Sunday, February 27, 2011

Praise for Be a Tree Presenters

I was looking through our old newsletters and found these wonderful letters written about some of our Be a Tree presenters. These were originally published in our newsletter in Apr 2007.

Tonji at Be a Tree presentation in Newfoundland

"Just wanted to touch base with you about a presentation we had at the school by Tonji Stewart (of Holyrood, Newfoundland) called "Doggone Safe". The presentation informed our Grade Two and Three students on how they should act around dogs. It told them the signs to look for when approached by a dog and gave the steps that they should follow in dealing with dogs. I thought the presentation was excellent and Tonji did a great job of keeping it interactive and interesting. I strongly recommend this presentation to other schools. Just a thought. As I said, our teachers and students felt they learned a lot."

Robin McGrath; Principal - Holy Cross School

"Sandi Wright (of Hinton, Alberta) did a presentation for our four playschool classes on dog safety. This presentation was very well organized and very informative. She had wonderful pictures to keep our little three and four year olds very attentive. Sandi also had a stuffed dog for the children to practice safely meeting a dog. I would highly recommend Sandi to others for this wonderful presentation."

Alma O'Rourke; Children's Creative Playschool

Comments about Kerry Potter-Kotecki's presentation...

"I personally thought that you were wonderful!!! The kids were totally into everything that you had to say. You spoke to them in a nice, calm and sweet voice that was not at all frightful. You had all of the kids involved and took the time to answer their questions. They especially loved the dog that your brought. Giving them materials to take home reinforced the program that you did in school because the parents then were able to question the children about what they learned.

The only thing that I would have done differently was having the kids sit more in a semi circle around you instead of in a straight line. That was my fault because I asked them to sit on the red line on the floor in the gym. I think if they were a little closer to you the would be able to not get distracted from being too far on the end of the line. So what you said, did and explained to all those kindergarten, second and fourth grade girls was very informative and I honestly think they all got it.

This program is a wonderful thing."

Patti, Girl Scout Leader

"She [Jan Kay of Kindersley, Saskatchewan] gave them a lot of practical strategies to use when dealing with or being confronted by a dog. It's a really good reminder for them not to assume our friends or neighbor's or even our own dog is going to be in a good mood or friendly. When I went back to the class they talked non-stop about what they learned."

Kim Edgerton; Grade 3 Teacher, Elizabeth School

Friday, February 25, 2011

Be a Tree in the School for Lifelong Learning

We just wanted to share this letter we received from Felicia Monteforte, who tells how she is using the Be a Tree program with mentally challenged children:

Myself and a friend who is a special education teacher for The School of Lifelong Learning, (a school for mentally challenged children up to age 19) here in our town, have presented the Doggone Safe program to the Principal and we will be giving presentations during the month of May in conjunction with the International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge. We'll be giving 2 presentations twice a week to all age levels. In fact they are trying to get the Be a Tree program as part of the school's curriculum. 

We are also hoping to get the higher functioning children in a work environment with animals, i.e., shelters, groomers, etc, once they've completed the Doggone Safe Be a Tree program.

Thanks for all the work you guys do!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Study Shows that Children Do Not Know How to Read Dog Body Language

Thanks to our good friend Dr. Stanley Coren for bringing this important study to our attention

Chlopčíková, M and Mojžíšová,A. 2010. Risk Factors in the relationship between children and dogs. Journal of Nursing, Social Studies and Public Health. 1(102–109).


In 2008, a pilot study trying to find the potential causes of conflicts in the children × dog relationship was realized. This pilot study was triggered by the increasing amount of cases of dog attacks in society, especially
dog attacks on the youngest generation (children). The collection of data which monitored awareness about a responsible approach and safe contact with dogs among primary school children (aged 8–12) was conducted from November 2007 to March 2008. The main aim of the research was to map children’s knowledge of dog’s communication signals, the perception of a child’s own authority in the relationship with a dog and the frequency of individual risk activities in their mutual contact. The research study has revealed alarming deficiencies, especially in the knowledge of communication signals and canine body language. The awareness of signs of the two most hazardous communication signals (threat and attack) was very poor.

Some Key Risk Factors Identified in this Study

  • Children considering themselves to be the highest authority over the dog
  • Children walking the dog without adult supervision
  • Ignorance of dog body language signals - considered by the authors to be the main bite risk factor
The overall bite incidence in this study was 51% (of 200 children age 8-12). This is consistent with finding from our own survey of children in Be a Tree sessions that 54% (of 869 children age 5-9) has been bitten.

The results of this study provide strong support for the Doggone Safe approach of teaching children to read dog body language to help reduce the dog bite risk.

Read the full article

Posted with permission from the publisher

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Doggone Safe Coordinator a Finalist in Video Competition

Congratulations to Tonji Stewart, Doggone Safe Coordinator for Canada East, for being chosen as a finalist in the Canis Film Festival video competition! This competition showcases the skills of top clicker trainers who use positive-reinforcement to achieve amazing training results. Doggone Safe recommends clicker training as a safe and effective way to train dog.

Here is the link to the Canis Film Festival finalists. Enjoy all these terrific videos and it you want you can vote for your favourite:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How to Love Your Dog - Valentine's Day Tips

Children want to show love to dogs by giving hugs and kisses, but many dogs don’t like this. 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 should teach their 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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Upcoming Events

Here is a list of upcoming events that might interest you. These are events in which Doggone Safe members are participating in some way. If you are a Doggone Safe member you may submit an event that qualifies under our submission guidelines. Here is a link to our events page:

Doggone Safe cofounder Teresa Lewin will be at the Pet Funfest in Downsview ON on Feb 12-13 teaching kids and families about how to be safe around dogs and how to read dog body language. Come and meet Teresa and have fun learning to be a dog detective with the Be a Tree program.

Doggone Safe cofounder Joan Orr will be at Clicker Expo in Chicago on May 18-20.

Of particular interest to humane educators will be the APHE annual conference. This is the only conference we know of with a theme dedicated to humane education. You might also like to consider joining the APHE.

Event: Pet Funfest
Date: Feb 12-13
Location: Downsview park, Downsview ON

Description: Come to shop, come to play, come to learn about pet adoption and perhaps meet your next pet. Over 70 vendors and animal welfare groups all indoors with a 2,400 sq ft off leash dog play area.

Event: Understanding and Solving Canine Behaviour Problems - Presented by Durham College
Date: Feb 23
Location: Durham College ON, Oshawa Campus

Description: Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to join an expert and develop an understanding of how both genetics and the learning process influence the appearance of  behaviour problems in dogs. Methods of solving common issues such as aggression and separation anxiety will be examined using audio-visual aids and case studies.

Link: Durham college online course registration
Event: Association of Professional Humane Educators Annual Conference
Date: Feb 24-25
Location: Fort Myers FL

Description: Join APHE for two great days packed with amazing presentations and professional networking opportunities.This is the national conference for humane educators.

Link: APHE conference registration and info
Event: Clicker Expo
Date: Mar 18-20
Location: Chicago IL

Description: Unparalleled interaction between you and our top  teachers sets ClickerExpo apart. Fifty insightful sessions, hands-on Learning Labs, lunchtime roundtable discussions, and special dinnertime events give you the most opportunities to learn from the best.

Link: Clicker Expo registration and information
Event: Exploring the Dog's Mind - Professional Animal Behavior Associates
Date: May 13-15
Location: University of Guelph, Guelph ON

Description: For twenty-one years PABA has given annual seminars on canine behavior and learning. It has always been our goal to bring to you accredited speakers providing statistically accurate cutting edge information. Each year we attempt to equal or surpass the quality of previous years. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we are disappointed. This year we are bursting with anticipation!

Dr. Andrew Luescher
Dr. Jaak Panksepp
Karen Pryor
Dr. Alexandra Horrowitz
Dr. Meghan Herron
Kathy Sdao
Pat Miller

Our speakers WORLDLY - AWESOME - DAZZLING – FORMIDABLE Don’t miss them!


Doggone Safe Wins Web Health Award!

Doggone Safe received an award of merit in the Community Organization category of the Web Health Awards for its website at 

From the Web Health Award press release:

The Health Information Resource Center announced the winners of its 2010 Web Health AwardsSM — which recognizes high-quality digital health information

The competition featured 15 entry categories, including blog, e-newsletter, interactive content, mobile application, social network, video, website, and more. A panel of 36 judges selected gold, silver, bronze, and merit winners from among nearly 500 entries.

“This year we added several new categories, including mobile application, which promises to be an area of exciting and rapid growth in the world of digital health information,” says Chris Behrend, Program Manager. “In fact, 8 of the 11 mobile applications entered this year were winners. This year’s higher range of scores is
indicative of the overall improvement in digital health information over the years.” Some of the Gold winners included Blausen Medical Communications, Inc. for “Blausen Human Atlas HD iPad App” in the mobile application category; Johns Hopkins Medicine for “Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Residency Program” in the webcast category; Ketchum for “Clorox Bleach: Just the Facts, Mom” in the website category; Mayo Clinic Health Solutions for “Mayo Clinic EmbodyHealth portal” in the website category; and United Health Group for “America’s Health Rankings” in the website category. A complete list of categories along with a list of winners can be found on the official awards program website:

The Health Information Resource CenterSM (HIRC) is a national information clearinghouse for professionals in consumer health fields. For 17 years, the HIRC has organized the National Health Information Awards (, which annually recognizes the nation’s best consumer health information. The Web Health AwardsSM, now in its 12th year, is a companion awards recognition to the National Health Information Awards, and it recognizes web-based, online and digital health information programs, for both
consumers and professionals.