Dogs and people have different ways of meeting and greeting each other. The first thing to do when encountering a new dog is to ask the owner if the dog is okay with children and if you can pet the dog. Even though you may want to go up to the dog and say hello or pet it, it is actually best to remain still and calm and let the dog come to you. Try not to touch, talk, or make eye contact with the dog. Let the dog come to you and allow him/her to smell you. Dogs do better when they get to introduce themselves first! And, for a dog, smelling is the best way to get to know someone new. Dogs will actually let you know when they are ready to be petted by giving you signals with their bodies. The best time to pet a dog is when he/she is calm and relaxed. And the more calm you are, the more likely it is that a dog will stay calm around you. Calm dogs usually have lowered heads and ears that fold back. If a dog has his tail up or between its legs, or his ears up he may not be in the mood to meet you. Jumping, barking, and growling are also signs that a dog is not ready to be petted or to meet someone new.
Don’t approach a dog while he or she is eating, or has a toy or a bone, because he/she might think you are trying to take away his food or bone and that could make a dog mad or upset.
Remember that some dogs like and are happy with people, but some dogs may get scared or nervous around children or new people, so it’s always important to look at the dog’s body and behavior and let the dog come to you before trying to pet it.
- When would be a good time to meet or pet a dog?
- How might a dog act around you if you were excited or nervous?
- (If you have a dog) How does your dog look or act when he/she is calm?
Children will learn how to approach a dog, how to act when meeting a dog for the first time, and how and when to effectively give a dog affection. This will further develop children’s knowledge about dogs and their ability to take another’s perspective and adapt their behavior accordingly. Some tips for introducing children to dogs, specifically puppies are: children should be calm; teach children how to greet a dog using the no touch, no talk, no eye contact rule until a dog signals it wants to interact.
Vocabulary Words to Highlight:
Eye contact, Introduce, Calm, Mood, Affection, Signal