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Friday, September 23, 2011

Mommy, Look at That Dog!!

You and your children are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the park when they suddenly say, “Mommy, look at that dog! Let’s go see him!” This innocent request could turn emotionally and physically harmful for your children if your children don’t know the proper manners for meeting a new dog.

What do you need to know? Bonnie Buchanan, owner of Bon-Clyde Training Center in Sanford, NC and professional dog trainer offers some advice.

“Dogs need to be treated like human strangers,” says Bonnie. Parents should observe the owner and the dog’s body language. Does the dog look relaxed or nervous? Does the owner have control over the dog? Bonnie also notes that “it’s also important to remember that dogs react differently to adults and to children. Children often make faster and jerkier movements that can make a dog nervous. For a dog that hasn’t been ‘kidsocialized’, children can be threatening.”

Here are a few tips to keep your next encounter with a four-legged friend a positive one:
  • The number one rule: Never stare a dog in the eyes. A dog interprets staring as an attempt to be dominant and this can cause a negative reaction from the dog.
  • Always ask the owner’s permission before you approach the dog.
  • Slowly lift the back of your hand for the dog to sniff.
  • Scratch under the chin first. Never pet the top of the head because this is a sign of dominance.
  • Keep your voice soft.
  • If a dog runs up to you, then remain calm, don’t run or scream.

The dog’s owner may not be aware of the dog’s behavior, so watch for these signs and don’t approach a dog if he is doing any of the following:
  • Staring at you intensely
  • Tipped forward on the front feet
  • Ears pressed against the head
These are all signs of aggression and it is best to stay away. If you have any doubt about the dog or owner, then avoid them. Dog bites are 100 percent preventable.

What can you do if your child loves dogs, but you don’t want to make one part of your family just yet? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Training Centers like Bon-Clyde offer a variety of classes and seminars open to the public to observe.
  • Attend fundraisers or dog festivals
  • Attend local dog shows

What can you do if your child is scared of dogs?
  • Find a Therapy Dog volunteer dog. Therapy Dogs are used in nursing homes and hospitals and have undergone special training to be gentle and calm.
  • Encourage the dog owner’s to tell your child something special about the dog.
  • Ask if your child and the dog can “shake hands”.

It is important to remember that dogs will be dogs and even the most well trained dog can have a bad day. Dogs have personalities as unpredictable and complex as humans. It is these personalities that make dogs irresistible to adults and children.

Originally posted on CharlotteMommies

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