Safety, Dogs & Kids…Oh My!

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Dogs, dogs, dogs…oh my!  They are in the house, running loose in the dog park, in cars…everywhere you look!  Some are naughty, some are nice and others just want to be left alone, but how do we know their disposition or mood?

adorable blur child close up
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Kids, kids, kids…they are everywhere, too!  As adults with experience, it is easier for us to read these clues, but it may not be as easy for children.  For those children with a dog of their own, it might be easier for them to read another dog, or do they assume that every dog is like their own?  For other children who are not around dogs frequently, how do they know how to act safely around a dog?  It is important for kids to learn how to be careful and respectful around dogs in order to be safe and to enjoy their company.

My son recently attended a summer safety class at our local police department and while I knew he would learn about crossing the street safely, swimming safety and stranger danger, I never even thought about dog safety so I thought it would be a perfect topic to share!

people walking the dog
Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

First things first!  How do you say hello to a dog you don’t know?  The American Kennel Club has some great tips you can share with your kids on how to do so safely:

  1. Walk up slowly to the dog’s owner to ask if you can pet the dog.  
  2. If the owner says that it is not a good idea, then politely accept the answer and do not pet the dog.  If yes, curl your hand into a closed fist with the back of your hand facing upward and extend it slowly to the dog.
  3. Let the dog sniff the back of your hand so he can learn your scent.
  4. Once the dog has sniffed you and is comfortable with you, pet gently under his chin or on his chest.

Next, what if your child sees a threatening or loose dog?  Tell them to stand tall like a tree, or still like a statue.  Tell them to cross their arms over their chest as if they are giving themselves a big hug.  Look away from the dog as they may interpret direct eye contact as a sign of a challenge for control or power.  Especially if the child is unfamiliar with the dog, they ultimately want the dog to go away and have no interaction with them.  This is the safest option.

adult beagle walking on grass field
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

What happens if the dog looks like it is lost, with no owner in sight?  Kids love to help so be sure to tell them that this is a very important job!  If they see a dog that could be lost, instead of approaching the dog, they should tell an adult.  Never run, just stand still and slowly and quietly back away from the dog; loud noises or sudden movements may frighten the dog.  Once the adult is made aware of the lost dog, of course if the dog is friendly and has tags, check them and go from there.  If the dog is not approachable, call animal control.  The old adage applies, better safe than sorry.

So how do you know if a dog is friendly anyway?  Here are the differences between a friendly dog and a threatening dog:

Friendly Threatening
Tail down, wagging back and forth Wrinkled nose that draws back to reveal teeth
Mouth and lips are relaxed, almost smiling Body is tense and stiff
Ears are neither back or forward Hair along back may be raised
Tongue is visible Growling or snarling
Hair lies smooth along its back Ears are pinned back

As children are enjoying their time outside this summer, it is important they they keep these tips in mind as they may help prevent a dangerous encounter.  And if your child is anything like mine, they love dogs and want nothing more than to run up to them and say hello.  Teaching them the safe way to interact with dogs will make it that much more fun!  

Some final rules to follow for a safe summer are included here:

blue merle australian shepherd
Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com
  1. Want to pet the dog behind the fence?  Before you stick your fingers through know that a dog considers its yard personal property and may growl or bite to protect it.  Same goes for a dog you may see in a car…don’t reach your hands in because they may not come out the same way they went in!
  2. If you see dogs fighting, don’t be the hero and try to break it up.  Find an adult to help to avoid any injuries.
  3. There is truth in the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie.”  Don’t startle a dog as they are resting because they may not wake up too happily.  The same goes for when a dog is eating or drinking.  They may think that you are trying to take their food and therefore become territorial.
  4. Use caution when a mommy dog is with her puppies, she will be naturally protective.
  5. Not all dogs like new tricks.  Don’t try to take a toy out of a dog’s mouth; some dogs don’t like to play that way and may try to bite you instead of the toy.  
action adorable animal beautiful
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So now that all the basic dog safety tips for kids have been covered, let’s not forget that dogs love to have fun and to learn!  If your child has their own dog, it may be a good idea to have them go to obedience school to that they can learn manners and commands like “come,” “down,” “heel,” “sit” and “stay.”  Well-trained and well-socialized dogs are less likely to bite and are therefore make better four-legged citizens.  And what comes with good manners?  The best part…rewards! 

Kids and dogs love rewards in the form of treats, but did you know that there’s a dog treat that doubles as a summer safety necessity?  Can you guess what it is?  If you guessed Lavasox, you guessed right!  It’s been a hot summer and with that comes hot pavement and sand.  And while we do our best to keep our dogs’ paws off of the hot pavement by walking them early in the morning or on the grass, at some point those poor paws do hit the hot ground.  Reward your dog with a Lavasox treat this summer and keep their paws safe from the heat on the sidewalks.  

And if you are still “on the fence” about these booties (remember, be safe and don’t stick your fingers through the fence!), take Healthy Spot’s word for it, one of our newest retailers in California that carries them: “Lavasox are the holy grail of dog shoes at our store. When we help customers with shoe fittings for their pups they see how easy they slide on and how comfortable they are on their pups! They are a sturdy shoes, yet soft and not bulky. They are also perfect for ALL kinds of weather and that’s super important to our customers because a lot of them travel all over the world.”

Here’s to having a fun and SAFE rest of summer with your dogs and/or kids.  Keep the kids safe wherever they are and make sure that they follow these summer dog safety tips.  And keep your dogs’ paws safe too…you don’t want to have to add a trip to the veterinarian to your summer vacation plans.  Enjoy the final dog days of summer! -Team Saltsox

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