August 12, 2015

Back-to-School Dog Greeting Etiquette

Author: Celeste Glassman


Make Sure Your Children And Your Dog Are Ready For The Back-To-School Bus Stop

Soon the leaves will be changing colors and warm clothes will be rotated back into the wardrobe, signs that mark the return of back-to-school routines for many of you and your children and floofins.

As dog walkers and pet sitters, we often see parents walking their dog and child to the bus stop or meeting them halfway from school to walk home. Before you include your dog in the trip to and from school, consider reviewing his socialization skills to see if he is really ready to join in. It is also a good time to review dog greeting etiquette with your children to prevent negative interactions with unfamiliar dogs.

Laughing children, bicycles, cars, horns, bouncing balls, scooters and whistles are a short list of the many sights and sounds encountered during the school day. While those may be normal to people, it can be quite frightening to a dog. Introduce a fearful dog and a child running up to greet him and you have a potential dog bite on your hands.

Dr. Sophia Yin has some good examples of inappropriate and appropriate greetings for children and adults to control the “instant gut reaction to the cuteness of some dogs”:

  • Avoid reaching into their safety zone, especially if they are in a car.

  • Instead, stand at a safe distance so you are not a threat.

  • Avoid rushing up to the dog.

  • Instead, approach slowly at a relaxed pace.

  • Avoid interacting with unfamiliar dogs, especially if they are tied up.

  • Instead, always ask if you can interact first.

  • Avoid staring directly at the dog or approaching head on.

  • Instead, approach offset or sideways using your peripheral vision if the owner says it’s OK.

  • Avoid leaning over or toward the dog even when changing positions to squat or get up.

  • Instead, stay outside the dog’s bubble and present your side to the dog.

  • Avoid reaching your hand out for the dog to sniff.

  • Instead, let the dog approach you at his own rate.

According to the ASPCA over 4.5 million adults and children are bitten by dogs each year; that’s nearly 2% of the U.S. population!

If your floofin is accustomed to large crowds and lots of noise, they may be a good greeting companion in front of the schoolhouse. Take extra time to evaluate your dog’s behavior and emotional signals and avoid putting them in situations that may stress them out. Talk with your vet, dog trainer, or trusted behavior consultant with any questions or concerns.

Check out this quick PSA for dog bite prevention.

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