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    • Talking to a Child: Tips on Interacting With Dogs

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      How children should play with a dogBeing around a new dog can cause a lot of excitement, especially in households with young children. If one of your clients comes in with their children and a new dog, take some time to talk to the children. Taking the time to talk to children about the way to behave, as well as showing them the do’s and don’ts for handling the animal, will help their time together be fun and rewarding.

      Remember, when talking to children, to direct their attention to you and use easy-to-understand words and short sentences.

      Tip #1. Teach Children to Be on Their Best Behavior When Meeting Their New Dog

      When meeting a new dog, it is important for children to be quiet and calm. Fast movements, grabbing hands and loud squealing may frighten and upset the animal, and a scared dog may bite. Having the children sit quietly gives the dog a chance to come to them when it is comfortable and relaxed. If you can, model this behavior for the children.

      Remind parents that it is important to supervise the activities going on between a young child and dog. Children need to be told to never:

      • Chase after or corner the animal
      • Grab the dog by the hair, ears, leg, or tail to pull it close
      • Pull on its ears
      • Place fingers in its mouth
      • Get down in its face
      • Bounce, climb or sit on the dog.

      Children too young to understand these directives should never be left alone with a dog.

      Tip #2. Remind Parents and Children to Be Observant of Dog Behaviors

      When watching a dog for signs that it is nervous or uncomfortable, it is important to keep in mind that individual animals tolerate different levels of discomfort. For example, accidentally stepping on the toes of one dog may only bring about a whine, but doing the same to another dog may cause it to bite.

      A dog that feels anxious or uncomfortable may show one or more of the following behaviors:

      • Avoidance
      • Walking away
      • Backing up
      • Struggling
      • Averting its gaze
      • Licking its lips
      • Yawning
      • Showing the whites of its eyes
      • Growling
      • Yelping.

      Explain these behaviors to children, and point them out if observed. Explain to parents and older children that if they ever notice any of these signs, it is important to stop the interaction between the child and dog.

      Tip #3. Teach Adults and Children the Proper Way to Pick Up a Dog

      Children tend to pick up dogs the way they would lift a doll—by the front limbs. Raising the animal up in this way is dangerous as the animal runs the risk of incurring the following injuries:

      • Strained muscles of the front limbs and spine
      • Torn ligaments
      • Dislocated shoulder
      • Dislocated elbow
      • Damage to the bones and cartilage.

      Both adults and children should know the correct way to pick up a dog. If possible, demonstrate them for the family and give them opportunities to follow your lead.

      For small dogs:

      • Place arm under the animal’s chest between its front limbs
      • Tuck its back end in between the same arm and your torso.

      For medium-sized dogs:

      • Place arm behind the dog’s back legs
      • Place other arm around its chest, in front of its limbs
      • Hold the dog against your chest.

      Tip #4. Additional Safety Tips for Children around Dogs

      The following important safety tips should also be taught to children:

      • Never reach out to touch a dog without asking permission first.
      • If a dog tries to get away, let it go.
      • If you come upon a dog that appears injured or sick, don’t try to touch it; get an adult to help.

      Teaching children ways to calmly and carefully interact with dogs will help to keep them safe and further a lifelong appreciation of animals. By spending a few extra moments with a pet owner’s children, you can prevent injury to the animals and children and ensure you will always be a trusted advisor.

      Could your clients benefit from these tips for training puppies?
      Have you counseled your client about the best pet food for their new dog?
      Do your clients know the Heimlich Maneuver can be performed on dogs that are choking?

      Your Henry Schein representative can provide additional information on caring for your pets, call us at: 855.SCHEIN.1 (724-3461).

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