The American Humane Association is launching KIDS: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely, a dog bite prevention program targeted to children younger than 7 years of age. The program teaches children to be considerate of dogs' feelings in order to prevent dog bites.
In my book, The Miss Fido Manners (Adams Media) I provide a guide to canine-child interaction. Parents can help by their children by teaching them to respect dog's boundaries and some basic rules.
1. Children need to understand that dogs do not always make good friends.
2. Teach children how important it is to be polite for safety's skae with dog owners and pets. Instruct them to always ask if a dog is firendly and then, if the owners give permission they can pet it.
3. Kids need to learn now to interact positively with dogs. "Show and tell" them how to greet dogs. Tell youngster to be calm around dogs, lower their voice and hold a steady hand so that the dog can sniff it. Show the child first and have her mimic your actions.
4. Tell kids they need to understand the secret language of dogs by reading their body language. Explain when you are happy, you smile. When you are sad, you cry. Without words, your body reacts and shows how you feel. This is true with dogs. A dog's body can demonstrate how he feels.
5. Explain that children should neither dry to comfort the fearful dog or challenge an angry one. Tell them to remain silent, look away from the animal and leave by walking away from the dog slowly.
6. Discuss how dogs don't like surprise. It is better not to disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or playing with her toys.
7. Ask children from running, screaming or playing on the ground in the presence of a dog
8. More so with boys than girls, tell them not to tease, throw things, play rought or wrestly with a dog.
9. Boys and girls should never sneak food to a dog.
10. Adult supervision is the key.
For for more information about dog training with kids, check out Carol Lea Benjamin's Dog Training for Kids ( Howell Books).