During the third week in May, the U.S. Postal Service, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Doggone Safe Inc., and other organizations will be calling attention to one of North America's most commonly reported public health problems: dog bites.
Doggone Safe, a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education, offers free information at its website www.doggonesafe.com to help promote safety messages during Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 16-22, 2010). Doggone Safe also promotes the "Be a Tree" program. This program for school-aged children is a short presentation with large photos and lots of activities to teach children to understand the signs dogs send with their body language. The central message of this program is "Be a Tree"—stand still if a strange dog approaches, or if any dog is threatening or overly frisky.
Doggone Safe offers the following tips for parents and dog owners to help keep kids safe:
The central message of the "Be a Tree" program is to stand still if a strange dog approaches, or if any dog is threatening or overly frisky.
The three most important things to teach your kids
- Dogs don't like hugs and kisses—Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or other face-to-face contacts are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
- Be a tree if a strange dog approaches—Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs, and any time the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.
- Never tease a dog—and never disturb a dog that's sleeping, eating, or protecting something.
The two most important things parents can do
- Supervise—Don't assume your dog is good with kids. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog, too. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten before, why take a chance?
- Train the dog—Take your dog to obedience classes where positive-reinforcement is used. Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down, or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members. Involve older children in training the family dog while supervising. Don't allow children to punish the dog and don't punish the dog yourself. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.
The three most important things dog owners can do
- Spay or neuter your dog—Neutered pets are calmer, healthier, and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering prevents unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters or in less than ideal conditions where they may grow up to be poorly socialized or aggressive.
- Condition your dog for the world—Give your puppy lots of new positive experiences. Train using positive methods like clicker training.
- Supervise your dog—Supervise your dog around children at all times. Do not allow children to hug and kiss the dog. If visiting children are bothering your dog, put the dog away or send the children home.
In addition, Doggone Safe offers resources for use during Dog Bite Prevention Week, which include a parent guide, activity and coloring pages for kids, safety pamphlets for parents, a three-minute slide show/video, articles for online or print newsletters, and public service announcements for radio in script and recorded form. These materials can be accessed through the website www.doggonesafe.com.
Doggone Safe has experts in dog training, dog behavior, and dog bite prevention education available for interview.Supervise your dog around children at all times.
About Doggone Safe Inc.:
The not-for-profit Doggone Safe mandate is based on jurors' recommendations following an inquest into the mauling death of 8-year-old Courtney Trempe in Ontario, Canada. Along with their many educational programs, Doggone Safe also provides victim support and administers the Courtney Trempe Memorial fund, in Courtney's memory, to help provide trauma counseling (not provided by insurance) for child dog bite victims and their families.