Lessons Children Need to Learn About Dogs

"Watch Me!" is an important command to teach your dog.

“Watch Me!” is an important command to teach your dog.

If you are looking for an invaluable aid to teach children (grades 3-6 approximately) about dogs–how to handle dogs, how to read a dog’s body language, what dogs can do, how dogs learn, or even the history of dog’s and dog breeds–A Dog is A Dog and That’s Why He’s So Specialwill fill the bill and then some.  This is a wonderful educational tool that can be used by rescue groups, kids camps for dogs, humane education, or in the public classroom. Not only it is educational; it is FUN!

Along with the information there are games kids can play with their dog, quizzes, interesting sidebars, entertaining photos and comical illustrations kids will love. Sidebars relate all manner of interesting facts that middle school age youngsters love to relate: the differences between wolves and dogs, a scientific seal-sniffing experiment, deaf dogs and dogs with sensitive hearing, and the proper way to approach a strange dog.


Most importantly, Rutherford, a writer, dog trainer and grandparent, 0ffers fascinating facts about how dogs use their natural instincts in everyday life and how instincts affect their behavior. For example, chasing a cat or a squirrel are natural expressions of the prey instinct. But so are chasing children who are running! Sounds of laughter or shouting in a high-pitched voice can excite the prey instinct, causing some dogs to chase and jump on children. Dogs must be taught not to respond inappropriately to such stimuli, says the author.

iStock_000010920725Barking dog

Kids will learn how dogs see the world differently than humans do, how they use their senses, how they relate to a pack, and how they communicate with body language. Did you know that a yawn doesn’t mean the dog is bored; a yawn  may mean the dog is confused and can’t figure out what is expected of him. It is sometimes used as a sign of friendliness. Yawning is also used to calm another animal. “When you see the body signals, you must think about what is going on at the time and what the dog is doing. The more you observe dog signals, the better you will understand ‘Corky’ and other dogs,” counsels Rutherford.


“Dogs read every bit of your body language. You can use some of the same signals that dogs use to communicate with your own or other dogs. When you see an excited or shy dog walking towards you, turn your head and begin walking toward him in a curved line. As you get closer, approach him from the side (instead of the front). If you’re playing with a puppy that gets too rambunctious, turn your back, fold your arms and don’t look at him for a minute. This should calm him.”


Finally, there are chapters on teaching manners and basic obedience lessons like Sit, Down and Stay, a section on why dogs misbehave and what to do about it, and a great chapter on how to have fun with your dog.

If you’re looking for a gift for a dog-loving youth, teaching about dogs and/or dog safety, or want to provide humane education for families, this book comes highly recommended. You can find A Dog is A Dog and That’s Why He’s So Special here.

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