Today was Grooming Day. We have had a lovely woman come to our house in her Grooming Truck and we have always been pleased with her work. When the van pulled up at our house, Ziggy our 1 year old rescue started to bark so of course Frisco our calm 10 year old started to bark. There was a new person at the door. Our usual groomer had given the business to her son.
The door opened and Ziggy ran around barking his head off. He is afraid of new people. The new groomer turned around and left. We were surprised and disappointed that he did not take a few minutes to try and connect with Ziggy and take the opportunity to get to know this little rascal.
My students love pets. I make sure to bring Ziggy and Frisco to class so the students can practice their skills around unfamiliar animals. Students love to bring in their pets when they are "Person of the Week". We have had cats, ferrets, dogs, fish, snakes, frogs, turtles, birds, and tarantulas!
There is a special bond between children and animals. I like to encourage students to take an active part in the care of their own pets, to learn how to introduce themselves to an animal, and to learn appropriate behavior around animals.
Here are a few guidelines (this is mostly for dogs but can be adapted to other types of animals):
- Before approaching an unfamiliar animal, ask the owner's permission and abide by their wishes.
- Be calm and quiet.
- Move gently.
- Kneel down and let the dog sniff your open palm.
- Make eye contact with the dog.
- Do not reach over the dog's head to pet it, move your hand around his side and pet him on the back.
- Avoid behavior that will excite the dog such as running, squealing, yelling, jumping, sudden movements and loud noises.
That's really all it takes to make friends with a dog. If your child is afraid of an animal, don't force him or her to touch it or insist the child should not be afraid. Acknowledge the fear. Then help your child learn more about animals, start with something small like a guinea pig or hamster. Children can overcome their fears but it takes time, patience, and love.
Now if I could only get that groomer back here, I could help my son Ziggy overcome his fear of this fellow with time, patience and love.