Kids and animals are both impulsive and unpredictable. They’re, however, drawn to each other and can develop relationships that last a lifetime. Many poor interactions are caused simply by kids who do not understand proper behavior toward animals, especially ones that have rarely been around children. Consider the following tips to help your child care and learn to interact with respect with the animals they come into contact with and you may witness the most innocent and loving relationship that exists.
Never approach a strange dog
Teach the child to ask for permission from an animal’s owner before approaching. Even in a child care situation, don’t assume the resident animals are familiar with children and approachable.
Let the animal sniff
Animals learn a lot about things by smelling them. Giving them time to sniff out the situation will help ease any nervousness.
Give the animal space
If an animal is eating or playing with a toy, it may be territorial and afraid the child will take the item. Teach children to leave the animal alone if it is chewing on something. The same goes for an animal that walks away. Teach the child to respect the animal’s wish to end interaction and give him space.
Approach slowly and quietly
Quick movements or loud noises, even excited squeals, can be misunderstood as danger by an animal. Practice with your child until they learn to move slowly and quietly before allowing them access to animals.
Be a role model
Give children many opportunities to see you interacting with animals. You can make comments such as “See how he likes to sniff?” and “Dogs like being petted this way.” Your personal interaction with animals will be their greatest teacher.
Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child’s social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.