Animals in Literature

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Tails Are Not for Pulling

Tails Are Not for Pulling is a story about pets and how they communicate their feelings and needs. It also demonstrates how young people can interact with pets in a safe and respectful way. Learning that animals are sentient beings that have feelings and emotions allows students to better relate to them. Students may have experienced what it feels like to be teased, made fun of and not treated with respect. By using their own experiences, students will gain an understanding of how animals may feel if they are treated in similar ways. Humane education programs that highlight animal sentience and care have been shown to improve children’s attitudes towards animals and prosocial behaviours towards their classmates.

Why use this book?

  • Seventy-seven percent of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog. As such, it is important for students (and adults) to learn how to safely and respectfully interact with dogs and how to read their body language.
  • This book provides insight for children on how their actions can affect the emotions of others. Animal emotions can be identified through their behaviors and body language.

Ask your students:

  • Why do you think yanking a bunny’s ear or pulling a cat’s tail might hurt them? Would you like it if someone pulled or yanked your ear? What other actions might hurt?
  • Have you ever been teased? What did it feel like for you? Do you think animals might feel the same way? Why?
  • Have you ever had your own pet or someone else’s pet run away from you when you approached it? Why do you think the pet ran away? Do you think the animal was frightened? How do you know?
  • How do animals let us know they are not happy with the way we are treating them? Animals communicate with people using their body language and their behaviour.


  • How to Greet a Dog – Veterinarian and animal behaviourist Dr. Sophia Yin has created an informative poster describing how to appropriately greet and interact with a dog. First, go through the poster discussing the inappropriate ways to interact with a dog. Use the comparison to people to help illustrate why dogs typically don’t like certain actions or behaviors from people. Then, discuss appropriate ways to interact with a dog, again encouraging students to put themselves in the position of the animal. Finally, remind students not to approach a loose dog without an owner.

Tails Are Not for Pulling is part of the AnimalTales program. Above, is a small selection of the discussion questions and activities that can be found in the Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide. For additional discussion questions and activities request the FREE book-lending program for your class.

Additional Resources Related to Book:


Elizabeth Verdick, 2005


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