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Karen B. London
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Don’t Lick the Dog
Good lessons in a kids’ book

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.

Have you seen this book or read it to children?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Barbara | March 14 2012 |

I have bought this book for all my friends' kids & my nieces and nephews, and I have read it to children's groups at the library (then we practice the lessons from the book with a giant plush dog).

Don't Lick the Dog is absolutely wonderful for all the reasons you mention, plus it is just plain funny in all the right places. Such a touching, practical, and amusing book!

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