© Copyright Moulton 2005

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Avon, CT

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Safety Around Dogs Program for Children

Dear Parents,

As a trainer, I get many calls about dogs biting - usually biting children. My goal is to help people understand and communicate better with dogs in order to minimize risks and improve our relationships with dogs. Adults and children can learn how to be safe around dogs – whether it is the family pet or a strange dog that comes up to you on the street  Most importantly I want to educate children how to be safe around dogs.

Around 60% of reported dog bites involve children, the majority of which are children under 9 years old, primarily due to their lack of knowledge and understanding in accurately reading possible danger signals. Many of these incidents involve family pets or dogs that are known to the children, so it is important that they realize both familiar and unfamiliar animals can at times be unpredictable.

Dogs are amazing animals. They love us unconditionally. They find lost children. They fetch the newspaper. They swim. They lay by the fire. They pull sleds in the snow. They play fetch. They predict seizures and sniff out cancer cells. They lead the blind. They hear for the deaf. They comfort the elderly. They leap from helicopters to rescue the drowning. They roll in stinky stuff. They dig up your garden. They die for us in war time. They sniff out drugs and bombs. They pull wheelchairs. They steal the remote. They warm our feet and our hearts. We love dogs!

Sadly, humans largely misunderstand dogs. In most cases, a bite is a normal dog behavior and is acceptable within the dog world. The dog that bites is not necessarily a mean dog or a bad dog - he is just a dog. However, biting is not acceptable in our human world. To prevent dog bites requires an understanding of what motivates a dog to bite and how to reduce risk through modification of both human and dog behavior.

Dogs and children are fantastic companions, as long as basic guidelines are followed. We often assume that all dogs are the same and will predictably react the same way. We assume that some breeds of dogs always bite and others never do. Sadly many of our assumptions are incorrect. Many factors contribute to how a dog behaves - health, diet, and stress just to name a few. It is impossible to predict the behavior of even the most reliable pet under every single circumstance. After all, they are dogs who are living beings and not programmable machines.

We expect dogs not to bite because it is unacceptable behavior to us. However many reasons exist as to why dogs bite. Often bites can be easily prevented and avoided if we understand the 'dog’s perspective'. Even if you think you have the most perfectly trained, perfectly behaved, controlled, placid pet - children should never be left alone with dogs.

My presentation includes information about how to read dog body language and facial expressions, (including how a wagging tail does not necessarily mean a 'happy dog'!). Body language and facial expressions are the primary ways in which dogs communicate to us how they are feeling at any given time.

In my presentation, I will help children and parents to recognize situations, which could place them in danger. I will also explain what actions will keep children safe, what to do if approached by a strange dog, and how to use calming signals if a dog displays any kind of aggression or over excitement. Children will also learn that sometimes the way they behave when around dogs can be the cause of them getting bitten, and why.

My goal is to teach people how to be safe around dogs and prevent dog bites.

If you would like to book me for a presentation for a school or club, please contact me.