Teaching Kids How To Act Around Dogs | Los Angeles Dog Trainer

how to act around dogs Los Angeles dog trainer

A big part of dog training is training people. By teaching people how to interact with dogs properly, I bet we’d be able to avoid 80-90% of dog bites. Usually bites aren’t un provoked. For a lot of you guys it’s too late. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks ya know… but I believe the children are our future, so hopefully you can pass this information on to them. This way, they’ll grow up knowing how to interact with dogs properly. In this post, we’ll cover the ins and outs of teaching kids how to act around dogs.

The ideas outlined in this post don’t just go for strange dogs, but for your family’s dog as well. We have to take into account that dogs are animals first. They rarely attack out of no where. There are body signals, precipitating events and cues that will tell your the dog is uncomfortable. If you don’t know them, check this post out (Los Angeles Dog Trainer – Body Language). Regardless, you still won’t be an expert, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Below are some rules to live by… teach your kids.

How to Act Around Dogs

  • NEVER EVER EVER pull, grab, yank on a dog’s fur, ears, or tail.
  • Don’t try to grab or touch a dog’s feet. Most dogs do not like this, and most people do not take the time to teach their dogs to tolerate it.
  • Be careful when running or yelling around dogs. It can make some dogs excited and make other dogs nervous. Excited dogs may give chase and nip to join in the fun. Nervous dogs may do the same to make you stop doing the thing that is making them uncomfortable.
  • Do not put your face close to a dog’s face. You’re invading the dog’s personal space and it’s very easy for them to bite you here. In addition, if you’re too close to their face, you can’t read any of their other body language.
  • Avoid letting your kids hug dogs. Dogs don’t hug each other… this type of human style affection feels more like a dominating headlock scenario to a dog. Most dogs don’t like it even if they accept it. In addition, it also puts your face dangerously close to their mouth if they decide to tell you they’re uncomfortable.

How To Pet A Dog(Appropriately)

  • Don’t raise your hand to their face or the over their head. Instead, aim for under the chin or the corner of the neck and jaw.
  • Make sure you stoke the dog calm and gently. Don’t pet to vigorously and definitely don’t be too rough.
  • Don’t grab or grope. Keep petting to areas like behind the ears, the chest, and back.
  • Pay attention to the dog’s body language. If they seem to become nervous or uncomfortable, calmly stop petting and give the dog some space without making eye contact.
  • If the dog moves away from your hand when you’re petting him, don’t follow. Just take it as the dog doesn’t want to be touched anymore. If you stop, and they want you to continue, they will let you know for sure.

How To Approach A Dog

  • Never approach a dog without permission. Always ask your parents first, then ask the owner. Not only is it rude to just go up to someones dog, but it’s dangerous. Some dogs are weary of strangers. Some are super friendly and will jump on you and knock you over. Some are in training or working like service dogs, and shouldn’t be disrupted.
  • Never approach a dog if it looks worried or actually backs away from you. It’s telling you that it’s not interested in interacting with you and you should listen. (Tail wagging DOES NOT mean the dog is happy!)
  • Do not run up to or approach a dog too quickly. Approach calmly and confidently.
  • If you are worried about petting someone’s dog, don’t let the dog owner or anyone else talk you into it. The dog will sense your worry and possibly get worried himself.
  • Do not invade a dog’s personal space. Let them meet you half way. If a dog is curious or interested in meeting you they will come forward. If they back up, do not approach.
  • Do not reach for dogs in closed in areas like the corner of a couch, under a table, in their crate, or on their bed. Call them out of the tight space before you try to touch them.
  • Do not approach a dog that is eating food or drinking. This also goes for dogs actively chewing bones or playing with toys. Don’t try to grab the chew or toy the dog is playing with.
  • Do not approach a sleeping dog. Rather call them to you. Sleeping dogs startle pretty easy and can snap without realizing who or what it is that woke them up.


Kids have an innate curiosity, so it’s no surprise dogs are a big draw for them… Kids are going to do what comes natural and so are dogs, so it’s important to teach your kids how to act around dogs. Meeting a dog as a kid can be an exciting experience. Let’s make sure those experiences always go well. If you need help teaching your kid how to act around dogs or just need help with your dog give us a shout. iWorkDogs | Los Angeles Dog Trainer


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