Thinking of getting a dog? Just want your kids to know how to interact with them? Either way, it's an important lesson for all kids to learn. Teaching kids to interact with dogs takes time and patience but is well worth the effort. Before ever adopting a dog or having your kids around one for an extended period of time, they need to know what to do.
Dog safety lessons come first. Before your kids start interacting with dogs, they need to learn some important safety rules. While dogs can be great for kids, they are still animals and animals are unpredictable. Be sure your kids know what to do in various scenarios that may come up when interacting with dogs. Animal behavioral and care classes can often be taken at local animal shelters, rescues, and even some major pet store chains. Proper care is important. But so is injury and accident prevention.
Teach kids proper interaction firsthand. There is no better way for your kids to learn how to interact with dogs than actually doing it. If you are just talking to your kids and reading things from manuals, there is no one-on-one experience for them to better understand the lesson. If you can get both a professional dog trainer and dog behaviorist to work with your kids and a potential adoptive dog, that's even better. These experts can work together with kids and their dog to help them learn how to bond with each other and develop a positive relationship from the start. The experience can also help kids in knowing how to deal with other dogs as well.
Expose kids to dogs regularly. If a child is never around dogs, it is going to be exceedingly difficult to retain the knowledge. Once you begin teaching kids about proper interaction, they need to be around dogs as often as possible. The more exposure, the better for instilling the lesson and keeping it. If you have no dogs in your family, find friends with dogs or visit the local shelter. If your kids are old enough, they may even be able to volunteer to spend time with the animals, which would give them even more experience.
Talk to the experts. Vets and pediatricians will also have important knowledge and insight about the way kids should interact with dogs. Pediatricians are likely to have safety in mind for your child. Veterinarians are likely to have pet safety and care in mind. Talking with both experts will give your child a well-rounded lesson on dog interaction. By listening to the experts talk to your kids, you may also learn a thing or two.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network