The American Kennel Club’s Canine Ambassadors program — a network of volunteers across the country who advocate for purebred dogs, responsible dog ownership, and dog safety — offers some expert advice on this important topic.


1. Always inquire if it is okay for me to pet your dog.

When a dog has never met or lived with a child, or simply does not understand what a child is, the dog may perceive the child as being frightening. Darleen Wheelington of the South Arkansas Kennel Club is an AKC Canine Ambassador.


2. Begin by presenting the back of your hand to the dog for him to smell first.

When petting your dog, never reach your hand right over the dog’s muzzle or to the top of their head unless you have first presented your hand and received positive feedback from your dog.”


3. Don’t go running toward a dog.

“Many times, children run up to a dog with no hesitation at all, and while I am delighted to see love rather than fear in their eyes, I believe they should be taught how to approach a dog.”


4. Never yell or growl at a dog in any way.

It doesn’t matter whether the dog is alone, in a crate, or with a person; this is teasing the dog.’ – Kathy Davidson, AKC Canine Ambassador and member of the Iowa City Dog Obedience Club


5. All dogs are capable of biting because all dogs has sharp teeth.

In order to read a dog’s body language correctly, people must learn to respect the space of dogs. Dogs should also be supervised at all times when around children.


6. Never leave small children or dogs alone, especially when they are playing.

“Do not make the mistake of assuming a dog is’safe’ and ‘will never bite.’ It’s critical to keep an eye on the relationship because it can evolve over time.


7. Teach everyone in the family how to behave appropriately around the dog.

“Always supervise your child when riding or sitting on your dog, no matter how well behaved he is. Don’t pull on his ears or tail at any time. Avoid interfering with his sleep or eating — after all, would you want someone playing with your food while you’re trying to get some rest?”


8. ‘Stand like a tree’ when there are loose dogs around.

“In addition, it is critical that children understand when they should notify an adult if they see a loose dog or if they witness someone hurting a dog.


9. Service dogs are on the job and should not be interfered with.

“They must maintain their focus on their handlers, and you must always obtain permission before petting a Service Dog.


10. A dog is not the same as a person.

“When a dog feels threatened, cornered, or scared, it may bite. As a result, we must respect these facts and spend as much time as possible getting to know the different expressions of dogs so that we can anticipate how they are feeling.