Dogs are an important part of the lives of many families. It is easy to forget, that even though they are often lovable and loyal, they are still animals. They are not little people in furry suits. Animal behaviour is unpredictable and even the nicest dog can have a bad day. A happy dog is less likely to bite than a dog that is angry, worried, hurt or scared. Children and families can learn to read the dog’s body language and gauge how the dog is feeling.
Dogs can communicate in many different ways, some overt and some subtle. Parents who can understand when a dog is signalling that it has had enough attention from a child can intervene before the dog gets to the point of biting or snapping. Even although a dog has never bitten, it may at some point feel that it has no choice but to act aggressively in order to make a child leave it alone.
Supervision and observation of dog body language are important in preventing these incidents.
Children who do not have a dog at home will encounter other people’s dogs. It is inevitable that at some point a child will encounter a friend’s, neighbour’s or a strange dog. All children will benefit from knowing how to behave around dogs and knowing how to “Be a Tree” if a strange dog approaches, a known dog gets to frisky or any dog is causing concern.