Every now and then I hear very sad stories how a dog has injured and child, or even worse. This always makes me very thoughtful as I know that children are loving and most of them really adore dogs, but it is this friendliness that can get them into trouble. It is therefore very important that all parents teach their children the calm and controlled way that will be best when approaching a dog they are not familiar with so that any problems are prevented.
Personally I think that all children should ask their parents, as well as the owner of the dog, if it is okay to approach the dog. If the owners are not around then just admire the dog from a distance and carry on by. Once the child has been told it’s okay to approach the dog they should do this slowly, and with the palm of their hand facing upwards so that the dog can smell their hand, and then the child should gently tickle, or scratch the dog under their chin. Depending on the size of the dog it might be a good idea for the child to squat down so that the dog does not see the child as a threat, if they are a lot taller than the animal. Us dogs do not like being threatened in this way.
In fact, speak to us in a nice soft gentle voice and do not look directly into our eyes and some dogs can see this as threatening them. That’s when they might bark out, or bite.
Don’t forget, just because you saw a dog being well behaved and sitting when asked, for example, it might not have been socialised and been taught how to behave around children. I am not saying never trust a dog, but children need to be careful with strange dogs until they know for sure that they are friendly.
One final word of warning is that hugging a dog is not always a good idea. If you are family and we are snuggling up to you on the sofa then maybe a hug is nice. Sometimes though hugs are seen by dogs as invading in on their personal space, and children may even hug us too tightly and hurt us.
Just like most adults we like to be friends with everyone, but until we are sure that you are not going to hurt us, or our master, then be careful especially if children are involved.