How many times have kids come up to you when you are walking your dog, and asked if they can pet him? You may have no problem with it, but what if your dog does? Would you know whether or not your dog was feeling stressed about it?
Whether you tell the kids to hold out their hands or to just stand there, make sure you give the dog the chance to say no if he wants to. If he moves behind you or walks away, he may rather skip the petting right now.
If the dog does approach the waiting child, stay alert to the dog’s face. If he is yawning, panting a lot, or licking his lips, he is trying desperately to calm himself. You will want to end the interaction. If the dog’s mouth is open, he is likely relaxed.
Encourage the child to pet your dog on his neck, sides, or under the chin. When the child or even you, goes to pat the dog’s head, the dog will lose sight of your hand, making him uncomfortable.
Advise the child to pet the dog slowly. This will be more calming to the dog than fast petting.
Make sure to get your dog used to kids, or at least to their possible annoying behaviors, before you allow any children near your dogs. Gently tug on your dog’s ears and tails while praising him so he knows that having your body parts pulled on can be an okay thing. Experts suggest you don’t reward the dog with treats at this point. You don’t want them hitting up the kid for a Snausage.
If your dog is showing signs of stress, or if the child is not treating the dog nicely, simply explain to the child that the dog is not in the mood for loving right now, and walk away.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!