Greenville is a fantastic city for being dog friendly, and small ones and dogs can often come into contact downtown, at 5K events and even on outings to the park. It is imperative that children learn the rules of how to safely interact with dogs, whether it is a furry family member or a strange pooch on the street. Anna Pool of Speedy Paws Agility and Stephanie Brooks of Tail Light Dogs have a few pointers.

• “Never punish a growl,” said Pool.

Brooks agreed. “A dog speaks with their body,” she said, adding a child may not be cued in to those signs.

A growl is likely the fourth or fifth sign a dog has given to a child or person to back off. Place immediate distance between your child and the dog and seek a Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed for assistance.

• Always supervise your child around a dog. Even good, old family dogs can get cranky.

“A toddler could inadvertently trip and fall on your sleeping dog, and being startled awake could cause your normally sweet-natured dog to bite,” Pool said.

This is especially true of older fur babies. They can have arthritis or be overly stressed out by the shrieking sounds of littles.

• Ask before petting an unknown dog and accept the answer given by the owner. If they are given permission, Pool advises, “Scratch under the chin, be gentle and for very young children have an adult guide their hand.”

Make your child aware that dogs say hello by sniffing and they will likely do that before allowing a child to touch them.

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