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When Should Children Be Allowed To Walk Dogs Alone?

 by jaime on 23 Aug 2014 |
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Children absolutely love having a family dog around and no doubt are always keen to join you when you take your pal out for its daily walk, but when is it OK for them to go walking unaccompanied with their pooch?

Children should at least be twelve years of age before you can even consider allowing them to walk a dog unattended. However age should not be the only factor for you to consider...

  • Is the child and dog mutually respectful?
  • Does the dog follow directions from the child?
  • Has the dog ever shown signs of aggression?
  • Has the dog ever chased cars or other animals?
  • Can the child read the dog's body language?
  • Can the child interpret situations make appropriate decisions?
  • Will your child be physically capable of handling the dog? A 70lb child will struggle to handle a 30lb dog.

If you are unsure about any of these, now is probably not the right time to allow your child to walk the dog.

In any case, prior to their first solo outing, make sure both child and dog are prepared by following these tips:

  • Before any dog walking commences, why not have your child volunteer at a local shelter to get used to different types of dogs and learn more about how dogs communicate and pinpoint any unfriendly behaviour.
  • Take your child with you when you go for a walk and slowly build up to them taking control of the leash, gradually increasing the distance that they do so. Once they've built up the confidence you can start to hang back a little bit and observe how they do.
  • You should ask your child probing questions about what they would do in challenging situations, such as if another dog approaches. It's important to try and prepare them as best you can so they aren't startled if something unusual should happen.
  • Make sure you always remind them what a big responsibility it is to walk the dog and that they must always pay attention to what is going on around them.
Importantly, you should take into consideration your neighborhood and your usual walking route. What are the local dogs like? Are there many strays? If you don't think it's safe enough, then it's probably not a good idea to allow your child to go walking alone.

However, the most ideal situation is to go walking as a family and make it an activity everyone gets involved in and enjoys!


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