Monday, April 29, 2013

Cesar Milan - The Dog Whisperer speaks about Kids connection with Dogs

I have great respect for Cesar Milan and the work he does. He is an example to all dog owners and parents.

He has taught me so much through his programs and writings that I feel I should share this article with you and invite you to read more of his sage advice on his Blog site. -

"Friday was National Kids and Pets Day in the US. If you’ve had both at the same time, then you know that children, especially toddlers, are naturally drawn to animals, particularly dogs, and that calm, balanced dogs have a natural affinity for children."

Most of you reading this probably know that my life-long love for animals also goes back to my childhood, and I was even nicknamed “Dog Boy” because of it. My sons are the same way, especially Calvin, who is growing into a fine Pack Leader.

Here’s my question to you: Why do you think that most kids and dogs get along so well?

The reason is simple: Young children, like dogs, tend to be instinctual. They are very direct in their communication, and they do it through energy, intention, and body language. Dogs can understand and relate to this, because that’s how they communicate, too.

Facial Expressions
Some studies indicate that dogs can read human facial expressions as well, and if there’s one thing young children are not good at, it’s hiding their thoughts or emotions — if a kid thinks it or feels it, it shows up on their face.

Perhaps this is why dogs don’t necessarily react nervously or aggressively when that giggly toddler comes running up to them screaming in delight — they can instinctively understand that the gesture is the same as another dog initiating play, rather than a threat.

Dogs Can Bite
However... there are plenty of stories in the news about children being bitten, maimed, or worse by dogs, whether it was the beloved family pet or a strange dog on the loose, and it is very important from early on to teach our children basic dog safety.

Even an adult can be bitten by taking the wrong approach with a dog (it’s happened to me a time or two!), and it’s much easier for kids to accidentally take the wrong approach.

While I do teach that we should relate to our dogs instinctively,  that’s something for much older kids and grown-ups.

With young kids, we have to teach them to approach dogs intellectually first, then let them re-discover their instincts later.

Respect Their Space
We have to begin by teaching our children to respect a dog’s space, and never approach in a way that might startle or frighten the dog. They should never run at a dog with excited energy, and never chase a dog that is trying to avoid them.

When petting a dog, they should do it gently, and always under the chin or on the chest, never by reaching over the dog’s back and, most importantly, they should never, ever approach a strange dog, especially if it’s alone; otherwise, they should ask the dog’s caretaker first if it’s all right.

These rules apply to the pets in your own home as well, and you should never leave your dogs and young children together unsupervised.

Infants especially like to grab things — remember, to humans, touch is a very important way of learning about the world — and even the friendliest dog can react badly to suddenly having its tail or ears yanked.

Respect and Care
If you teach your very young children to approach animals with respect and care, it will not only help keep them safe, but educate them on how to treat animals for life, so they can have many rewarding experiences with them as they get older. Pets are also the perfect way to teach older children empathy and responsibility — two of the most important skills they can have as adults.

And, as adults, we can learn from our young children all over again how to approach the world with that sense of instinctual joy and curiosity that draws them to animals in the first place, but to do it in a way that is safe and rewarding for everyone involved, human and dog alike.

Read more of Cesar's articles here

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