can also annoy the dog.
It is important to teach both the dog and your child to understand and respect each other. But never leave your young child alone with the dog. Also, choose the right breed of dog for a family pet. With these tips, go ahead and encourage your child to bond with man’s best friend.