Don’t Pet The Dog – & Children’s Book Recommendation

Don’t Pet The Dog

I think it is so important that children are taught from a young age to respect dogs and be aware that they might not like to be petted.

When I am out walking with my rescue mini dachshund children are immediately attracted to the funny ‘sausage dog’ and come running towards him. However, what they don’t know is that Darcy has FEAR AGGRESSION and is extremely UNPREDICTABLE.

Although I love my dog, as a responsible owner, I admit that I CAN NEVER TRUST HIM AROUND CHILDREN.

If a child asks if he or she can pet my dog I have to politely decline. I would however try to explain the reason why Darcy should not be approached and clearly state that his behaviour can be unpredictable but it is not his fault. I would give a brief outline of his past and explain that he has a much nicer life now but sometimes he is still a little scared of things.

Sometimes I have had to pick up the dog because a child is running towards him. This is not difficult with a small breed but the owners of large dogs don’t have this option. Parents should not let their children run off to meet a dog, they should keep the child close by and ask permission to stroke a dog who is on a lead.

If the owner is confident that their dog is friendly and would enjoy being petted the parent should ask a few questions before the child proceeds.

Questions to ask?

What is the dog’s name?

How old is he or she?

Where does the dog like to be petted?

Then the child should talk softly to the dog using his name. If the dog is a puppy the child should be made aware that the dog may be young and excitable. A decision should then be made by the dog owner and parent and if both are happy the child can gently and quietly touch the dog.

A Personal Bugbear

I’m very nervous when I see people on Instagram letting their toddlers stroke, feed, and even sleep with their family dogs.  With a very young child, a stroke can easily turn into a grab!

Yes, it’s adorable to see the bond between a child and a dog.

But, they are not siblings!

Dogs cannot verbally express that they feel unwell, are tired, a little anxious or want to be left alone. They can show their feelings through body language to adults, but a child would not pick up on these signals.

In addition, a sleeping dog should be left alone. No matter how cute the Insta Pic would be, keep the child away from a sleeping dog. Also, make the child aware that the dog’s bed is his own safe place and he should never be disturbed.

Allowing a small child to hand feed a dog will give the dog the impression that he can take food from a toddler’s hand whenever he feels like it. How can a dog differentiate between a treat for himself and the child’s own sandwich or biscuit?

Children can learn so much from dogs if they are educated by parents to always treat them with RESPECT. They should be taught that a dog is not human and does not think or act like a human. It should be pointed out that a dog needs boundaries and consistent training. If these simple guidelines are followed the child and dog will form a mutually respectful relationship.

Additional Reading

How Children Learn From Dogs

Finding the right time to own a dog.


The following book is a great way to introduce children to dogs.

Pet That Dog!

 Gideon Kidd and Rachel Branigan


Don't - Pet That Dog

Purchase Link

From 11-year-old dog-loving Gideon Kidd of the viral Twitter account I’ve Pet That Dog comes a guide for young readers to befriend and care for dogs of all shapes, sizes, and personalities!   

Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends is an illustrated guide to meeting, petting, and caring for dogs by Gideon and his mom, Rachel Braunigan. Learn how dogs communicate through body language, helpful tips for safely interacting with dogs, and fun facts about dogs to share with friends. (Did you know that all-white dogs are more likely to be deaf? Or that dogs poop in alignment with the north-south axis of the Earth’s magnetic field?) You can even keep track of the pups you meet with your very own Dog Tracker.

With an interactive format and joyful illustrations of lovable dogs, Pet That Dog! makes a perfect gift for dog lovers and dog-curious kids.

My Thoughts

This book is a great way to introduce children to dogs. It gives details of how to approach and start a respectful relationship, how to read dog body language and fun facts about our canine friends.

Some of the information is basic but there are some useful tips and it is certain to educate and inspire children, I like that the book has interactive sections where photographs can be inserted when a child meets a new dog. There is even an ‘eye spy’ area where you can add details of different breeds you have met.

The illustrations are bright and will appeal to very young children. The pictures are a great way to interact, have fun and still educate a child. They work well with the text, which could be adapted by the parent, to suit the age of the child.

Many of the stories are truly inspirational and will show children just how brave, loving and loyal dogs can be.

I was pleased to see that the book suggests the rescue option of finding a new dog and the importance of service dogs. It would be a great way of educating a child before a new dog is welcomed into the family. This would be a great addition to a school library or a fun gift for young aspiring dog owners.

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book, which has been reviewed honestly.


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