Petco launches campaign to teach kids dog safety

SAN DIEGO — Pet specialty retailer Petco is launching a campaign to teach children how to safely approach and interact with dogs. The educative measure aims to lower dog-bite statistics, which drives traffic into its brick-and-mortar stores.

Petco certified dog trainers recommend that children follow the SAFE method, which is explained as follows: 

S: Stop, stand still and turn sideways before getting close to the dog.

A: Ask the owner for permission to pet the dog first.

F: Fist, offer a closed fist for the dog to sniff while standing still. Allow the dog to approach you. If the dog is friendly, pet the dog under its chin.

E: Exit slowly away from the dog by backing up, then turning to walk away.

To avoid startling dogs, children should not run up to any unfamiliar dog or pet the animal on the top of the head or on its face. The SAFE method gives dogs a comfort zone in which to meet a child and approach that child if they feel comfortable.

Petco certified dog trainers also recommend that children "make like a tree" by standing as still as possible in the event a loose dog approaches them. Children should keep their hands by their sides or behind them, and look down at the ground while staying quiet and never pet or engage any loose dog. Dogs will most likely lose interest and walk away, and children should stay in this position until they can no longer see the dog. 

Petco is also offering Positive Dog Training classes. The 30-minute class provides hands-on tips and information about greeting both familiar and unfamiliar dogs, as well as how to care for the physical, mental, social and emotional health of animals. Petco's Positive Dog Training rewards good behavior in a group or private setting. Classes keep dogs socially engaged and mentally alert by stimulating their minds while keeping them active. 

Petco is offering the training classes as part of its mission to not only supply pet owners with products but also with services and advice on how to keep happy, healthy pets in a safe environment. 

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