Part of the mission of Helen Woodward Animal Center is teaching our most precious resource, our children, compassion for animals through our Education Department. Today we’re sharing some resources on how to teach your child compassion and safety around a species of animal they may come in contact with every day… the dog!
Learn the ABC’s of Meeting New Dogs
Meeting a new dog can be as easy as A-B-C! We found this is an easy first step to teaching young children about interacting with new animals, like dogs! By having early, positive interactions, young children learn to think about animals from the animals’ point of view. This can give children more capacity for empathy and compassion for animals as they get older.
A – ASK permission of the animal’s owner. Never let your child approach a dog that is tied in a yard or one that is roaming loose in the neighborhood.
B – BE SNIFFED. While humans size up a stranger with our eyes, dogs use their nose. Teach your child to walk up to the animals slowly and quietly, arms at their side. Dogs have such super sensitive sniffers, they don’t need you to extend a hand for them to be able to smell you – and a hand coming from a stranger can send a threatening signal which could result in a bite.
C – CAREFULLY PET the dog. Pet in a neutral area, on the back or chest, as directed by the owner.
Bugs Boodle’s Book of Basics
Are there more resources to teach my child about animals? Yes! We recently met the author of a new book that is a great dog safety primer for children aged 0-8. Her name is Kimberly O’Hara and her book is called Bugs Boodle’s Book of Basics.
This cheerful rhyming book, along with its colorful pictures, is designed to help you teach your children of tender years how to interact safely with dogs. While they are enjoying the antics of the cute and cuddly pup, Bugs Boodle, and his best friend, Teddy, they will be reinforcing some very important lessons at the same time. Like most of us, children are naturally attracted to dogs. If they see a dog, they usually want to play with it or pet it. Bugs Boodle’s Book of Basics will teach your children to respect animals and stay safe in a fun way.
When we asked Kimberly why she decided to write a book to help children and dogs interact, she said, “My inspiration for the book was my Yorkie. I would take the little guy out for walks and children would run at him and be so excited to pet him. Then I noticed that children did the same thing with dogs everywhere. I realized that children love animals (which is a good thing) but they needed to learn to approach and interact with them properly.
People have told me about children that have been bitten, or dogs that ended up being given away because they hurt a child. We all love animals and the earlier in life that we learn to treat them properly the happier children and dogs will be.”
Mike Arms, CEO and President of Helen Woodward Animal Center, agrees. After reading Bugs Boodle’s Book of Basics, he wrote a testimonial about the impact it will have on children and pets everywhere, “Over the years I’ve been asked to review many children’s books that were designed to teach children compassion for pets. Kim is teaching children to safely interact with dogs. This is a new spin on children’s books with animals that I thoroughly enjoyed and it is one of the very few that I have read that I would endorse to be shared with young children, encouraging them to learn safe interactions with pets for their protection, as well as the pets.”
We hope these resources will help you and your family interact safely with animals, but also have compassion for our animal friends!