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Karen B. London
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Kids Brushing Dogs
A relationship-building activity

For dogs who love it, being brushed is such an enjoyable experience that it has the power to create good feelings towards whoever is doing the brushing. That’s one of the reasons I love to have kids brush dogs. It’s pretty sweet to watch a dog surrender to the loving care of children.

Because so many dogs find being brushed so pleasurable, it can be a great component of building a strong relationship between kids and dogs. It’s great for kids to play with dogs, but some quiet time together has value, too.

Kids and dogs can have a strong bond, but promoting it means avoiding troublesome interactions of all kinds between them. Obviously, if a dog dislikes being brushed, kids should not ever brush the dog. Equally obviously, kids need to be heavily supervised during this activity.

Of course, it’s critical that the kids are mature enough to be gentle and that they have the ability to be careful. They need to be capable of noticing if a dog flinches even the tiniest amount in response to a tender spot or perhaps a knot. It’s essential that they react by easing up or moving to a new area.

I love that brushing dogs, especially with proper supervision, teaches kids to treat dogs with tenderness. Learning how to take care of dogs and be kind to them involves playing with them, taking them out for walks, and taking care of their bodies, too. If kids love to brush, and the dog loves to be brushed, it’s a win-win that helps build and maintain one of life’s most beautiful relationships.

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by Flint Weiss/Flickr

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