Teaching Your Child to Pat, Pet, Pause

As your child grows older and more comfortable around new dogs, it is important to not only teach them to ask you and/or the owner if they can pet the dog but ALSO learn to know when a dog wants to be pet.

A great way to teach this is to follow Pat, Pet, Pause.

PAT to Invite the Dog

After asking the parent and owner for permission, tell your child to stand still and gently tap their leg to invite the dog over.

If the dog comes over, they are saying they’d like attention.

If the dog does NOT come over, the dog does not want attention. Teach your child to say Hi from a distance and walk away to pet a dog another day.

PET the Right Spot

If the dog accepted the invite, teach your child to pet the dog with one hand in a Safe Place such as the shoulder, under the chin, or on their side. NEVER let your child pet a new dog on the head or even their upper back.

PAUSE to Let the Dog Choose

After a couple of pets (or 3 seconds), teach your child to stop with their hands at their side. This allows them to know if the dog would like more affection.

If the dog walks away, they are done for the day.

If they stay next to them, they go to pet them again, like above, for another 3 seconds.

Additional Resources

The Family Dog: For the Kids Website

The Family Dog: Kids and Dogs Safety Website