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Teaching kids how to approach dogs

American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Owning a pet at an early age can be a wonderful experience for children. Not only do kids become more active with pets, but they also learn a variety of valuable lessons, including responsibility and compassion. The first thing kids must learn about pets, however, is how to be safe around them.

Whether it is a dog you know, one you've never met or even your own pet, there are certain ways a child should approach a dog. The American Kennel Club recommends that kids be taught to take the following steps before petting any dog.

- Ask permission. You should always ask a dog's owner first if you can pet the dog. Not every dog reacts the same way to strangers petting them, and the owner will know if it is safe for you to approach.

- Approach calmly. If the owner says yes, make a fist, extend your hand slowly to the dog, and let him sniff the back of your hand. Dogs recognize people by scent, so letting him sniff your hand lets him become familiar with you.

- Know where to pet. Once the dog has sniffed your hand, pet him gently under the chin or on the chest.


- No hugs. As much as they may want to, kids should never hug a dog. Dogs don't hug each other, and they don't understand hugs to mean love and affection like humans do. Wrapping your arms around a dog can stress him out and lead to an unnecessary bite.

- Keep your chin up. Never put your face down in front of a dog. This can be threatening to the dog and cause him to react.

For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at

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