Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Be a Tree Earns Top Ranking

Doggone Safe US President Kerry Potter-Kotecki offered the Be a Tree program at the Robert Wood Johnson Community Hosptial Safe Kids Fair in October 2008. Teachers bring their students to this event to learn about all aspects of personal safety. We just received the teacher rankings from this event and are thrilled to learn that the Doggone Safe program received the highest rankings among the various programs offered. The ranking was 3.8/4. The statements the teachers were asked to give a score from 1-4 were as follows:
Information is relevant for my students.
Information is age-appropriate
Information is presented in an understandable & clear way
My students learned new information today

Family Dog Takes Baby from Crib

A tragic story was reported from Kentucky, where the family dog took a 4-day old baby from his bassinet and carried him 200 yards to the woods behind the house. The baby, Alexander James (AJ), suffered multiple injuries. A week later AJ is improving but is still in hospital in serious condition.

Read the first new report
Update 1 week later

The dog has not shown any aggressive tendencies according to the family. If the dog had intended to hurt the baby, he would have been killed says the dog owner and father of the baby. Indeed it is unlikely that the dog had any violent intent and was probably carrying the baby for the purpose of moving him. Dogs do sometimes move their puppies from place to place and there have been other instances reported of dogs carrying newborn babies.

A newborn baby is something very strange and confusing for the family dog. The smells and sounds that a baby makes can be intriguing or disturbing to the dog. Baby sounds are similar to those made by animals in distress. This could trigger an instinct to move the baby to a "safer" place or could trigger a predatory instinct. Either way, the outcome would not be good for the baby.

This very sad situation for AJ's family serves as a reminder that the family dog must have no unsupervised access to the baby. Closing the baby's door is the best way to ensure that the dog cannot access the baby.

Our hearts go out to AJ and his family as we hope for his full and rapid recovery.

Doggone Safe recommends the Dogs and Storks program for expectant parents who want to prepare the dog for the arrival of the new baby.

Read an article with tips for expectant parents

Feature Article: Play Date Checklist

Play Date Checklist
By Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin

When a child wants to go to at a friend's house, a responsible parent asks some
basic questions. For example: will a parent be home? Does the family have a pool? Is the yard fenced? Rarely does it occur to a parent to ask if the family has a dog and if so, what steps will be taken to ensure that there are no incidents.

Doggone Safe recommends that parents visit the home of the family that their child wants to visit to meet the parents and the dog. We have created a check list of situations to help parents judge whether it seems safe to leave their child at a home with a dog. We encourage trainers to copy this list and hand it out.

Red Light Criteria (do not leave your child to play at this house):
  • Dog is chained or tied up or there is evidence that dog is kept tied up.
  • Dog seems uncared for; house smells like urine or feces.
  • Dog comes to the door barking and growling and continues even after owner answers the door.
  • Owner is rough with the dog, yelling, hitting or grabbing it by the collar to get it to comply.
  • Dog seems afraid of owner or ignores the owner's attempts to control it.
  • Dog is a kept as a guard dog.
Yellow Light Criteria (leave your child only if the dog will be crated or locked away the entire time):
  • Dog comes to the door barking and/or growling, but stops when told to do so and seems friendly when the owner answers the door.
  • Dog insists on getting between you and the owner’s child.
  • Dog is overly excited and races about or jumps all over you and your child.
  • Your child is afraid of the dog.
  • Dog holds his tail up in the air and wags it slowly or not at all.
  • Dog wags his tail low to ground or between his legs.
  • Dog seems fearful and hides, retreats from you or barks at you.
  • There are multiple dogs.
Green Light Criteria (leave your child if supervision will be adequate):
  • Dog is on a loose leash, in a crate or in a down stay when the owner answers the door.
  • Dog greets you in a calm and friendly manner with wagging tail when the owner gives permission.
  • Dog obeys the owner and the owner rewards this.
  • The dog owner agrees to supervise all interactions with the dog.
The Rules for Other People’s Dogs
  • No hugs and kisses.
  • Don’t take anything from the dog, or approach him while he is eating, chewing something or resting.
  • Interact with the dog only if the parent is present.
  • Be a Tree and stand still if the dog is too frisky, seems threatening or otherwise causes concern.
  • Call home if you are worried.
Click here to download this article

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Welcome Baby!

We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the Doggone Safe family. Doggone Safe US Vice President Jennifer Shryock introduced her new baby daughter on her blog yesterday. The new addition is healthy and happy and joins three older children and four dogs as part of the family. We look forward to updates and wisdom from Jen as she shares her experiences.

Check out Jen's blog and website for lots of tips and information about preparing the dog for the new baby.

Dogs and Storks blog

Family Paws website

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be a Tree Presentation Videos

We have posted two new videos to the Doggone Safe Facebook group. These show excerpts from a Be a Tree presentation given by program co-creator Teresa Lewin.

The game activities that follow the lesson part of the presentation:

The "tools recap" that summarizes the lesson:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Doggone Safe at Puppy Pawlooza

Two Doggone Safe members will be giving presentations and providing educational opportunities at Puppy Pawlooza in London, Ontario on Saturday August 22. This is London's biggest dog festival.

Melissa Millett of In Dogs We Trust will be giving a Be a Tree presentation at 11:30 and a tricks training class at 2:00.

Sharlene Elsie of Caninelife Training and Consulting will give a Dogs & Storks presentation at 4:30.

Be sure to stop in at their booths to say hi if you are going to this event!

Summer Library Programs in Whitby and Oshawa

Yamei Ross of Canine SOS has lined up several library programs in her local community.

Thursday, July 9th, Whitby Public Library 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 4th, Whitby Public Library 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 20th, Jess Hahn Public Library, Oshawa, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, September 27th, McLaughin Public Library, Oshawa, 2:00 p.m.

Dog Bite Prevention Presentation at Animal Welfare Conference

Dr. Sally Cleland will make a presentation at the 5th Annual Animal Welfare Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sept 26, 2009. What does dog bite prevention have to do with animal welfare you might wonder? The biggest reason for the surrender of dogs to shelters is behaviour problems and biting is a serious behaviour problem! Any initiative that helps prevent dog bites is good for dogs.

Click here for more information or to register for the conference

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Case File: Be a Tree Works With Pit Bulls Too

This month's case file was kindly provided by Kerry McDonald of Pembroke ON (previously published in the Jan 2005 issue of the Doggone Safe newsletter)

When my son Thomas was 4, there lived behind us two Amstaff/Pit Bull type dogs. These dogs were owned by irresponsible people. Despite active interventions by the local animal control, and fines, these people continually left their dogs unrestrained and unsupervised in their unfenced yard. The male frequently jumped the fence at the back of our yard if we had our dogs out or if any of us were out. Our child was never out in the yard unsupervised due to the fact of his age, and the dogs behind us. Normally, in the summer the dogs were friendly enough, but we found out that the male was afraid of people bundled up for the winter, and would charge you, growling. One day my 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.

A possible tragedy was averted here and we can learn a lot from Kerry's experience. Kerry was right there supervising, not just watching from the window. She has also practiced the tree with Thomas and had the type of relationship with her son whereby he trusted her and followed her directions. Kerry's diligence, good parenting skills and knowledge of dog behavior paid off in a huge way that day and all parents of young children can learn from her example. There is a persistent myth that some breeds of dog will attack no matter what. In fact, standing still is the best thing to do regardless of the situation or the type of dog involved.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Be a Tree Feedback

We are always thrilled to get feedback from kids, teachers and presenters about Be a Tree presentations. Here are some recent comments sent in by presenters:

From Maureen McMorrow of Muttz N'Mo Petventures Inc (serving Cochrane, Calgary, Airdrie, Olds and surrounding area in Alberta, Canada):
The presentation went really well. The teacher asked to book for next year again, so I was really pleased. The kids were very excited. I ran into the teacher at soccer a few days later and she mentioned that she even got really good feedback from parents because the kids came home and shared everything they learned! YAY!
From Tonji Stewart, Doggone Safe Eastern Canada co-ordinator of Canine Company Clicker Training and Consulting of Newfoundland, Canada:

I did the St. John`s Vet Hospital presentation yesterday. It went really well. Fifty one students, grade two.

Afterwards I had the nicest compliment. A teacher came up to me and told me I was a dynamic teacher! I can`t tell you how good that made me feel.

I have a thank you note from the teachers stating...

"Thank you for the great presentation on Dog Safety. The students and teachers learned a lot about dogs and how to behave around them". Regina Wicks and Brenda Blackmore

Photo: "Raven" by Tonji Stewart

Clarkstown Town Clerk Serious About Safe, Dog Friendly Communities

This article appeared in the June Newsletter from Clarkstown NY Town Clerk, David Carlucci.

Clarkstown Town Clerk David Carlucci recently sponsored a seminar on dog bite prevention, in honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog bites are one of the nation's most commonly reported public health problems, despite being largely preventable. Alarmingly, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, according to the CDC. Therefore, as the licensing authority for issuing dog licenses, Carlucci feels a responsibility about taking action in educating residents on this important safety issue.

In order to raise awareness about dog safety in our community, Clarkstown Town Clerk David Carlucci, invited Kerry Potter-Kotecki of Doggone Safe, a not for profit organization, to provide an informative seminar for residents. The seminar provided empowering information to promote healthy, safe, dog friendly communities! Please visit or call Clarkstown Town Clerk David Carlucci at 845-639-2010 for more information or questions.

Be a Tree in the Library

Summer can be a slow time for Be a Tree presenters, since most people are doing presentations in school classrooms. Doggone Safe US President Kerry Potter-Kotecki, has the perfect solution! Most community libraries have summer programs for children and they are happy to have short and interesting presentations from volunteers. The Be a Tree presentation is a perfect companion to a story time reading of a doggie book.

Here is the link Kerry shared with us about her library session. Contact your local library if you are a Be a Tree presenter looking for a great way to volunteer this summer.

Be a Tree for First Nations

Here is a note we received from Doggone Safe member and Be a Tree presenter, Melissa Millett of In Dogs We Trust motivational dog training.

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that today I had an amazing day giving the Be A Tree Presentation to Sk through to grade 8 all day!

We were at a school at the Kettle Point first nations reserve all day giving the presentations for animal awareness day. This is an excellent place for the presentation as there are many stray/feral dogs and tied dogs out there. In fact we saw quite a few just running loose while we were there.

It was really nice to have the presentation that was interactive and geared towards children. The kids really enjoyed it, as well as the teachers.

Thanks for providing the be a tree, it helped me get the information across in a fun and interactive way that was child friendly!
First Nations communities often have situations with dogs running loose and dogs tied up, as Melissa notes. We are always pleased to hear that our members are helping to educate people in these high risk conditions.