Talking Points for a Conversation About Dogs with Kids!

June 21, 2022

The other day I saw a trainer with a reactive dog. He was barking at a kid who must have been 5 or 6 years old. Enough to fluster a lot of people but the parent was calm and just shrugged and said “Buddy not all dogs like new people – but that’s okay. Lots of dogs are sweet and would love to play with you. Give this guy some space, it’s no biggie”. By not escalating the situation further this parent brought a high-stress incident down to a minor hiccup. Very admirable and cool to watch. If your little one is interested in dogs but sometimes get spooked – here are some talking points to help them learn about good manners with our furry friends.

Don’t Assume a Dog is Friendly

This one might seem obvious, but as a tried-and-true dog lover it’s sometimes difficult to accept. Not all Golden Retrievers are happy go-lucky and not all Toy breeds like being held 24/7. Assumptions about a breed can lead you to behave in a way that could irritate the dog or the owner or even get you snapped at. It is best to guess all dogs need space until told by the owner that it is okay to approach them.

Do Always Ask First

Asking permission from a pet owner is still the best route even if the dog is the one initiating the belly rub session; it’s easy, and ensures everyone feels comfortable. It also lets them set the tone by leading their dog into the situation. For example, if training, they may want to have the dog lay down before you approach so let them initiate the interaction.

Don’t Sneak Them Food/Treats

Some breeds have to be very careful about weight gain (like King Charles Cavaliers) because of their propensity for heart problems. Because of this, their owners have to keep a watchful eye on how much sodium and general calories they consume each day, more so than a Lab parent per say.

Do Be Gentle

Even if your dogs at home are used to rough-housing, it’s always better to give some soft pats and love to a stranger’s dog as you don’t know their background or history. Between the ears and on their haunches are safe bets of places they are dying to be scratched.

Don’t Stick Your Hand Out Quickly

If the dog owner gives the green light, offer your hand to the dog with your palm facing up and let them come to you. This helps them get familiar with your scent as well as other smells on your clothes – like dog or cat hair from your own pets or even what fabric softener you use. A dog’s nose can tell a lot; and with over 300 million oral factory receptors that’s no surprise.

Do Enjoy It!

Soak up all the love. Friendly pups live for moments like this. The list is just to serve as a reminder that there are lots of dogs out there and some will act differently than the ones at home but they all deserve love and respect – just like us!