Most kids absolutely love animals! Unfortunately, most kids are also not taught to appropriately deal with them. This can result in dangerous interactions when kids don't know animal body language and haven't learned that they need to ask before petting a new animal, for example. Sometimes kids are taught how to deal with animals based on breeds or species, but that's a bad strategy because each animal is different!
Sign now if you want to see a short module on interacting with animals put into grade school curricula focusing on common house pets like dogs!
If kids grow up around animals that are really easy going, they may be accustomed to pulling on a dog's fur or handling a cat roughly. And while that might have been fine for their childhood pet, that's not the right way to interact with an animal that's new to you. We need to be teaching kids that when they see an animal out and about, they ALWAYS have to ask whether the animal is friendly and they can pet it first. Too many kids run up to dogs who may scare easily and end up getting bitten. Depending on where this happens, the bite may end up meaning the dog has to be put down.
We can solve this problem with just a little bit of education! Kids can learn to ask whether they can pet an animal and they can learn the basics of animal body language. For example, kids should learn what hackles look like on a dog and what to do if a dog is growling at them. We could avoid so many tragedies for both kids and dogs if we just shared information!
Obviously parents should be teaching their kids this, but not every adult knows these things either. If you've only ever been around really easy going animals who allowed humans to mess with them, you may believe all dogs are like that. In reality, each animal has their own quirks and so we need to approach each new animal carefully and respectfully.
I personally have a dog that gets scared really easily, especially of children and we constantly have to teach children not to run up to him because he could hurt them if they scare him! I really wish more of these kids knew to ask before petting and knew the basics of animal body language so they stay safe and so does my little buddy. We also encounter other dog owners who just allow their dog to approach ours without asking. I understand they assume my dog is friendly because theirs is, but they'd be wrong. My dog has some anxiety and fear issues and certain breeds of dogs are a real trigger for him.
Please sign on if you are in favor of some basic education for kids (and by extension their parents) on animal etiquette!