- The Humane Society estimates 51% of dog bite victims are children.
- Getting bitten by a dog is the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms for children according to a survey done.
- Children are also more likely than adults to need medical attention, and are far more likely to be severely injured.
As a former elementary school teacher and now current dog trainer, I have seen the results of dog bites to children.
When this occurs it is not just the body that is hurt, but the mind is hurt as well. When a dog bites an individual, whether it is a child or an adult, there can be psychological trauma to overcome. Hearing the stories that lead up to the bite, I found that many times these situations may have been avoided with prior knowledge regarding canine body language.
I developed Stop, Look & Paws as one tool that can start the process of understanding some basic canine body language and that each dog can be uniquely different. Its purpose is to give children and their guardians an opportunity to work together using a hands-on learning activity to begin the process of understanding common scenarios and dogs body language.
Children learn best by using hands-on activities and by being encouraged to share their own thoughts about images that they see rather than just listening to a book being read. The guide that is written to the adults helps to give further background information on each illustration, Often times even the adult is surprised with the knowledge of why a dog should not be approached. I am a firm believer in explaining why something should not be done rather than just saying “don’t do it.”
Because there are so many nuances to canine body language, this is only the start of additional learning activities I plan to develop. Giving children the opportunity to use Stop, Look and Paws can empower them with helpful information to make thoughtful decisions in their future