With summer holidays fast approaching and children due to spend more time outdoors over the next few months, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is launching its first official Be Dog Smart Week (June 19-25), in a bid to help teach children everywhere how to stay safe around dogs.
This initiative comes after NHS data reveals that over the past 5 years, children under 16 accounted for 8,000 hospital admissions as a result of dog bites– around four admissions every single day.
Shockingly, 70% of these bites occurred on children aged 0-9, with over 1,000 of these incidents taking place in 2015-2016 alone. In the past five months, the charity has had 142 calls from worried parents wanting to give up their dog because their child doesn’t know how to interact safety with the family pet.
Whilst there is no escaping the hard fact that dog bites can and do happen, Be Dog Smart Week provides an important opportunity to teach children how to act safely around dogs. The charity has developed some quick tips and an easy-to-follow infographic which it hopes parents, grandparents, dog owners and anyone who is concerned will share with friends and family. The practical tips and advice, available in the infographic, as well as being delivered through fun and engaging school workshops, will help children understand the simple ways they can ‘Be Dog Smart’. It’s also important for dog owners to recognise their dog’s behaviour and learn how to read the signs that their dog may be feeling uncomfortable or scared. This awareness could go a long way towards reducing the number of dog bites happening both in the home and in public spaces.
Hollie Sevenoaks, Head of Education at Dogs Trust said: “Be Dog Smart Week is an important initiative that will help us continue to spread fundamental dog safety advice to thousands of children and parents across the UK. Whether your family owns a dog or not, 33% of children in the UK will encounter a dog every single day. Whilst being around dogs can have so many wonderful benefits for young people, the simple fact is that any dog can bite or snap if worried, scared or hurt. Many of these bites are preventable, and at Dogs Trust, we believe educating children, parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, guardians, and dog owners about dog safety, is the first step to preventing such incidents.
“We‘re calling on parents to share our new infographic, which illustrates practical tips to help kids stay safe around dogs. We’re also holding workshops in primary schools all over the country for the whole week, offering advice and tips to youngsters and their parents about how to behave around dogs, such as do not approach a dog you don’t know and always ask an owner if their dog likes to be stroked before touching their dog. Resources including printable leaflets and educational videos are also available online.”
To share the Dogs Trust infographic check out the charity’s social media feeds or visit www.bedogsmart.org.uk
For more information, advice and to book a Be Dog Smart workshop please visit www.bedogsmart.org.uk
The ‘Be Dog Smart’ Family Guide is also available to download and is packed full of practical tips for the whole family.