Animals in Literature

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Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

Meeting a new dog is exciting, but it can also be scary (for people and dogs). This story shows students recommended ways to interact with unfamiliar dogs, providing helpful tips about all sorts of dog behavior, in a humorous way!

Why use this book?

  • Demonstrates recommended methods for approaching and greeting a dog.
  • Highlights the importance of reading dog body language and behaviour.

Animal Welfare Concerns:

  • A girl is depicted hugging a dog in one of the illustrations. It is evident by the dog’s body language that he doesn’t want to be hugged, a discussion with students around why you shouldn’t hug dogs would be beneficial. Although humans communicate and show affection through hugging we don’t see dogs hugging other dogs! Dogs typically like to be pet or scratched but hugging can be restricting and scary and in some cases can cause the dogs to bite to get out of the situation.

Ask Your Students:

  • Why is it important to greet a dog appropriately? If not done correctly, the dog and or greeter could get injured.
  • How can we apply the suggestions from the book on interacting with dogs to other animals? Many of the recommendations can be applied to other pets! Respecting an animal’s space, being quiet and gentle and leaving animals alone if they don’t want to interact, etc.
  • What are some animals that should be never greeted, and instead be left alone? Wildlife! Greeting wildlife can have negative consequences for both people and animals! People may be harmed by wildlife, and habituation of wildlife to people can have lethal consequences for animals.


  • Often when we see dogs, we get excited and want to pet them, without always thinking if the dogs want to be petted. Ask students how would you feel if someone that you did not know came up and invaded your personal space? Do you think dogs would share that feeling? As a class, go over Sophia Yin’s guide to greeting a dog (and what to avoid). In pairs or small groups, have students pick an interaction for them to role play (the incorrect interactions as well as the correct human to dog interaction) for the class. See if students can guess which human to dog interaction is recommended! After each group presents, have a discussion on what made some interactions recommended and why the others should be avoided.
  • As a class, watch this short Alberta SPCA video ‘Do Dog’s Like Hugs?’ (1:01) where a dog behaviour specialist explains why dogs don’t like hugs (and what they prefer instead!). Brainstorm a class list of others ways to show affection towards your dog, other than hugging. Taking on a walk, giving a treat, brushing, playing, petting or scratching, etc.

Additional Resources Related to Book:

  • For additional information on dog safety (reading dog body language, safely greeting a dog, etc.) visit The Family Dog website
  • For additional information on greeting a strange dog visit the BC SPCA website

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