For many children in New Jersey, sighting a dog is something to be excited about. Often, a child’s reaction to noticing a four-legged friend may be to immediately run up to the pet and attempt to pet it. However, parents and guardians should be encouraging their children to be cautious when approaching an unknown animal and to ask for permission before they try to pet the animal.
Because one can never be sure that an animal, they have never met is going to be comfortable with being approached, it is imperative that people take precautions and respect the animal’s boundaries to protect themselves from a preventable bite or injury. Because children are much more likely to startle a dog with their quick and sometimes noisy behavior, parents should make it a priority to teach their children about what behaviors are appropriate around dogs and which should be avoided to reduce their risk of being hurt.
According to Pet Assure, one of the most important concepts that parents can teach their children is the importance of being gentle. They should discourage their children from hitting or pinching a dog, pulling its tail or ears, and putting their hands around the dog’s face. Likewise, children should understand that dogs that are grooming or eating should be left completely alone.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that equally as important as instructing children to be safe and calm around dogs, parents should reiterate that dogs are fun and can be fantastic companions. Children that are not afraid of dogs are know how to confidently treat them may be much more effective in avoiding behaviors that can be viewed as threatening to an unsuspecting animal.