Thursday, 10 March 2011

Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs.

My children have been bought up in a dog-owning family, as was I, but over 75% of children have no regular, close contact with dogs.
What's the problem, you might think. Why do kids need to know about dogs if there aren't any in their lives? Well, most kids will come into unsupervised contact with a dog at some point And it's very important that they know how to behave when they do. Teaching children to behave correctly around dogs can prevent them from being frightened, from being hurt and maybe even from being killed.

Even if your family has a dog, it's worth reviewing how you and the children behave around your pet. Most dog bites are from family pets, not from strange dogs roaming the streets, and almost all of them could have been prevented. I've lost count of the stupid things I've caught my kids doing around our dogs and they should know better than to pick up accidentally dropped food off the floor in front of The Lurcher or climb into The Old Boy's bed with him.
Children are naturally attracted to dogs but unless taught otherwise, assume that they think and feel like another child would. Of course they don't and what seems a completely harmless situation to us may cause our pet to act aggressively through no fault of their own. Not only do we have to be aware of what might trigger unwanted behaviour in our pets, but we need to learn our dog's language, so we can tell when they are unhappy about something. If we can see how they are feeling, we can take steps to calm them down and help them feel safe again.

I have been visiting local schools using The Kennel Club Safe And Sound Scheme to teach children to 'speak dog' and how to behave safely around  them. We discuss how dogs show they are unhappy, and learn when they should stay away from dogs. I teach them to ask an owner if their dog is friendly, and how to pat them safely. And we talk about how to behave if a strange dog runs up to them, or even knocks them over.
These are important things for adults to learn as well, so have a look at Sashi's Code. Make your children aware of these points, then play The SAS Safety Factor Challenge with them, to see how much has sunk in.

These are brilliant  free resources, so make the most of them and help make your kids dog-safe.

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