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Tips for teaching kids how to approach dogs

American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Growing up with a pet can be a valuable experience. Pets provide the opportunity to learn important lessons about responsibility and compassion, and kids become more active with pets. The very first thing children must learn about owning a dog is to how to be safe around them.

When greeting a dog, whether it is your own or a stranger's, there are ways a child should approach a pet to ensure safety. The American Kennel Club suggests the following steps that any kid should take before petting a dog.

Ask permission. Always ask a dog owner’s permission before petting a dog. Not all dogs react the same to people petting them, so it’s always good to check with the owner, who knows if it’s safe for you to approach.

Calmly approach. If the owner gives the go ahead to pet their dog, make a fist with your hand, and slowly extend it to the dog. Dogs remember people by scent, so letting them sniff the back of your hand lets them become familiar with you.

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


Avoid hugs. As much as it’s tempting, it’s important that kids never hug a dog. Dogs are not like humans, and they don’t understand that hugs mean love and affection. Dogs can become stressed if your arms are wrapped around them, and this could lead to an unnecessary bite.

Keep your head up. It’s important to never put your face down in front of a dog. The dog may perceive this as threatening and cause him to react.


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