My family recently adopted a pit bull. Because pit bulls are identified as a bully breed, in Virginia the adoption process is quite rigorous. A volunteer organization here (bullypaws.org) agrees to screen the dogs and prospective owners and oversee the entire process to ensure that responsible owners are able to adopt friendly and non-vicious pets. The process included:
- Checking all of our references (they called and interviewed friends and family to confirm our experience with dogs and details about our home and family life—I didn’t even bribe them and somehow we still got approved)
- Confirming with our landlord that we were allowed to have a pit bull in the home (we are lucky to rent from an animal lover)
- A call to our vet to confirm that we had been responsible with our other pets by keeping their shots up-to-date
- A visit with us and the dog at the shelter to observe how we interacted with the dog
- A visit to our home to make sure we had suitable accommodations for an active, medium-large dog.
- Our dog was spayed before we could bring her home.
- We had to agree to enroll in a dog training course to ensure that we would properly train our new dog.
I tried to offer up my PetPerks reward card too as evidence of how spoiled my other dog has been, but apparently, this isn’t one of the criteria for establishing a responsible pet owner. Here’s a picture of our beautiful new addition.
I don’t advocate for everyone to adopt a pit bull. They aren’t for everyone because they do have different needs and entail more responsibility than many other breeds.
However, by introducing our new family member to neighbors and friends, I realized some adults and many children are unfamiliar with how to best act around and interact with dogs. Since not all dog owners are diligent and responsible, it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children know how to act around dogs to avoid potential harm. Here are some tips to teach your child to keep them safe around dogs.
- Never Treat A Dog Unkindly – Even a calm, docile dog might become aggressive if it is taunted, kicked, or hit.
- Do Not Approach An Unattended Dog – Even if the dog looks friendly, if its owner is not nearby, do not approach it. Call animal control if the dog is loose and unattended.
- Avoid Accidentally Threatening A Dog – If a dog is loose and approaches you, avoid a confrontation by becoming as non-threatening as possible. Stand perfectly still with your hands down at your sides. Don’t make any noise and do NOT look at the dog. If you run from a dog, it will likely chase you since many dogs are bred to run after things and others will think you are initiating a game.
- Always Ask The Owners Permission Before Approaching A Dog – Not all dogs do well meeting new people, so be sure to check with the owner to make sure it is okay to approach the dog. When you approach, move slowly and hold your hand out in a fist (it looks more like a paw that way) and allow the dog to sniff it. If the dog doesn’t back away, a gentle rub under the chin or beneath the ear is best. Try to avoid rubbing the top of the head or the back of the dog when you first meet one.
- Be Calm and Quiet – Many dogs get excited when the people around it are acting lively or speaking loudly. If you keep your voice low and make slow movements, the dog will likely remain calm as well.
Hopefully, these tips will help keep your child safe around animals and make their interactions with these lovable creatures enjoyable ones.
Love dogs? Check out this list of 20 Dog Movies on Netflix.