ESSEX -- The warm weather is here. Kids and pups are out to play but not every child knows how to greet a new dog safely. Joe Wasyl of Essex is often surprised at how Marmaduke-loving tots treat his Great Dane, T-Bone.
"You’ll get kids running and screaming, 'Scooby,' and the parents are kind of nowhere to be found in the immediate area," he said.
"You have to respect a dog’s space," said Branford dog trainer Michelle McAdam. "What scares me is that a dog feels very vulnerable when you rush up and go right in the dogs space."
Folks can avoid bad scenes with a few simple rules. McAdam, who has been training dogs for 21 years, said all parents should teach their kids how to greet a new dog safely and with respect.
A kid should never hug a new dog but he should ask the following questions: "May I pet your dog? Is he friendly?"
If he gets the go-ahead, approach Fido calmly - not from the back or the front.
"If you’re going to approach a dog, make a very wide berth - not head on - and put your hands down and let the dog check you out," said McAdam.
These guidelines apply to all dogs - not just very large ones. McAdam has been called the Dog Whisperer.
"When you’re referred to as a Dog Whisperer it’s because you read dogs you speak their language," she said. "Humans put a lot of pressure on dogs to think like a human. And they don’t. They’re dogs."
When kids approach T-Bone correctly, he responds well. He's not afraid or nervous. It's a good situation for everyone.
"I just explain to them, 'You can meet him but one at a time and be very careful and no screaming,'” said Wasyl. "You know what? It’s just very comfortable."