Presentations to children about dog behavior and about how to act around dogs provide helpful safety lessons. The basic points I like to make when talking with kids are the things I wish that every child knew for the sake of safety. These include:
Don’t approach a dog who is tied out on a rope or chain.
Dogs don’t like to be hugged.
Don’t kiss dogs.
Don’t stare at a dog.
A wagging tail does not mean that a dog is friendly.
Leave dogs alone when they are eating or chewing something.
Recently, I covered these issues in my son’s first grade class with a combination of photos, discussion, an art activity in which the kids drew a good thing to do around a dog and a bad thing to do around a dog, and a book I read to them. The kids loved the book, which is Wendy Wahman’s Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs, which is geared towards children ages four to eight.
The book covers many things about greeting dogs such as asking permission to pet a dog; being calm; moving slowly; not patting their heads but instead stroking them on the chin and chest; a few of the visual signals by dogs that indicate discomfort; advising children not to hug dogs or to get right in their faces; and letting dogs approach you rather than the other way around. The whimsical, upbeat drawings captivated the children. I love this book because of the great information in it and because kids like it, which means they are more likely to digest the important messages.