Abracadabra!  Alakazam!  I want to be my dog’s best friend!  You certainly don’t have to be a magician to know that with a wag of his tail, a dog can put a smile on anyone’s face.  Five-year-old Alisha S. of Huntington Beach, California says it best, “I was crying because I got stung by a bug, but then my dog Lilly licked me and licked me until I started to laugh.”

If you treat a dog kindly, giving him food, water and a safe place to live, he will become the most loyal friend you have ever known.  According to Larry Kay, Author of Life’s a Bark: What Dogs Teach Us About Life & Love, “Children can learn to be better friends to others by learning to be friends with their dog.”

When you share your life with a pooch, it’s like living your own fairy tale.  To your dog, you are a heroic knight or beautiful princess.  Your dog doesn’t care if you’re not the prettiest or smartest.  He listens to your problems and never criticizes.  He’ll let you read-out-loud and will never laugh if you mispronounce a word.  Your dog won’t make fun if you hit a bad note on the trumpet, but he may cover his ears with his paws.   Best of all, when you’re having a not-so-good day, your faithful four-legged friend will put his head in your lap, and with his loving brown eyes he’ll say, “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,” and you know what?  It will be okay because cheering up humans is one of a dog’s greatest tricks.


I’m sure you’ve heard that dog is man’s best friend (woman’s too), but by following a few simple rules YOU can be a dog’s best friend too!  Always ask an adult to supervise, and be patient with your pup, but try some of these things to show your canine that you care:



  1. Brush and bathe him, checking for fleas & ticks.  If you find any, show your parents.Help shop for dog food or a new pet toy.
  2. Wash and dry your pet’s bowls, and make sure he has fresh water.
  3. Walk your dog on a leash to keep him safe.
  4. Teach him a fun trick.  Fifteen-year-old Malone T. of Chatsworth, California helped teach Riley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, to sneeze on command.  “He puts his paws to his face and sneezes!” Malone brags.
  5. Brush your dog’s teeth (Yeah, dogs need dental care to stay healthy too).
  6. Keep him company at his yearly veterinary visit, and make sure he is securely buckled into a doggie seat belt any time he goes for a car ride.
  7. Toss the ball, scratch your dog’s ears or just sit quietly and enjoy the breeze together.

When your pooch does what you ask, reward him with a healthy treat, but don’t share your own food with your pet.  What is good for humans can sometimes make dogs sick.  Chocolate is a big NO, NO, and so are grapes and raisins, onions, certain nuts and plants as well as fatty foods and gravies.

Eleven-year-old Ryan W. of Orlando, Florida, says, “My favorite thing to do with my Basset Hound Fred is to scratch his belly when he lies in the grass.”  Spending quality time together is what being a best friend is about, but knowing how to take care of your dog is important too.  Malone’s twelve-year-old brother Braxton knows it’s important to keep your dog away from bees. “My aunt taught me what to do if a dog gets bitten, but I try hard to make sure that never happens,” he explains.  His aunt, Milana Manasse, who owns MickiRi’s Dogercise (a pet sitting service in the San Fernando and Simi Valley areas of Southern California) confirms, “Braxton has earned my trust by not only being careful around animals, but by also showing me that he is concerned about their well-being.”

Pet First Aid for KidsLike Braxton, you too must look out for your four-legged friend.  Since dogs and people don’t speak the same language, you won’t understand when your dog tries to say, “I think I’m gonna hurl!” or “I’ve got a killer headache,” so you need to watch for unusual behavior instead.   Help your parents put together a pet first-aid kit so that you’ll have what you need when Fido needs help.

Don’t forget however, that ANY animal has the potential to bite, and if your dog becomes frightened or is in pain, he won’t act cuddly and sweet.  Know the warning signs that Rover wants to be left alone.  Growling, ears laid back and fur standing up are all signals to give your dog time to chill out.

Just remember, if you treat your four-legged best friend the way you want to be treated, the life you live together can end up “happily ever after!”





Always ask before you pet a dog.  Scratch him under the chin since raising your hand above a dog’s head could make him think you are going to slap him.

If an animal you don’t know comes near you, stand still like a tree and let him sniff you.  Take care not to startle a dog.  Stacy Sweeting of Orange County California’s SPCA taught her daughter to talk to their new dog from a safe distance before approaching.  “This way the dog knows Alisha’s coming and won’t react suddenly,” she explains.



If you see a stray or injured animal, tell an adult right away.






Provide your own pet with food, water and shelter along with love, attention and exercise, and of course…make sure he gets a yearly veterinary check-up.






Check your yard to be sure your dog can’t pull a Houdini act by disappearing under or climbing over the fence, and always walk him on a leash when he’s not secure in the yard.





Never tease a dog by pulling his ears or tail.  Don’t throw things at a dog or try to ride or chase him.  Nine-year-old Josie S. once saw someone spank a poodle near her Chicago home.  “It made me cry. I know it hurt the doggie just like it hurts a person,” she sobbed.

Do not go near a dog that is tied up or chained since he probably isn’t happy about his situation.  Instead, tell an adult.  Eight-year-old Chloe M. of Leesburg, Florida and her younger sister Jillian sadly explain, “There is a dog in our grammy’s neighborhood that is chained up even when it is raining or cold outside.  It makes us sad and mad because people don’t treat him like they love him.  They shouldn’t have a dog if they don’t want to spend time with him.”

Never disturb an animal when he is eating or sleeping, and never grab a dog’s toys from him.  According to Los Angeles Dog Trainer, Duane Overturf, “If a person does something to a dog where he feels a need to defend himself, the dog will do what he has to do to keep from being hurt.”

Don’t run or scream if a dog comes near you, and never stare into an animal’s eyes.  Since humans and canines are different species, we don’t always understand each other.  Doing these things could scare a dog and make him act aggressively.

Never ever leave your dog alone in a car where he could suffer Heat Stroke, be stolen or suffocate from being locked in.


Please view my VLOG on this topic here: https://youtu.be/4kJnELv_Tyo  


Denise Fleck is an award winning author & radio show host, and a Pet First-Aid & CPR instructor who has personally taught more than 15,000 humans animal life saving skills and millions more via national television appearances.  She has authored 10 books including “The Pet Safety Bible,” and offers pet tips twice weekly at www.facebook.com/SunnyDogInk.  Learn more at www.PetSafetyCrusader.com.

Thanks to Marissa O’Brien, Sandrina Lee and Jackie Bass for the awesome photos on this page!

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