5 Tips to Teach Kids to Play Safely with Dogs

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Dogs are kid’s best friend! But to get these BFFs together, children need to learn safe get-to-know-Fido rules.

Kids and dogs go together like PB&J, but it’s important to teach our little ones that there are certain rules for safely interacting with these furry friends. These five tips will help kids stay safe when meeting a new dog or playing with a pooch they already know.

1. Ask permission before petting. 

“Teach your child to always stand back and ask before petting a dog,” says Bobbie Bhambree, the director of pet behavior at North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington, New York.

2. Show the dog you’re friendly. 

Reaching out can startle a dog. Instead, your child should offer an open palm a couple of inches away from her own body, allowing the pooch to approach and sniff.

3. Pat smartly.

“Once the dog warms up to you, gently stroke it under the chin,” says Bhambree. “The dog can see where your hand is, which makes him more comfortable.”

4. Think like a dog. 

Ask your child: “If you were eating or sleeping, would you be happy if your brother started poking you?”

5. Play fetch with two balls. 

As soon as the dog brings one back, have your child show it the other. “The dog will drop the one in his mouth to catch the new one. Then your child can safely pick it up,” says Bhambree.

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