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A lesson in canine etiquette

Posted: November 30, 2009 4:42 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The Santa Clarita Valley is a wonderful community for the many families who live here. A majority of these families include young children. There are also many dog owners in this community.

Children and dogs are two of the cutest things on the planet, but it has come to my attention perhaps they don't know enough about each other.

This lack of knowledge can lead to barking, lunging and biting.

When a dog is aggressive toward a child, there usually is a lot more going on than what we see. Unfortunately in these situations, dogs shoulder the blame when they are not entirely at fault.

I would like to educate parents and dog owners about proper child/dog etiquette. This goes for people walking their dogs on the streets and many trails, as well as the dog owners who bring their young children into the off-leash dog park (which is very dangerous).

n Never look a strange dog in the eye. Never touch a strange dog. Never talk to a strange dog.
Move forward, claim your space and let the dog sniff. Just because a dog comes up to you doesn't mean he wants you to pet him. He wants to sniff you because that's how he gets to know you.

n Teach your child to move slowly and calmly around strange dogs.

n Teach your child to let the dog come up to him or her, rather than your child running up to the dog.

n Teach your child to never run away from a dog - they will chase. Same thing with bicycles, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades. If you need to get away from the dog, back away slowly.

n Ask permission from the owner if it is safe and okay for your child to pet the dog. Teach your child to ask the owner if the dog is friendly.

n Teach your child the proper way to pet a dog - underneath the neck, as the animal will be more receptive.
Do not bring your hand down over the head, because some dogs may perceive this as a threat and react accordingly.
Never let your child kiss a dog in the face. It's dangerous and gross.

n Usually, if a dog has its mouth open in a relaxed fashion and its tongue is hanging out, it probably will not bite. But always ask the owner if it is okay to pet the dog.

In a community like Santa Clarita with many families and dog-owners, this is not something that should be taken lightly.

Teach your children by example. It is well worth the time and effort to educate.

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