by Lauren Lovan, Grant & Communications Specialist, Yavapai Humane Society
“May I pet your dog?” This question is a very important one to teach your child to ask when out and about and there is a cute pup in sight. This simple question holds a lot of weight in a few ways. 1. It teaches your child to be respectful to the dog owner and the dog. 2. It teaches children responsibility for their own safety. 3. It promotes good nature in the dog world.
Let’s elaborate on these points, shall we? Respect is important for your child to show dog owners because it tells them that your child cares enough about them and their dog to not overstep their bounds. When respect is exhibited, it establishes a level of trust between the dog owner and your child because the owner will automatically know your child is not going to be rough and or hurt their dog.
This showing of respect leads to teaching children to think before acting, which explains they are in charge of their own well-being and shouldn’t do anything that will jeopardize it. Asking dog owners if petting their dog is all right before doing so, teaches children to keep in mind that just because a dog looks cute doesn’t always mean it is nice. It also helps them to understand that sometimes dogs need a little time to warm up to someone new.
Which brings us to the next point, if your child learns to ask this question instead of running up to a dog on a walk, it will ease the anxiety of the dog. When your child approaches the dog, make sure you teach him or her to hold out his or her hand so fingers point toward the ground. The dog will be able to get the chance to sniff your child’s hand and then it will be ready to receive affection. This act is giving the dog room to be itself to test the waters and it helps the dog know your child is not a threat.
Dogs should not be approached if they are wearing a service-dog vest or if they are growling. Make sure your child understands these things before you go to the park or town. The thing to remember is that different dogs need and like different things, and the only way to find those things out, is to ask their owners.