My daughters, like many children, absolutely LOVE dogs. Although we don’t own a dog, we have many friends and family members who do, and our girls always look forward to playing with and petting the dogs when we visit those homes. But my kids’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm about dogs doesn’t translate to an innate understanding of how to respect and interact with dogs safely. (Ever seen a kid yank on a dog’s tail, try to ride a dog, get in a dog’s face when they are sleeping or eating? Yep, my kids have tried to do all that and more!)
So how do we encourage our kids to enjoy these wonderful pets while staying safe?
Teaching some basic precautions can go a long way. And if you’re not sure where to start, or you think your children or students could use a refresher, I highly recommend the book May I Pet Your Dog? by Stephanie Calmenson. This book teaches dog safety in a way that is easy for children to understand without stirring up an unhealthy fear of dogs.
What makes the book extra fun is that it’s told from the perspective of a dog talking to a little boy. My daughters really enjoyed reading this book and I appreciated the clear presentation of dog safety guidelines. Some of those guidelines include:
- Do not interact with an unknown dog if his/her owner is not there.
- Always ask to pet someone’s dog before touching them or getting too close.
- Be considerate of dogs who are sleeping, eating, caring for puppies or chewing on a bone, toy or stick.
- Be gentle and be kind – remember that dogs have feelings, too!
(Taken from pages 30-31 in May I Pet Your Dog?)
Do you have suggestions for helping kids learn how to interact safely with dogs? Please leave a comment!
Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade