My day is filled with people coming up to me to pet my furry friends. I get it! It’s hard to resist wagging tails and big puppy eyes, especially for children. And while there is nothing more adorable than children and dogs playing together, not every dog will get along with every child. As a busy NYC dog walker, here are some steps every parent and child should follow:
Ask The Owner
This tip is for anyone, not just kids. But, because of kid’s impulsive mindset, they are likely to see a dog they want to pet, and start running quickly towards them, catching them by surprise. This frightens the dog, and because children may not recognize their disposition, too much aggravation will cause the dog to snap out of fear. So always ask the owner if your child can pet their dog no matter how friendly they may seem.
If the owner says yes to the dog being approached, bending down to the dog’s level and facing sideways is the best non-threatening body position. Facing a dog head-on will make them feel uncomfortable and sometimes threatened.
Let Them Sniff
For humans, looking someone straight in the eye is a sign of being engaged. But, for dogs, they need to use their strong sense of smell first to get to know you. Keeping your body in the sideways position mentioned above is a perfect sign invitation for the dog to sniff you.
Go For The Safe Zone
Although it’s intuitive to reach for the top of a dog’s head, many take this as an invasion of personal space (because wouldn’t you?) A “safe zone” that is guaranteed to make tails wag is under the neck and the chest.
So next time your child needs a homework break, teach them these steps on your own pet or stuffed animals. The quicker they learn the better experiences they will have, and the more likely they will be life long dog lovers!