Aug 14 2018

Teaching Children to Interact with Dogs Safely

Most people love the idea of kids and pets together. There is nothing quite like growing up with a beloved furry sibling. However, as with all animals, safety is key in terms of interactions with our pets as well. Ensure that children are taught to respect Fido’s or Fifi’s boundaries, and adults should not allow children to be unsupervised around pets. This blog post focuses on safety tips for kids and dogs, and proactive tips for safe interactions.

Signs that your dog is stressed needs a break from their kiddie companions:

  • “Whale eye”: Occurs when a dog exposes the white part of their eyes by opening them wide
  • Avoidance: moving away and/or looking away

    While this may be a cute image, the dog is displaying “whale eye”–you can see the white parts of his eyes, clearly indicating his discomfort.

  • Exaggerated yawning
  • Repetitive lip licks, which usually consist of the tip of the tongue touching the nose briefly
  • Panting when it is not hot
  • Tail down and/or tucked between legs
  • Ears held back or down
  • Stiff body posture
  • Growling/Barking insistently

Example of a nervous lip licking

Note this Chihuahua’s stiff, defensive body posture with his ears held back and down.

What can I teach my children to do?

This video provided by Good Dog in a Box outlines general safety tips for children around dogs. 

Tips for Kids:
  • If a dog does not want to be touched, say hi from a distance!
  • Always ask before approaching a strange dog
  • Avoid reaching over a dog to pet them on the top of the head, pat the side of the shoulder or body if the dog is comfortable!
  • Do not touch a dog who is eating or sleeping
  • Do not take a toy from a dog unless they are offering it to you to play

What can I do as a parent?

  • Teach children to respect animals as companions. Never allow children to climb on dogs or pull on canine tails, limbs or ears
  • Encourage children to be calm and gentle when greeting dogs, especially strange dogs
  • Supervise children and pets, watching for the signs that the dog is uncomfortable to intervene and allow breaks or separation if necessary
  • Kisses and hugs make most dogs uncomfortable. Teach children to only blow kisses from afar.



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