Living in a fairly urban setting means that we walk almost everywhere, which is great for the kids. Our area also happens to be chock full of dogs who are out and about with their owners all the time. It’s not unusual for us to run into at least 3 four-legged friends on our jaunts, and somehow, Aaron knows all of them…by name. Upon meeting a new little terrier friend a few weeks ago (and being told by his owner what a sweet boy I had, cue happy mama moment), I realized that Aaron is so comfortable around dogs because we’ve made it a point to teach good dog manners without even meaning to.
Good dog manners are very important, not just in how children treat their own pets, but in how they respect and view animals as a whole. We have 2 dogs at home, and both of my children are very comfortable with them. They snuggle, play and wrestle, and I have no fear of anything happening. That won’t always be true with every dog we meet. Our Rufio and Gracie are happy to be pet all of the time, but not every dog will be. By following a few simple rules, boundaries are established and respected, and I feel that my children are safe.
You never know. The dog could be bad around children, sick, training as a guide dog or he could just be grumpy. We always make sure to ask if we can stop and say hello, and then ask if we can pet the dog. Aaron also likes to ask “is it a boy or a girl dog” and “what’s his/her name?”
We like to call dogs by their names. This way they know they are being spoken to. They aren’t as shocked when my kids try to pet them. While Olivia can’t use names, she consistently screams, “PUPPPPPPPPYYYYYY!!!”
“Where can I pet him/her?” is often Aaron’s next question. Just like people, dogs are particular. Some hate to be touched in certain spots. Some only like to be pet gently and some like a good scratch. Boundaries my friends.
We give a final scratch and say good bye. Even though they are pets, they have feelings (don’t roll your eyes at me!). Respect them, they’ll respect you. Aaron will always say, “See you later buddy!”
We always thank the owner. They took time from their schedule to give us a few minutes with their dog. We appreciate that and want them to know!
What have you done to make your children comfortable around dogs?