No matter how big dogs are, four-legged friends are cuddly playmates for children who need to be petted and hugged immediately. However, this can be dangerous for children. Therefore, every child should know how to properly deal with a dog.
Most children are fond of animals. For them, they are fluffy plush toys that they would like to hug and hug extensively. While small animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs or mice can often endure this and are not as defensive anyway, larger animals such as cats or dogs can get a bit rabid.
Dogs in particular can become dangerous for children if they feel pressured and, in the worst case, can even bite. So it is important for a dog, owner, and children to adhere to certain rules when dealing with each other. We want to explain exactly what these are.
1. Every dog is different
Children should learn that even if dogs look similar, they can be completely different. Some dogs are very curious and open-minded, others are super fearful and shy. So if you meet a dog you don’t know yet, you should keep your distance. Because you never know how the dog reacts to strangers.
2. Always get the dog owner’s permission
Nobody just wants to be touched by a stranger, that applies equally to humans and animals. Therefore, children should know that they should always check with the dog’s owner before petting him, to protect himself and the dog.
3. Don’t stare into a dog’s eyes
If two dogs meet that do not yet know each other, you can watch them staring at each other. Both of them explore who is stronger. If a dog looks away, the situation is clear. The two have agreed on their ranking. If neither of the two gives in, two dogs would clarify their ranking through a fight.
Up to a certain height, children and dogs meet at eye level: if a child stares firmly into the dog’s eyes, he can also conceive of staring as a threat. As is common among fellow species, the dog will try to clarify the ranking. If necessary, also with full physical exertion.
4. Don’t run away from a dog
We humans have something like an instinct to flee. If we are a little scared, we will run away. Children especially react this way when they are afraid. Dogs, in turn, have an innate hunting instinct. That means if something runs away from them, they run after them.
So you should teach children not to run away in panic when a dog approaches them, but instead to walk away or stop. On the one hand, the dog is always faster than the child, on the other hand, running away encourages him to chase after him even more.
So children should stop, hang their arms next to their bodies, not touch the dog and not look them directly in the eye. Usually, dogs lose interest so quickly.
Most dog owners call their dogs back and leash them when there are children around. But especially in designated areas where dogs are allowed to run free, there is a risk of unwanted contact. If children are sensitized to handling dogs, there is usually no danger.
5. Never pull a dog’s tail
A dog’s tail is not only very sensitive but is also a tool for him to communicate. Dogs don’t like to be held on the tail. Therefore, a child should never pull a dog’s tail.
6. Leave the dog’s upbringing to the adults
Dogs are pack animals that live in a certain order. The strong set the tone and the weak must follow. It is the same in a family with a dog. And the four-legged friend understands very well that children are also weaker than adults because they have to obey certain ‘commands’ of the adults. For the dog, a child, also within the family, is therefore often weaker than him.
If a child now rules a dog, he does not take it seriously, even feels threatened in an unfavorable case, and defends himself. So that this does not happen, children should learn that the dog’s upbringing also falls into the hands of adults.
7. Don’t play alone with a dog
Children under the age of 12 should not be left alone with a dog. This also applies to play together. Because the game can quickly become serious. Therefore, there should always be an adult who can intervene in an emergency.
8. Do not disturb a dog when eating
One of the first rules that children should learn when dealing with an (own) dog is that you should never disturb a dog when eating or even try to take something away from it. Because a dog will always defend its food, i.e. its prey. If you get too close, the dog will react with growls and maybe even bites.
If a dog lives in a household with children, it should be able to eat in peace. You can enable him in an extra room that is forbidden for the children at that moment.
9. Keep your teeth clear
Especially when playing with a dog, it can quickly happen that the dog snatches by the hand or the arm without malicious intent rather than the toy. It can hurt a lot. Children should therefore play carefully with dogs and leave the ‘retrieval’ of the toy to the adults. If the dog snaps at the child, it should shout ‘Aua’ (regardless of whether it hurts or not). A trained dog should then let go immediately.
10. Keep calm
If the dog snaps for the leg or pants or something else, it is important to keep calm. There can be many reasons why a dog reacts this way. This can happen in the game, out of fear, or as evidence of strength. It is important that the child then stays still and does not pull wildly. Because the harder you pull, the harder the dog will bite and try to hold what it has in its mouth.
However, if you keep still, the dog will let go. Because then he loses interest in it.
11. Don’t get involved in dog fights
From the outside, it can look quite dangerous if two dogs fight together. And it can also be the case for a child if, in such a case, it tries to separate the fighting dogs and thus save its dog. In a fight, the dog is only focused on its opponent. He then snaps at everything that comes to his mouth.
Children should never separate fighting dogs and ALWAYS seek adult help. Ideally, of course, the owners of the fighting dogs.
12. Treat dogs like good friends
Children in particular have a lot to learn when dealing with pets. Treating other creatures with respect is also particularly important for children’s development. A dog, like any other pet, should always be treated like a good friend. Children should also learn to correctly interpret the dog’s signals and body language.