Why are we doing this?After being involved for a number of years in pet dog training and animal healthcare, I have visited many homes with children. I have seen why dog bites, especially among children are the second most frequently seen injury in U. S. hospital emergency departments.Most of these incidents are due to the fact that children have not been taught to pay attention to a dog’s body language. Children are very comfortable and familiar with their own dog at home, and may be able to treat them like a teddy bear. When a child becomes overly confident when greeting a new dog, they themselves can send a variety of body language messages that can cause a dog to become scared and show protective behavior out of fear.
When dogs become fearful, they tend to have a fight or flight mindset that may end up as a dog bite. Out of all dogs, 95 % of the bites that happen are based on a dog being fearful not the dog being truly aggressive. Owners of dogs who act fearful should begin by building a foundation of obedience along with confidence building exercises to help develop a more out going dog that is less susceptible to fearful encounters.If children become better educated about dog safety it would greatly reduce their chances of injury. Here is a comparison of the frequency of annual U. S. hospital emergency department* visits for injuries associated with selected activities and products. Activity No. of visits
- Baseball/Softball – 404,364
- Dog Bites – 333,687
- Playgrounds – 266,810
- ATV/mopeds – 125,136
- Volleyball – 97,523
- Inline Skating – 75,994
- Horseback riding – 71,162
- Baby walkers – 28,000
- Skateboards – 25,486
*Data from US Consumer Product Safety Commission (200__).
COU has developed a free program that will teach children how to behave around dogs and to help children who are scared of dogs build their confidence to help reduce the chance of future dog bite injuries. The one hour program consists of:
- Demonstrations of dog body language using pictures and graphic images of safe and unsafe dogs
- Proven techniques to help keep a dog away from you if you feel threatened.
- A game/test to reinforce the lessons of the program.
By performing these exercises with children, it will give them greater awareness of dog body language and how to read a dog’s temperament, and, how to know if and by which method they should use to interact with that dog.
To obtain more information about this valuable safety program, please contact us to learn how your school or civic group can become involved in promoting child safety.