Friday, August 31, 2012

Want the Truth? Ask your Dog!

Your dog loves it when you pet him, right? He loves the kids to pet and hug him too? Well maybe he does and maybe he doesn't. Maybe he likes some sorts of attention at some times and not at others. We have posted many times in our blog and on our Facebook page that dogs don't like hugs and kisses, especially from children. This has generated irate comments and even hate mail from people who are offended at the notion that dogs do not always just naturally love kids or love attention from their people.

If you want to know the truth about this from your dog's point of view, then ask him! Here is a great video that shows the difference between a dog who says "no" to petting and dog that says "yes". A dog that consistently says "no" and is ignored and forced to tolerate unwanted attention may eventually get to the point of growling or biting. A dog that invites attention and enjoys it is much less likely to bite.

Visit the Doggone Safe website to learn more about the signs that dogs give when they are uncomfortable.

Learn more  about dog body language with our online course, Basic Dog Body Language (qualifies for CEUs from major dog training certification organizations)

Be sure to visit the blog by Eileen, the author of the video for more insights!

Thanks to Jennifer Shryock of Family Paw Parent Education for bringing this video to our attention.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How the Veterinary Community Can Help Prevent Dog Bites

The coroner’s jury inquest into the 1998 mauling death of 8-year old Ontario resident Courtney Trempe produced a list of recommendations including some relating to the education of the public about safety around dogs and suggesting a role for the veterinary community. According the Canada Safety Council and the Health Canada more than 400,000 people are bitten by dogs each year, most of them children and most of them by the family pet or other familiar dog. Half of all children will be bitten by a dog by the time they are twelve. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are well positioned to play a leading role in educating dog owners and the community about how to prevent dog bites.

On-Line Learning

Doggone Safe is a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education and it offers a number of resources to help others in this educational effort. One of these resources is an on-line course that teaches about canine body language. This course is beneficial in the following ways to veterinary technologists and other staff that handle dogs:

·     Knowing the subtle signs that indicate a dog is feeling anxious may prevent technologists and other staff from being bitten.
·     The course will give technologists ideas about how to educate clients about dog body language and how to know when their dog may be getting to the point of biting. This may save a child in particular from a bite.
·     Knowing the subtle signs that indicate a dog is feeling anxious will help staff know when to reduce or change their intervention and when to try to calm the animal before proceeding. This could result in a better outcome for the patient and reduced stress for patient, client and technologist.

The course goes from nose to tail, discussing all the body parts and how a dog uses them to communicate. It covers communication signals ranging from the subtle “half moon eye” to the very obvious “propeller tail wag” using many photos and videos to illustrate.

"I have reviewed the on-line Doggone Safe Basic Body Language course and found it both informative and easy to use.  The course would be appropriate for veterinarians, technicians and lay staff that are interested in learning more about fearful dog cues, and appropriate ways to approach unknown dogs." Teresa Hershey, DVM (former president, Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association) 

There is a free demo of the course and a link to the registration page at

Educating Children

Doggone Safe administers the Be a Tree dog bite prevention program that teaches children how to read dog body language and act safely around dogs. More than 700,000 children around the world have attended a Be a Tree session. The program is supported by the Be a Tree teacher kit, which contains everything required to deliver the presentation.

The key messages of the Be a Tree program are:

  • Be a Tree (stand still, fold in your branches, watch your roots grow and count to the highest number you know over and over in your head until help comes or the dog goes away) if a strange dog comes near, or any dog is acting too frisky or is bothering you.
  • Dogs communicate with body language and we can tell if they are happy and want to meet or interact with us, or they are feeling anxious and want to be left alone.
  • Always ask permission from your parent and the dog owner if you want to pet a dog.
  • Meet and pet a dog properly. Pet only happy dogs.
  • Respect a dog’s toys, resting place and bones.
  • Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses.
  • Don’t be afraid of dogs.
"Dog behavior is a field with more than its share of junk information, to the great detriment of dogs, their owners and the public at large. What an inspiration to see Doggone Safe do exactly the opposite: disseminate outstanding information. And, not only that, in an accessible manner to that group all of us want better to protect, children. Bravo!"
Jean Donaldson
Founder and Director
The Academy for Dog Trainers

Veterinary Community Support for Be a Tree in Canada

The Be a Tree program is supported by the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, the Saskatchewan Association of Veterinary Technologists, other provincial and the national veterinary technician/technologist associations. Dr. Bob Bellamy, former president of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association described the Be a Tree program as “a visual, informative, interactive and entertaining presentation that requires a minimal amount of preparation and can be delivered effortlessly” (SVMA News, August, 2007). “The Be a Tree program provides a great topic and loads of materials, making the program an ideal community outreach program which can easily be delivered by veterinarians or their staff” said Nadia Vercillo, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association Manager of Communications and Public Relations (OVMA Focus, May 2008).

Promote Your Practice

Doggone Safe offers supplementary materials to reinforce its safety messages and promote community education. These in include a postcards, magnets, stickers, coloring books, story books and classroom posters. These materials can be branded with your logo to remind parents and children of the safety messages.

Visits to schools, boy/girl scout groups, church and other groups provide a great way to gain recognition for your practice in the community. Dr. Bob Bellamy, former president of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association said, "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%!!!". Read Dr Bellamy's article from the SVMA News.

Other Resources

The Doggone Safe website has lots of information, articles and downloads available and encourages the distribution of these. Use or copy any of the information or articles found at the Doggone Safe website as handouts, in newsletters or at websites, with credit given to the source.

Doggone Safe also maintains a website dedicated solely to the Be a Tree program. This is a good place to send teachers or parents who want to know more about the program (

More Information

For more information about Doggone Safe, the on-line body language course or to order a Be a Tree teacher kit or other products please visit For more information about the Be a Tree program please visit

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Praise for Doggone Safe and the Be a Tree Program

We'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has posted a review for us on the Great Non-Profits review site! There are lots of terrific reviews and we appreciate and read each and every one of them.

If you would like to add your own review we would love to hear about your experience with the Be a Tree program or any of our other resources.

Click here to write a review (we love it when you include your real name, but you don't have to)

Here are a few examples:
Great safety tips on how to get kids to behave properly around dogs. As a professional dog trainer, I really see the need for good safety programs for kids, and Doggone Safe is one of the best! I frequently give the Be A Tree presentation and everyone loves it. While a serious topic, the program has been developed to be entertaining, interactive and carefully repetitive to help kids thoroughly retain the information. The visuals are excellent and the "tools" for learning are fun. Most adults attending learn right along with the kids. Judy Kheen
I am a Pediatric Emergency Room Nurse, and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Did you know that ER's across the United States see and average of 1000 dog bites a day! Dog bites have been too long viewed as environmental accidents that cannot be prevented. Thanks to Doggone Safe, we are all learning more, and now we know how we can help to prevent these injuries. Kay Thompson RN
I have provided citizens in our community with canine councilling for over 25 years. Part of our educational plan for our shelter is to reduce the number of owner released animals coming through our doors. Help clients and animals through the adjustment periods of a new relationship. Provide knowledge to help dispel fear, asin our experience as animal control or the city, shows that the majority of dog bites which happen in our community are the result of poor education of the public and fear induced responses by the dogs. Doggone Safes Be A Tree Program incorporates all of the tools needed to make real changes in public perception and we have seen a significant decrease in dog bites toward young children since we have been using the Be A Tree programs in local schools. Be A Tree is the absolute best there is to evoke change.  Robert Metzler, President, Gloucester SPCA
We have incorporated the resources from the Be A Tree Kit into our Bright Puppy lessons at Sit Happens! Companion Dog Training in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Our students are loving it! Thank you Doggone Safe! Jill Dextrase
I am a physician, specializing in Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, who was additionally nearly mauled to death by a German Shepard nearly 35 years ago. I happened upon Doggone safe and the support group several years ago, and have remained an active member ever since that time. The organization has not only benefited me, but I have observed over the years of participation the help and healing that it has brought to others who have survived dog attacks. The educational aspects of Doggone Safe additionally provides the members and general public a multitude of ways to keep themselves and children as well as their animals safe from further dog attacks, which for humans, require 5 million ER and operations per year and up to 30 deaths annually, per CDC report (2008). Shell King MD
I'm a professional dog trainer/behaviour therapist and I have used Doggone Safe material for years to educate my clients. I just love their programs! From the Doggone Crazy Board game, Be A Tree Programs to all their bite prevention and safety programs; each have been an invaluable tool. Clients have always found all the material not only informative but fun and easy to understand. Joan and Theresa have done an amazing job with these programs and have always been helpful and supportive in sharing their tools. Keep up the good work & thanks for all that you do :) Sylvia Gottshalk, Delightful Dogs
I am a Certified Humane Education Specialist and I use Doggone Safe Be a Tree program for everything from preschool to adult. I especially like the beautiful photos. They are clear in being able to read the dog's feelings. I have used this presentation to thousands of people over the years. Even adults learn from these presentations. Our dog training classes have also used this outstanding resource. Their Doggone Crazy game is a huge hit for our camps. I have even taken the flash cards from the game to make Trivial Pawsuit Games for larger crouds. We have also used their article models to do press releases during some key holiday times. Great stuff and a wonderful resource. Thank you so much for providing such professional materials to those of us in need.

World Rabies Day - Sept 28, 2012

World Rabies Day is on September 28, 2011. Partners around the world are holding events and engaging in public education campaigns to help eliminate this completely preventable disease. Key campaign messages include: Vaccinate your companion animals and stay away from stray animals and wild animals.

Despite being 100% preventable, it is estimated that 55,000 people die worldwide from rabies each year, approximately one person every ten minutes.  The World Rabies Day initiative is a global rabies awareness campaign being spearheaded by the UK charity Alliance for Rabies Control and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

World Rabies Day Initiative

The World Rabies Day initiative also raises money towards local rabies prevention and control programs, with eight projects funded since 2008.  “Through the World Rabies Day campaign we continue to engage all the major stakeholders associated with rabies to take action”, says Costa.  “We invite everyone to join the team that is Making Rabies History!”  

The cornerstones of rabies prevention are vaccination of companion animals and avoiding contact with potentially infected wild animals.

Visit for free resources and information.

World Rabies Day Webinar

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control, in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pleased to announce the 3rd Annual World Rabies Day Webinar to be held September 20-21, 2012. The Webinar brings together noted leaders in rabies research, One-Health advocates, professionals, students and World Rabies Day event planners in real-time to discuss the important public health issue of rabies while providing a forum for dialogue within and across disciplines.
The two day event will focus on canine rabies elimination; human rabies surveillance, prevention and intervention; wildlife rabies control; information and education campaigns and building sustainable programs. Day 1 (Sept 20) of the Webinar will concentrate on presentations from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Day 2 (Sept 21) will spotlight talks from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean Regions.

There is no cost to attend the Webinars but you must register in advance.

Free Resources from Doggone Safe

Doggone Safe will join the list of international partners who are rallied towards Working Together to Make Rabies History!  “Doggone Safe is proud to be a World Rabies Day partner and we encourage all our members to get involved with Word Rabies Day events in their communities” says President and co-founder Joan Orr. “We have produced a postcard to help kids and families learn how to help animals and prevent exposure to rabies.” The main focus of this is to stay away from wild animals and loose dogs and to tell an adult. The best way to help an animal is to stay away from it and call Animal Control.

This year we have two versions of the postcard: one that focuses on North American wildlife that may carry rabies and on that focuses on stray dogs and cats. This is also available in poster format and in a version to which you can add your own logo and contact information (if you have the capability to edit the files - Photoshop for example). Download these from this link.

Rabies is rare in domestic dogs in most developed countries, so a loose dog that a child encounters is not likely to be rabid. Children should be encouraged to stay away from all dogs that do not have an owner holding the leash and to Be a Tree (stand still and quiet and avoid eye contact) if a loose dog comes up to them.

Doggone Safe has experts in dog training, dog behavior and dog bite prevention education available for interview. More information about the World Rabies Day Campaign can be found at