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Educator wants to help kids better understand their puppies

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Lesley Zoromski is on a mission to improve communication.

“They don’t understand the subtleties. If they understood, they could make better decisions,” she said.

Zoromski is referring to a child and his/her relationship with his/her dog.

The Petaluma dog trainer and retired educator has been working with families that include both children and dogs for 15 years, teaching both pet and family how to better understand one another.

The Humane Society of the United States reports that there are more than 4.5 million dog bites annually in the United States. Zoromski said many of the incidents could have been avoided with just a little more knowledges of dog body language.

Zoromski is taking her quest to teach children (and parents) how to not only be safe around dogs, but how to get more enjoyment out of their relationship with their pets. She has devised a learning tool, called “Stop, Look & Paws” that she shares not only with clients of her dog-training business, but is now also taking into the schools.

“By going into the schools I am able to reach a large number of students at one time,” she said. “It is not just me talking to the students, but I have a chance to get them to talk and share their opinions. I am always surprised at what the kids are thinking.”

Zoromski is working with local businesses to sponsor her program for kindergarten and first-grade classes. Included in her presentation are special Stop, Look & Paws activity packages that include an activity board, reusable dog stickers, an educational dog sticker guide and training tips.

“I’m proud of the fact that local veterinarians have been the biggest supporters and sponsors of getting Stop, Look and Paws to children in the schools,” she said.

She emphasized that it isn’t just the kids who need to understand the family pet. “It is important for parents to understand the support the kids need,” she said.

“They need to help the child communicate to their puppies the right way. For example children should know that when the dog is eating it is a good time to leave it alone.

“Dogs think differently than we do. It is important for a child and their dog to learn mutual respect.”

Zoromski offers individual training for dogs and families through her business, kids-n-k9s, but realizes that many people don’t have the time or can’t afford to hire a professional dog trainer.

By taking Stop, Look & Paws into the schools, she hopes to reach many more young people,

“I really enjoy getting in front of the children and hearing their thoughts on dogs so I get an opportunity to guide their future decisions,” she said.

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