Dog and kids: be a tree!

Blog post about dog bite prevention campaign for children
By Laure-Anne Viselé, April 2011

Bites to kids happen easily

Picture this: a toddler becomes completely hysterical when your dog walks calmly to him. The kid gestures wildly, and runs away shrieking. The dog gives chase, jumps up, and knocks over the kid, giving him excited nip bites.

Or this one: a bunch of kids are rough-housing inside, and they chase and corner the dog, or startle him when he’s asleep… The dog gives a warning bite.

  1. In scenario #1, the kid read the enthusiastic jumping as aggressive, and excited the dog more by running away.
  2. In scenario #2, the kids failed to look for warning stress signals.

In both cases, just a little bit of education in canine body language would have saved the day.

The shrilling sound of a shrieking child

Teach a child – Save a dog

A bite to a child rarely ends there.

  • the bitten kid may become distrustful of dogs for the rest of his life.
  • the dog may end up losing his home, family, and even his life.

International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge

  1. 50% of the children have been bitten by a dog at least once, and
  2. 50% of these incidents involved the child’s own dog.

So it is clear that a widespread prevention campaign is in order.

The global education campaign of International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge has taken the leadership in this  mission. Its worldwide campaigns have reached over 500,000 children since 2004.

During Bite Prevention Week (15 to 22 May 2011),  the IDBPC will teach 50,000 children (worldwide) through its “Be a Tree” school presentations.

The project is even backed by none other than Jean Donaldson (only the most balanced, knowledgeable, and prolific writer about positive dog training in the past few years).

How you can help

You may want to become a sponsor, to book a presentation for your school or to register as a presenter, or just to spread the word to your local schools.

Presenters might be veterinary technicians, dog trainers, dog behaviourists, nurses, emergency medical services personnel, animal control officers, police officers, and teachers.

For more information about the project, visit the Dog Bite Prevention Challenge.

Education programme for adults

I’d love to see the day when every dog owner and professional, not just children, can read a dog’s body language.

Only today, my dog kept backing away from the vet who wanted to stitch up his chin. He was:

  • shaking,
  • showing the white of his eyes,
  • tucking his tail,
  • etc.

He showed all the classic fear signals, yet the vet thought his behaviour was … stubborn.

But … Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s initiatives like the Dog  Bite Prevention Challenge that will make the world a more rational place for our dogs.

Any comments?

I always enjoy reading your comments, so do share your thoughts with  us. Have you or your child been bitten by a dog? Have you participated to a similar education programme? Has your dog been involved in a bite incident involving a child?

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