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Help your child to understand there are certain ways to approach a dog


Steps on patting dogs


  1. You must learn to ask a dog's owner permission before petting their dog and wait for the owner to say yes.

  2. You shouldn’t pat a dog on the head – many dogs find this frightening.

  3. Walk towards the dog and its owner so they can see you coming. Move calmly towards the dog, but don’t move in a straight line – curve around towards the dog.

  4. Let the dog smell the back of your hand – curl your hand into a fist you’re your thumb tucked inside your fingers.

  5. Stroke the dog gently down its back from its collar towards its tail, but avoiding the dog’s head and tail.

  6. Never hug a dog around its neck. This brings your face to close to the dog’s mouth.



Safety around dogs


  • To avoid startling dogs, don't approach or touch them while they're sleeping, fixated on something. Don't corner a dog as this can scare the dog which can then bite.

  • Leave dogs alone when they are eating, whether the dog is eating from a bowl or chewing a treat or any other high-value item. Like people, dogs don't like it when people get between them and their food.

  • Don't reach over or through fences or barriers to pet or touch a dog. Do not approach dogs in cars. Dogs can be protective about their territory and may feel a bit more vulnerable or protective than usual.

  • Dogs can be protective of their family and territory and think it's their job to protect their family so don't enter a property containing a dog if you're not accompanied by the dog's owner.

  • When approached by a strange dog, stand quietly, hands at your sides and avoid eye contact. A dog's natural instinct is to chase, so if you run, a dog may chase.

  • When dogs are tied up outside a shop, don’t approach the dog they know they can't run away so their only defence will be to bite.

  • Never tease, chase or harass a dog.

  • You should never hug a dog around its neck. This brings your face to close to the dog’s mouth.

Helpful tips for mum's and dads

Your child learns best by copying what you do. Teach him to treat all animals gently and kindly, and to never hurt, tease, frighten or surprise an animal. Teach your child not to approach an unfamiliar dog

  • You can show your child how to pat a dog safely using the following steps. You might need to show your child how to do this several times:

  • Make sure your child knows to always ask you if he wants to pat a dog, even if your child knows the dog.

  • You must learn to ask a dog's owner permission before petting their dog, make sure the owner says yes.

  • The dog is sick or injured: pain or discomfort might cause the dog to be less easy going than usual. Give your dog some quiet time/space.

  • Make sure your dog’s sleeping area is in a quiet place away from activity areas, where it can sleep without being disturbed.

  • Children should always be accompanied around dogs, even the family dog.

  • Don't allow your children to attempt to remove anything (toys, food or other objects) from your dog's mouth. Instead, find something of equal or greater value to offer your dog as a trade.

  • Don't leave babies unattended around dogs the babies high pitch crying can trigger dogs into a frenzy by thinking it’s a high pitch squeaker toy.

  • Never let children ambush or force themselves on the puppy. If they want to play, the puppy should be invited over, but do not let the children force the issue if the puppy does not want to go to them. The children must be made to understand the importance of having 'quiet time' with the puppy, and give it space and peace and quiet when it wants it

  • If you are considering bringing a new dog into your family, write down some rules on how to interact with the new arrival

  • The dog is eating or chewing a treat: separate your dog and your child at these times and also at family mealtimes or snack times. Only you or another adult should feed your dog. Don’t let your child play with or near your dog’s food or water bowl.

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