So you’re out and about running your errands when in the distance you spot a cute, adorable dog. You take a few moments out of your day just to be able to pet that dog and give it a few “He’s so cute!” compliments.
If you’re this thrilled with a chance encounter with man’s best friend, imagine how a young child feels when confronted with the same situation. No not the running errands thing, but seeing the fuzzy dog thing.
As we all know there can be some danger in having a child approach a strange dog and pet it. The Victor Valley Daily Press has a good story on ways to teach kids to pet appropriately as well as warning signs to be wary of.
Some experts suggest having the child putting out a closed fist or a hand with palm upraised, others say just stand there. But all agree: let the dog decide whether to approach the child. Don’t hold a dog still in your lap for petting, and respect the dog’s decision if it turns away or moves behind the owner.
If the dog does approach, observe the body language. Don’t concentrate on the tail, it can be hard to read. Pelar says, “I tell people that if they’re looking at the tail, they’re watching the wrong end of the dog.”
Instead, the mouth can give a lot of clues. A dog that’s licking lips, panting excessively, or yawning, is showing that he’s not comfortable. These are oral self-soothing behaviors much like sucking your thumb, says Pelar. In contrast – opposite of the common maternal fear of the teeth showing – if the dog’s mouth is open, that’s a sign that it’s relaxed.
It’s worth the read, especially with all the potential canine – kid encounters bound to happen over the summer months.