Child safety means speaking “canine-ese”

By Susan Aiello • Published: January 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

When meeting a new dog, children naturally want to give it a big hug. But that kind of behavior can get a youngster bitten, because dogs and people don’t necessarily read situations the same way.

To avoid accidents, children and their parents need to learn canine body language, and how human body language can be misinterpreted. For example, your first impulse when pursued by a menacing mutt might be to run, but in canine speak this says “chase after the prey.” Rather than taking to your heels, it’s better to stand still and look at your feet. This helps you avoid eye contact, which dogs find threatening.

Appropriate training — without harming the animal — is essential, so the dog understands its place in the pack under human leadership. So although we can’t talk to dogs like we do other people, we can communicate with them. And that’s the best way to turn predator pups into good canine citizens.