Friday, July 10, 2015

Doggone Safe Educational Images Series

In case you missed our social media campaigns during Dog Bite Prevention Week, here are the images from three series:

Except where noted you may repost these images with credit and a link back to

Safe Situations

Body Language Lessons

This image may not be reproduced on other sites - stock photos from Fotolia

Tip of the Day

Sunday, June 28, 2015

International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge Report from Liberia


By Morris Darbo

Duration: March to May 22, 2015 Report Date: May 26, 2015

Summary report on the activity implementation

Liberia is one of the countries in the world where little or no information is given to children about dog body language and bite prevention. Children are being attacked by dogs due to lack of knowledge about dog safety and dog behavior; and for every child that is attacked; it is the dog that pays the ultimate price when euthanized. Before the establishment of the dog bite prevention program in Lofa County, Liberia by the Liberia Animal Welfare & Conservation Society in partnership with Doggone Safe Canada, the dog bite incidence in Lofa County among the children was alarming, with community leaders authorizing the killing of community dogs as means of curtailing the rampant dog bite incidents. This method did not help to reduce the incidents among the children until 2011 when Doggone Safe started to empower LAWCS to educate the children about dog body language and bite prevention. Since then there has been drastic reduction in the number of dog bite incidents among children in communities visited by the program. From March to May 22, 2015, LAWCS` volunteers visited 17 schools in Voinjama and Qurdu Gbondi districts and educated the school children among dog body language and bite prevention. The program motivated the children to respect dogs, and not to force dogs into situations whereby they feel the need to retaliate and protect themselves. The children also learned to recognize what their family and other dogs can be telling them through their body language and how to react appropriately, allowing the dogs to live stress-free and comfortable lives. Below is the information on the number of children reached and inspired with the program.

  table of results LAWCS 2015   

The management of LAWCS wishes to extend her profound gratitude to the management of Doggone Safe for empowering us to improve the relationship between the children and their family dogs through the bite prevention program. We also want to extend thanks and appreciation to all the school authorities for working with us in implementing the program in your schools.

Anti-Pet Eating and Humane Education

Presently our program is attracting hundreds of children from every school. We use TV and sometimes projector to teach humane education including the dog bite prevention education using the Clicker Puppy training DVD.
During the program, we provide vegan meal to all the children attending the event. We deal with over 500 children at each program.

You Can Help Morris and LAWCS Continue Their Work

Please help Morris and the team at LAWCS to continue their work to help children. As little as $5 goes a long way in Liberia!




  DBP 7


   DBP 3  

  DBP 2

DBP 1   

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tip of the Day: Teach Kids to Invite the Dog to Come to Them

This is our simplest tip and one that is probably the most significant in terms of improving dog/child relations. Teach kids that they should invite the dog to come to them, and if the dog declines the invitation, then they leave the dog alone.

Dogs say yes, by coming over, being loose and waggy and staying around without restraint. Dogs say no by turning away, walking away, yawning, licking or flicking their tongue out, showing a half moon of white in their eye, doing a big shake off, or being tense and stiff.

Here is a fun video from dog/child relationship expert Madeline Gabriel that shows kids how to be a kid a dog feels safe with and shows parents how to teach kids how to invite a dog to interact.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tip of the Day: Get off Your Bike if a Dog Chases You

Making it Worse?

We are asked this question quite frequently: What should I do if a dog chases me or my kids while we are riding our bikes? Most adults assume that if they have good speed they can outride a dog. A cyclist in our area was badly injured when dog ran down a farm lane barking at him. He sped up to try to get away from the dog, lost control on the gravel shoulder and fell off his bike. The dog sniffed him and walked away.

Avoid a Chase

Kids on bikes should never assume that they can ride faster than a dog can run, because most likely they can't. If confronted by a dog while riding a bike, the best thing to do is to stop and if there is time get off the bike so that the bike is between you and the dog.

The main motivation for the dog is the chase and when there is nothing to chase the dog will lose interest. If the dog does catch a moving cyclist this could result in serious injuries both from the fall and from the dog, whose natural instinct is to bite and shake prey that it has caught. It is best to defuse the situation by removing the dog's motivation to chase.

Some people have been told that they should get off the bike, but keep moving so as to keep the bike between them and the dog. This movement will just keep the dog interested longer. It is best to stand still even if the dog circles around the bike to investigate and even if the dog is barking and acting aggressively.

A Note to Cyclists on Busy Trails

If you see a person walking a dog on a leash ahead of you, make some noise to warn the dog handler so that they can move over to give you room to pass. They will be more than happy to do this. If there is only a narrow passing area, please slow down, or even better, get off your bike and walk past (with your bike between you and the dog, just in case). If the dog handler looks like they are having trouble with the dog, or they have multiple dogs, you are advised to walk your bike past. Blasting past pedestrians with a few inches to spare is not cool (dog or no dog) and could result in a surprised dog pulling loose and chasing you. In some mixed use trails, there could be loose dogs, be ready to stop if the dog looks like it might give chase. You may be fast, but a large breed dog in peak condition is faster.

Here is a video that shows the wrong thing to do if a dog chases you while you are riding a bike. Notice that when the cyclist moves the bike to try to keep the dog on the other side of it, this just makes the dog more interested in him. As soon as he stops moving the dog loses interest.

Here is a video that shows the right thing to do. Notice how much less interested the dog is when the cyclist stands still, compared to the previous video, when he kept moving around.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tip of the Day: Dogs Don't Like Hugs and Kisses (What?!)

A different kind of love
One of the most important things you can teach your children is that dogs don't like hugs and kisses. This is a tough lesson, because many (if not most) dog owners simply do not believe it themselves.

Children learn early on that giving hugs to parents, siblings, and stuffed animals is a way to show love and affection. The desire to show affection extends naturally to the family dog. To a child, the family dog is just an animated stuffed animal.

Sadly, this desire to show affection to the family dog is a major cause of facial bites to children. Dogs may tolerate hugs from kids, but few actually enjoy this type of attention. If a dog does more than tolerate this inappropriate handling, it is only on the dog’s own terms—when the dog comes to the child for attention, and only if the child does not hug tightly or hang on too long. There is no dog that loves hugs from kids anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Teach children to pet with one hand and to wait for the dog to come to them for attention and then to leave the dog alone if he moves away or says "please leave me alone" with his body language.

There are lots of ways to love your dog that don't involve hugs and kisses. Read our article on How to Love Your Dog for lots of ways your kids can build a great relationship with the family dog.

Listen to the experts, including the dogs!

How do we know that dogs don't like hugs and kisses? In part it is because every dog behavior expert tells us so. For example, world renowned expert and author Patricia McConnell in her wonderful book "For the Love of a Dog" says that she has at least 50 photos of kids hugging dogs and in not one of them is the dog happy about it. We also know because dogs tell us and dogs don't tell lies.

If your dog is enjoying a hug he will do one or more of the following:
  • Ask for more if you stop
  • Lean into you
  • Relax and close his eyes
  • Pant and wag his tail with a loose body
If your dog is not enjoying a hug he will do one or more of the following:
  • Turn his head away from you
  • Lick your face repeatedly
  • Lick his lips or flick his tongue out
  • Yawn
  • Lick or chew at himself
  • Sneeze
  • Wriggle to get away
  • Hold his body tense
  • Shake off vigorously when you let go
  • Show a half of moon of white in his eye
  • Wag his tail stiffly

If you ever hear yourself saying, "my dog just loves the kids, they can do anything to him", then take a close look and see what the dog is really saying. In the vast majority of cases, the dog will be saying (at least some of the time), "I don't like this, please make it stop". You love your dog, so why would you want him to have to tolerate hugs when it makes him uncomfortable? You love your kids, so why not teach them this simple safety rule: pet dogs with one hand.

Prevention is the key

When the dog tells us and we don't listen, eventually he may come to the point that he just can't take it anymore and his only recourse is to use his teeth to say clearly "stop that". This is the equivalent of a person shouting "just stop it" or even giving someone a push to get them to stop being irritating. This would be a minor incident if the dog did this to another dog, but when the recipient is a child, the results can be devastating.

Be an advocate for your kids and your dog, intervene and allow only interactions that the dog truly does enjoy.

There is one safe way for kids to kiss their dog. Check out this terrific video from The Family Dog TV:

Learn More About Dog Body Language

Learn more about dog body language by taking our online course: Basic Dog Body Language, and also from the Doggone Crazy! Board Game, available in the Doggone Safe store.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tip of the Day: Learn to Tell the Tale from the Tail

Dogs Talk with Their Tails - But Can We Understand?

One of the biggest misconceptions that we hear about dog body language is that “ the dog must be happy, he is wagging his tail”. In actuality a wagging tail is one of least reliable indicators about how a dog is feeling, unless you know what to look for. It is also important to take into account the other body parts as well. A wagging tail does not always mean that a dog wants to be friends.

There are many different types of wag and there is only one type that indicates a safe dog for children to interact with. Let’s start with that one!

The Calm Wag

The calm wag is a loosely wagging tail, with the tail held below the level of the dog’s back. For breeds that naturally curl their tail over their backs, the tail will be held high, but the wag is loose. The whole dog may wag to some degree, but it is not a frantic type of wag. The calm wag, accompanied by a smiling panting face indicates a relaxed dog who may want to meet or interact with a child. If the dog stops panting and wagging, or stops panting and commences a stiffer type of wagging then this is a warning to back off. The dog has become uncomfortable with your approach. The best way to interact with the happy, panting and wagging dog is to invite him over to see you, rather than moving into his space. 

Watch this video to see the difference between a high, stiff wag (as discussed below) and a calm wag. Notice that the white dog holds his tail very high and stiff while he is meeting and sizing up the other dogs, but when he interacts with the child he holds his tail lower and wags loosely. This is an excellent demonstration of what we mean by loose versus stiff. The dog is loose with the child and stiff with the other dogs. His interaction with child is entirely appropriate and this is the type of wag we want to see in all dogs who interact with children. If you don’t see this, then intervene and redirect the dog and child to other activities.

The Propeller Wag

In the propeller wag, the whole tail goes all the way around like a propeller. This is usually reserved for greetings to special people that the dog is particularly happy to see. This dog wants to greet you and this is fine if you are adult. The level of excitement here may be too much for a child and the dog may jump, scratch or knock a small child over by mistake. It is best to wait for the dog to calm down before he is allowed to greet children.

The Whole Body Wag

Sometimes a dog is so happy and excited that the whole dog wags in a frenzy of activity. Again a dog this excited should not be allowed to interact with children until he calms down.

The High Tail

If a dog holds his tail high over his back, whether wagging stiffly or held still, this is a warning to back off. This dog is assessing the situation and is not likely to be welcoming of any invasion of his space. If your dog puts his tail up to you or your children, this could be a sign of impending trouble. He could be issuing a challenge (as seen in the photo) and may bite if further provoked. Find a behavior consultant who will use positive reinforcement-based training to help you make sure that your dog develops a more cooperative relationship with the family. Teach your children to Be a Tree right away if any dog puts his tail up to them, even if it is their own dog or a dog they know.

The Slow Wag

The slow wag, if accompanied by a generally stiff body is also a sign of danger. This dog is making a decision and he may decide that he does not want to meet you.

The Low Wag

Sometimes a dog will hold his tail very low, or between his legs and may even wag just the end of his tail. This dog is feeling very uncertain or even afraid and would prefer to be left alone.

Learn more with the online course: Basic Dog Body Language (CEUs from many different dog training and vet tech organizations). Use the discount code BBL10 to get $10 off the price of this $30 course.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tip of the Day: Supervise Kids and Dogs- Be Active Be Aware

Click to see a larger image, right click and "save as" to download

The degree of supervision required, depends on many factors. Babies, toddlers, and any children who do not follow instructions require hands on supervision if they are to interact with the dog. Such interaction should always be on the dog's terms without forcing the dog to submit. Any child that goes after a dog, pesters the dog, sits or lies on the dog, smothers the dog with hugs and kisses or is rough with the dog needs close supervision and to be removed from the dog (or the dog removed from them) when this behavior occurs (or preferably before it starts). Children that know to call the dog to them and to interact only with a dog that comes to them for attention, and who know how to interact respectfully with the dog, require less supervision the older they are.

Webinar for Parents of Toddlers

Coming up on Wed May 20, 2015, there is a live webinar with dog behavior consultant Jennifer Shryock. Jen has 4 kids and has gone through the toddler stage with several of her own dogs. She will share her expertise in this live session, with lots of practical, compassionate advice for parents. Things can change quickly with toddlers as they develop, so it is best to be proactive rather than waiting for a problem to develop.

Jen will be donating part of the proceeds from this webinar to Doggone Safe to help further spread the Be a Tree program for school children.

Click here for more info or to register.

More Tips and Information About Effective Supervision

For more information, view

Here is a video that discusses the 5 types of supervision and gives some great tips for ensuring harmony between dogs and toddlers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tip of the Day: Teach Kids to Be A Tree So a Dog Goes Away

Dogs are stimulated by movement and noise and children are known for their movement and noise! Still, it is possible to work toward and achieve positive and comfortable relationships between dogs and kids.

One of the most valuable skills that children can learn is to stand still and “Be a Tree” if a strange dog comes near them, or if any dog is bothering them or becoming too frisky (even their own dog or a friend's or relative's dog).

Here is how to Be a Tree:

  1. Stop
  2. Fold in your branches (hand folded in front)
  3. Watch your roots grow (look at your feet)
  4. Count your breaths in your head until help comes or the dog goes away
"Trees" are boring to the dog and the dog will just sniff and then go away. No matter what the dog does, just stand still, avoid eye contact (by looking at your feet) and stay quiet.

You may have heard of other versions of being a tree involving moving hands up under the chin or under the arm pits and/or looking at the sky. We have done experiments and have consulted with many experts and have concluded that the Doggone Safe way to Be a Tree is the safest and easiest for kids to actually do. For more information on the reasons for this please click here.

Here is a video that shows how this works.

And another one. Notice that as soon as the person stops moving the dog loses interest. Please note that this video is for illustration purposes to demonstrate how well being a tree works with a frisky dog (using a teenager and a well trained dog). This is NOT a safe game for a child to play with a dog. If your dog gets too frisky and overly aroused, the kids should Be a Tree and then you should intervene and redirect the dog to another activity where he is no longer around the children.

Practice, practice, practice

It is not enough just to tell your kids about this, they need to practice it in a low stress environment to have the best chance of being able to do it under real life conditions if a dog threatens them. One way to practice is to play the Doggone Crazy! board game. Another way is to play role playing games where everyone takes tuns pretending to be a dog and the others practice being trees when the dog comes near them. You can also practice this with a stuffed dog. If you have a puppy or a small dog, you may be able to play with the real dog. Every one moves around and when the dog comes up to them they assume the tree position. The adult says the dog's name before he gets to the child and gives the dog a treat (or better still, clicks and gives the dog a treat). This way the  dog is rewarded for keeping all his feet on the ground around the kids. He will soon learn that when the kids do the tree that no-one is going to move or play with him anymore and he will see this as a cue to stop chasing or trying to play.

With a larger dog or a very frisky dog, start with the dog on a leash. Approach one of the kids in the game, the child will be a tree and you will say the dog's name, ask him to sit and give him a treat. Repeat until the dog automatically looks at you and sits when he sees a kid being a tree. Keep things calm with the kids. It is not a good idea for them to run around and get the dog all riled up.

It Works!

Here are some testimonials from people who have found being a tree to work in a real life situation with their kids:
Jake jumped back (the dog followed barking) and Jake snapped into the Tree pose so fast I thought I'd seen him turn to stone. I couldn't believe he actually thought to do it - it had been over a year since we've had time to play Doggone Crazy. The dog immediately stopped barking, jumped back into his blankie and further trouble was thus averted. Beth Wheeler, Marblehead MA
One day my [4 year old] son was outside playing, those dogs were in their house, I was standing in our doorway watching Thomas play. Suddenly the back door to the house behind us opened and out flew the dogs. The male spotted Thomas immediately and charged him, clearing the fence easily, Thomas saw this and began to run for me. I yelled immediately for him to STOP and stand like a "tree". Thankfully Thomas did both, for the dog stopped, looked around and then headed back over the fence to his own yard. Another call went out to animal control, and a big hug to my son. Kerry McDonald, Pembroke ON
As an Animal Behaviourist who has testified in numerous court cases as a designated "expert" witness in the field of canine aggression in Ontario, I came accross some information relevant to Doggone Safe when reviewing material for a recent case. The parents of a young child credited this program with saving their [3 year old] daughter's life when she was confronted by a large, aggressive acting dog. According to them, had they not taught her the principles outlined in the 'Be a Tree' program, the results of their daughter's incident with this dog could have been disastrous. This account should tell you everything you need to know about the efficacy of Doggone Safe. Kerry Vinson, Animal Behaviour Consultant, Roseneath ON

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tip of the Day: Teach Your Children to Speak Dog

Dogs are giving us information all the time about how they are feeling and what they might do next. All kids, parents and dog owners need to know how to interpret dog body language and to pay attention to what the dog is feeling, so that there will be many fewer adverse interactions with dogs. Dogs do their best to warn before they growl or snap, but most people don't know what to look for. If the dog's signals are ignored for long enough, he may eventually get to the point where he feels he has to escalate to get unwanted attention to stop. People are the same, if enough annoyances build up, you might shout or snap at someone too. Here are the key do body language signals that everyone should know. Parents, if you see these signs, intervene and give both dogs and kids some space and something else to do. Your dog will be happier and your kids safer!

Do you love this poster? Get yours today from the Doggone Safe Store for only $10 each! We will add your own logo at no extra charge.

For more information about dog body language, take our online course: Basic Body Language. CE credits from many organizations.

Check out our Speak Dog slide show:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Be a Tree is Great for Business

Reprinted with permission from the SVMA News, May 2008 issue

By Dr. Bob Bellamy (former president, Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association)

For the past several years the veterinarians and veterinary technologists in our practice have been offering dog bite prevention (DBP) presentations to public schools, play ground groups, day cares, dog clubs, dog obedience classes, humane society meetings etc. The ultimate goal has been to prevent dog bites through public education. Presenters utilize a "teacher kit" from Doggone Safe - a visual, informative, interactive and entertaining presentation that requires a minimal amount of preparation and can be delivered effortlessly.

Dog bite prevention seminars have had an unexpected side effect. Without a doubt, DBP presentations have yielded more new clients than any initiative attempted by our office! In the the past two years new clients have increased by 30%!!!

Dog Bites are a serious public health risk. The incidence of  dog bites is not tracked in Canada, but American data suggest that last year in the United States:
  • 5 million people were bitten by dogs
  • 800,000 of them were severe enough to require medical attention
  • on average there are 12 fatal dog attacks per year, most involving children
Children are most at risk for dog bite:
  • 60% of bite victims are children under 10 years old
  • 50% of children will be bitten before they are 12 years of age
Published statistics indicate that dog bites represent the second most common injury to children under 10 years of age (sports injuries being number 1). Seventy percent of biting dogs are the family pet or belong to friends of the family.

Most experts agree that the majority of bites are preventable through public education. Veterinarians are in a key position to deliver this message and we feel our efforts have made a difference. "Doing the right thing has not only been good public relations, it has been highly profitable."

More About the Be a Tree Teacher Kit

The Be a Tree Teacher Kit is for...
  • schools/teachers who want to deliver a bite prevention program themselves
  • humane educators for in-house or community outreach use
  • obedience trainers who want to educate their clients about safety around dogs
  • dog industry professionals who want to offer bite prevention programming to local schools or community groups
  • Doggone Safe members who want to deliver the Be a Tree program on behalf of Doggone Safe (10% discount on 1 kit for Doggone Safe members - not applicable to sale price) - find out how to join Doggone Safe
Click here for more information or to buy a kit ($25 off from Mar-May 2015)

Monday, February 2, 2015

What Does Your Dog Really Want for Valentine's Day?

If we had to guess, we would say he wants your love. There are lots of ways to show that you love your dog:

View and share this video: Teach My Person How to Love Me

Train your dog the force-free way using positive reinforcement. Here's how that should look:

Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Love Your Dog - It's Not What You Think!

Think that your dog likes hugs and kisses? Well if he is like most dogs, then he does not enjoy this type of human affection. Children want to show love to dogs by giving hugs and kisses, because this how they show affection to people they love. Hugs are not a natural form of canine interaction to show affection. To show your dog that you love him, learn to give him the things that he really does like and teach your kids to do the same.

Most dog bites are to children, by the family dog or another dog known to the child. Hugs and kisses are a major cause of facial bites to children. Doggone Safe offers suggestions for safe ways to love your dog that the dog will appreciate.

Children (and adults too) often want to show love to dogs the way we show love to each other, through hugs and kisses. Dogs do not naturally understand this, or even enjoy it. Hugs and face-to-face contact can be very threatening to dogs. The dog may tolerate this for a while, but at some point may bite or snap to protect himself once he has exhausted all his means of more subtle warning. Some dogs do enjoy a hug from a special person, if it is on their terms and done with some extra scratching on the chest. Few, if any dogs enjoy hugs the way young children do this, which is to clasp around the neck and hang on. Parents, teach your children to avoid face-to-face contact with any dog (even their own dog) and to show love to the dog in ways other than hugging and kissing.

Doggone Safe offers the following suggestions for Valentine’s Day about how to love your dog in a way that the dog will appreciate.

Touch Your Dog
  • Invite your dog to come to you for attention. If your dog turns away or moves away, respect his wishes and leave him alone. Many dogs like to be near you, but not necessarily to be touched.
  • Scratch your dog on the side of the neck or on his chest.
  • Avoid hugs and kisses. People enjoy this, but most dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. They might tolerate it, but few actually enjoy it.
  • Invite your dog to sit with you while your read or watch TV. Let him lean on you or put his head on your lap on his terms.
  • Some dogs enjoy a scratch behind the ears. Most dogs don’t enjoy hands coming down on the top of their heads.
  • Pet your dog and then stop. If he tries to get you continue then you will know he likes it.

Play With Your Dog
  • Play games like fetch and hide and seek that do not involve chasing or rough play.
  • Take your dog for lots of walks.

Understand Your Dog
  • Learn to read dog body language so that you can understand what your dog is trying to tell you.
  • A happy dog pants and wags his tail loosely. He may wag all over.
  • An anxious dog might show a half moon of white in his eye or he may lick his lips or yawn. He may turn his head away or walk away. He wants to be left alone.
  • A dog that suddenly goes stiff and still is very dangerous and might be ready to bite.
  • A dog with his mouth closed and ears forward and/or with his tail held high is busy thinking about something and does not want to be bothered.

Reward Your Dog
  • Look for things your dog does right and give him a treat or praise, petting or play. Never hit or yell at your dog.
  • Give your dog a stuffed Kong or Chewber or other long lasting chew treat to enjoy while he lies on a mat or in a crate.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's Not Too Late! Teach Your Dog this One Important Thing Before the Holidays

Holiday get togethers are stressful for dogs, especially Grandma's dog who is used to a calm existence and a set routine. A houseful of guests with excited children can be too much even for the calmest dog. If you are a parent hosting a party, it is not easy to keep track of the dog every minute, while attending to guests, serving food and supervising children. If the stress gets too much for the dog and he can't escape the unwanted attentions of children, he may resort to growling or snapping to protect himself. A friendly family dog that bites a child at a family gathering is an all too common, and completely preventable situation.

One of Doggone Safe's holiday tips is:
Yes, you are doing your dog a favor by crate training him! Dogs like small spaces and they like to feel safe. A comfortable crate fits the bill perfectly. Having a dog that loves to be in his crate gives you peace of mind, especially during hectic times such as a holiday party or large family get together. The crate is NOT a punishment, but rather a sanctuary for the dog. He should have a long lasting and especially yummy chew treat to keep him occupied and happy and out of the fray, especially during high commotion activities such as guests coming and leaving and  the serving of food.

You should also exercise your dog and tire him out before any family gatherings. He will be content to chill out in his crate if he is not full of pent up energy.

Here's what it looks like when a dog loves to go into the crate:

Here is a video that gives some ideas from the Kong company about how to train this.

Here is another video showing how to crate train. Notice that both these videos show how to use positive reinforcement and food to teach the dog to love his crate. The crate is never a punishment and the dog is always rewarded with something great when he goes into the crate.

One of the secrets to having a dog that loves to go into the crate and is content to stay there, is to give him something extra special and long-lasting to chew on.

Get a Chewber!

Doggone Safe recommends the Chewber - a tough but flexible rubber disk that dogs love to chew. Toss it, play tug with it and feed your dog from it. This will be your dogs's favorite toy! Click here for more information, training tips and videos.

Get a Kong and Stuff It!

Doggone Safe recommends the Kong toys that can be stuffed with just about anything your dog loves and even frozen for longer lasting chew sessions. Prepare and freeze a few stuffed Kongs to have them handy to give your dog when he goes into the crate while you are entertaining guests. Click here for more information, training tips, videos and Kong stuffing recipes.

Get a Pet Tutor to do Some of the Training for You!

Here is a brilliant new product that applies the science of learning to a remote training system that reinforces desired behavior and ignores unwanted behavior. Don't confuse this with the other kind of remote training system in which the dog receives a shock (often, euphemistically called a "tap" or a "stim") when he barks or otherwise misbehaves. The Pet Tutor is the complete opposite and is based on positive reinforcement and not punishment. This will be a huge help in crate training. Get one of these to help you with the time consuming aspects of early crate training when you need a high rate of reinforcement and concentrated attention to the task. Then use it to help your dog stay content in the crate.

Here is a video that explains how this works

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family Gathering Safety Tips for Kids and Dogs

The holiday season is coming up and with it the inevitable spate of parties and family celebrations. These events are great fun for the people, but can be very stressful for dogs. Here are some tips to help keep both kids and dogs safe and happy during family gatherings

Holidays Are Stressful for Dogs

The holidays are especially stressful for dogs due to changes in routine and the comings and going of visitors. Many dog bites happen at this time of year.

When visiting a house with a dog, children should be taught not to approach the dog (even if the dog has been friendly on other occasions). If the dog comes to them they should stand still like a tree and let the dog sniff. Only if the the dog is wagging and panting and coming to them for attention, and parent and dog owners are supervising and have given permission, should a child touch the dog. Dog owners should gauge their dog’s reaction to visitors. If the dog is overly excited, barking or growling, cowering away, trying to hide or otherwise showing signs of anxiety or aggression, the dog should be kept separate from visiting children for the ENTIRE DURATION of the child’s visit. The dog should have its own place in a crate or another room with toys, a bone to chew on and its special bed or blanket so that it can be happy and comfortable and away from guests. Even dogs who seem happy with visitors should never be alone in the room with visiting children. No preschooler, toddler or baby should be allowed to be near your dog unless you personally also have your hands on the dog and can prevent face to face contact between child and dog and can prevent the child from hugging or otherwise bothering the dog.

Greeting People at the Door

Dogs should not be allowed to greet visitors at the door. This is for the safety of the dog and the visitors. Keep the dogs in separate room or crate until the visitors are settled and then allow the dog to say hello if appropriate. If you are not sure about your dog, then leave him confined or keep him on a leash. Make sure that the dog associates visitors with something good for the dog, such as special treats or a stuffed bone.

Not the Time to Train the Dog

If you do perceive a problem between your dog and visiting children - THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO WORK ON IT. It is not reasonable to use visiting children to help train your dog. Take preventative measures to ensure that your dog does not have the opportunity to bite and once the holiday season is over seek the help of a dog behavior specialist who uses positive reinforcement methods to solve the dog's problem.

Family Gatherings

Family gatherings at a relative’s house are the source of fond memories for many. The relative’s dog may not enjoy these events as much as the rest of the family. Noise, confusion and changes in routine are stressful for dogs. Even a normally calm and docile pet may become agitated enough to bite under the extreme circumstances of a boisterous family celebration. Supervision may be lax if each adult thinks that another is watching the children. Children are the most likely victims of dog bites in this situation. Doggone Safe offers the following tips:

  • Put the dog in his crate with a bone or favorite chew toy, at least during the most hectic times – guests arriving and leaving as well as dinner preparation and serving.
  • Assign one adult to be in charge of the dog, to watch for signs of stress and protect from unwanted attention from children.
  • Signs of stress include: The dog yawns or licks his chops.The dog shows the white part of his eye in a half moon shape.
  • If the dog shows any of these signs, then he is worried and wants to be left alone. Put the dog in his crate or in a room away from the guests with a favorite chew toy or bone. 
  • If the dog licks his chops, yawns or shows the half moon eye when a child approaches or is petting him, intervene immediately and ensure that the child cannot access the dog. 
  • Do not allow visiting children to hug the dog. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. Even if the dog tolerates this under normal circumstances he may not tolerate this from strangers or in a high stress situation with lots of noise and people. 
  • Other signs that the dog does not welcome attention from children (or adult) guests include the following:

  • The dog turns his head away, walks away or tries to hide under furniture.
  • The dog freezes and becomes very still, with his mouth closed. He may be staring intensely at the person who is bothering him and may growl. This dog is a few seconds away from a bite.
  • The dog growls or raises the fur along his back.

  • Assign one adult to supervise each baby or toddler with no other tasks expected. 
  • If you have multiple dogs, consider kenneling them, crating them or keeping them in another room during large gatherings. 
  • Supervise at all times.

Download our handout with a summary of tips for parents and dog owners


Visit our article library for some articles about keeping kids and dogs safe during the holidays. Scroll through the list looking for those articles marked with a candy cane. Download the Doggone Safe Holiday Press Release with more tips


Doggone Safe Members: Download the Doggone Safe Holiday Press Release that you can edit to send to local newspaper, radio and TV media to promote your business and disseminate our safety messages. Join Doggone Safe.