One of our partners, the Management Board, has organised a Day of the Dog on 21 May 2017, which focused on the theme 'Kids & Dogs'. Following this event we would like to give you eight golden tips for parents and kids!
A monkey cuddles differently
Us humans came from monkey species. Just like monkeys, we like hugging, putting our arms around each other and staring in each others' eyes. Dogs don't! That's why you should never hug dogs, don't lean your face closer to them and don't stare straight into their eyes. Dogs will feel intimidated and think you're being rude. They prefer to make contact in a much more subtle way, like turning their backs to us for a little tickle. Taking a picture with your dog? Follow the same rules: no arms wrapped around them and keep some distance between your face and his snout. Hands-free posing is the best option when it comes to dogs!
Petting? Ask thrice!
Are you a kid that wants to pet a dog? Ask permission thrice:
- Start by asking your parents if it's okay to pet the dog.
- Then ask the owner of the dog.
- And, last but not least, ask the dog itself. Make contact briefly, then stop and see what happens. Does the dog turn or walk away? That means he's had enough. Does it stay close to you, ready for more? Then you can continue.
Become a lamppost
Are you a bit scared of a dog, or is it behaving a little rambunctious and jumpy? Don't scream, wave your arms, make repelling gestures or start running, but transform into a lamppost: stand completely still, cross your arms and look up to the sky. By not moving you become boring very quickly, which will make the dog lose interest in you in no time.
Offering a treat
Finger-licking good, that's quite literally how dogs feel about yummy treats. Are you a bit apprehensive about offering a dog a treat, because he might bite your fingers or drool on your hands? Then you could just drop the treat in front of him on the floor and point at it. He will get that too! Don't try to help in any other way, because he might interpret you bending over to point at it again or picking it up as taking away the treat. His nose will lead the way eventually!
Watch the body language
The golden rule is: never leave kids and dogs alone together. But did you know that many biting incidents happen in the presence of parents? Especially because the body language the dog uses to indicate that something isn't making him happy, often goes unnoticed. Looking away, flicking a small part of his tongue, licking his mouth, swallowing or smacking, panting, lifting a front paw slightly, walking away from a situation: these are all stress signs of the dog feeling intimidated or uncomfortable.
Be aware of growls!
Don't punish a dog for growling, but pay attention to what he is trying to tell you. Simply because it's the clearest warning he can give you: leave me alone, I need more space, or else I'll bite! When you forbid your dog to growl he could, seemingly out of nowhere, immediately resort to his final rescue: biting. Forbidding your dog to growl is a bit like taking the batteries out of a fire detector. Be grateful for the warning and try to improve your dog's comfort and feeling of safety, which will eliminate the need for this behaviour in the future.
Do not disturb please
Picture this: somebody unannounced creeps into your bed, or someone decides to fork over a little bit from your plate. You wouldn't like that, and the same goes for your dog! Therefore never disturb dogs when they are sleeping, resting, enjoying their meal or chewing on a treat.
Create a ghost!
Playing games with your dog? Why not make a ghost out of some fleece! Here's a step-by-step manual on how to make that ghost. Tip: make one for yourself too! To do so, increase the fleece rag's size in the above mentioned article from 30 x 30 centimeters to 100 x 100 centimeters. You'll have yourself a super fun cuddly ghost! Your dog isn't supposed to tear the toy apart; only play with adult supervision to help and guide you. Yet, if a puncture is made unintentionally, don't worry. You'll make a new one in no time!
This article was written by Judith Lissenberg, who organises dog and kid-friendly activities on a regular basis for Prins, like the Prins Kids Party and the Prins Kids Fan days.