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Teaching Kids To Interact Safely With Dogs

Kids have a natural curiosity about dogs, but recent statistics show that children under 9 years of age are the group most affected by dog bites and strikes.  So what is being done to reduce dog bite incidents involving children and teach them to understand dog behaviour and interact safely with them?

The Kennel Club has launched the UK’s first ever educational resource for primary schools to do just this.

The Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Teaching Resource, funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust, has been successfully piloted by Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Greater London – with great success.  The school has now been accredited officially as a ‘Safe and Sound School’ by the Kennel Club and the Year 4 pupils who were taught the resource absolutely loved it and have learnt lots about keeping safe around dogs.

Year four pupil Ronnie and his classmates work on their Safe and Sound Activity Books and learn about safe interaction with dogs during the launch of the Kennel Club's Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey. (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Year four pupil Ronnie and his classmates work on their Safe and Sound Activity Books and learn about safe interaction with dogs during the launch of the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey. (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

The resource is free for schools to use and is the first of its kind to be written to fit the national curriculum, so schools can write the resource into their lessons and use it to educate children on how to interact safely with dogs.

It teaches children about safety around dogs and includes elements such as understanding ‘dog language’, recognising signs that a dog’s behaviour may result in a dog showing aggression; why dogs may bite; what to do and what not to do around dogs; how to approach dogs; and what to do if a dog shows signs of aggression.

Schools which sign up to receive the resource will be provided with an interactive computer-based tool for the pupils to use for learning, which includes a number of visual elements to engage them in the classroom, something that any teacher will tell you is vital for effective learning.

Children aged eight are at the developmental level most suited to absorbing, understanding and remembering information being taught to them, so the resource has been designed for this age group (Year 4) but can be adapted and taught in Year 5 and Year 6, depending on the ability of the children and their current learning.

(Left to right) Year four pupils Sahil, Laila, Laureull, Holly and Ronnie learn about safe interaction with dogs during the launch of the Kennel Club's Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

(Left to right) Year four pupils Sahil, Laila, Laureull, Holly and Ronnie learn about safe interaction with dogs during the launch of the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

The Safe and Sound resource can be taught across four lessons, with the final lesson consisting of an assessment to determine the pupils’ learning. It is designed to be flexible and schools can teach it as a standalone module or can build aspects of it in to other lessons to cover the numeracy and literacy aspects which fit in to the national curriculum, such as English and maths.

With the UK’s dog population currently at a high of around 8.5 million, and around 25 per cent of households owning a dog, children will inevitably come across dogs in their day-to-day lives. Recent figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that between March 2014 and February 2015, there were 1,159 hospital admissions caused by dog related incidents (bites and strikes) affecting children up to the age of 9. This makes them the group most highly affected by dog bites, showing the need for a structured educational tool to educate children, as well as parents for continued home learning, on how to behave around dogs.

The Kennel Club has launched this resource for two simple reasons – to help ensure that children know how to safely interact with dogs and to help reduce dog bite incidents involving children.

The vast majority of dog bite incidents are avoidable and by schools using the Safe and Sound resource the Kennel Club hopes to see real change in the way children interact with dogs.

Year four pupil Holly learns about safe interaction with dogs with Twyla the Tibetan Terrier, during the launch of the Kennel Club's Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Year four pupil Holly learns about safe interaction with dogs with Twyla the Tibetan Terrier, during the launch of the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Resource, which is funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust and aims to reduce dog bite incidents involving children, at Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, Surrey (c) Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Most incidents involving dogs happen within the home and this education tool will teach children lessons in the classroom that they can then apply to their day-to-day lives at home.

For more information on the Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Teaching Resource, and for primary schools to sign up to teach the resource, visit www.safetyarounddogs.org.uk.

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