Pawfest etiquette: Dogs and children

Here’s all you need to know about avoiding a clash between little ones and furry ones…

26th June 2023

Pawfest is an exciting dog festival in East Kent, returning to Betteshanger Park this September! For showing classes, trade stands, a bouncy castle, funfair, live music, and much, much more, join Animal Friends at Pawfest 2023

Kids and canines

We’re not talking about baby goats, but the two-legged human variety that we think will also love Pawfest – It could be pawfect for you and your whole family! (See what we did there?)

Taking our family members, furry and otherwise, to exciting events can create amazing memories that last a lifetime. However, canines and kids can sometimes be known to get over excited and create chaos in buzzing environments like festivals.

Never fear, we’re here to help. Here’s all you need to know about avoiding a clash between little ones and furry ones…


  • Ask! Always encourage children to ask the owner if it’s ok to say hello before approaching a dog.
  • Be polite. The best dog approach is the polite dog approach. After getting the owner's permission, it’s always best to invite a dog to approach you first. This can be done by either putting out a closed fist or flat palm to be sniffed, or by lightly tapping your legs to indicate that they can come and say hello. It’s also a good idea to teach your child not to stroke a dog’s head at first but to pat them from the side on the neck, chest or shoulders, as not all dogs enjoy this. 

  • Go slow and gentle. With any dog, it’s always best to stay calm and keep your movements slow and gentle so as not to create an uncomfortable situation. Remember, everyone will be surrounded by the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells of the festival, including our dogs, so slow and gentle petting can prevent them from being startled.

  • Give them space, stay out of their face. Much like us, most dogs don’t enjoy being hugged by strangers so it’s important that your kids know to keep a respectful distance and resist the urge to give the pup a cuddle or hug, or get too close to their face.


  • Keep it short. Whether you’re walking your dog, or your child (no judgement here!), on a lead, it’s important to keep their lead short. If you know your pooch likes to playfully pounce on new people, or your child likes to cuddle unknown canines, it’s best to keep them by your side to help manage those situations more easily and safely.



  • Leave them alone. Kids and canines of all ages should be accompanied at all times by an adult at the festival.

  • Stare into their eyes. Dogs (and humans alike) find it intimidating when someone stares straight into their eyes. It’s best not to engage in a staring contest with canines!
  • Disturb them while dining. Children should never approach or interrupt a dog while they’re eating or drinking. Much like our kids, not all pooches are keen on sharing their ice cream.
  • Take toys. Just as your child should never try to take a toy from a dog, your dog should never be allowed to take a toy from a child, either.
  • Stop their snooze. If your dog is enjoying an afternoon snooze or a relaxing nap, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

About Pawfest

Nestled between the glorious surroundings of Deal and Sandwich, amidst 230 acres of rolling countryside, Betteshanger Park is the perfect place for a pooch-themed extravaganza, like Pawfest.

Beautiful setting aside, there’s so much to do at Pawfest. From a choice of adventurous dog trails and the Canicross Course to Temptation Alley, an array of showing classes, and live demonstrations like Click Dog training, there’s something for every dog at Pawfest! Organisers haven’t forgotten to cater for kids, as there’s a Kidzone Funfair, face painting, bouncy castle, and tombola race to keep them busy. There’s something for you at Pawfest, too; there’ll be live music, street food, and a fully licensed bar.

What are you waiting for? Fetch your tickets for Pawfest before they’re gone!




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Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.