Tuesday, September 11, 2012

World Rabies Day Postcards

Sept 28 is World Rabies Day. Sign up for a free webinar on one or more of many different topics from experts around the world.

Download one of our free postcards. One features animals from North America and the other features dogs and cats.

Side 1

Side 2 - Dogs and Cats

Side 2 - North American Animals

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Study: Cartoon Dogs May Not be Effective for Child Safety Lessons

A report of an article published in the Sept 2012 journal, Children Australia, was described in a news report in the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun.

We are attempting to get the whole article so that we can review it and share the findings, but in the meantime we thought this quote from the study author to the Herald Sun reporter was interesting:

"Cartoon dogs are mainly there to entertain children and so they don't help the children understand why dogs will react in a different way to humans in certain circumstances," Ms Nichols said
The Be a Tree program and all other materials produced by Doggone Crazy! and Doggone Safe feature photos and/or videos of real dogs.

We will post more about this article once we have had a chance to review the original report.

Link to the Herald Sun article

Full citation and link to the published article:

Advising the Alien: Investigating Young Children's Learning of Dog Safety Messages
Sue Nichols, Kirrilly Thompson and Sarah Blunden (2012).
Children Australia, Volume 37, Issue 03, September 2012 pp 115-123

Friday, September 7, 2012

Parents: Is Your Child Really Safe Around Your Dog?

In this article you will learn some dog bite prevention information that you probably
have never heard of before. Did you know that dogs often yawn, not because they are bored or tired, but because they are tolerating a situation that they consider to be unpleasant? Here you will learn how to assess the emotional state of a dog and decide whether the dog is likely to be receptive or annoyed by the attentions of a child. This is important, since in most dog bite instances the biter is a family pet or a dog belonging to a friend, neighbor or babysitter. Normally the children of the family would consider it to be safe to go up and pet the dog while he is sitting looking out the window at a cat on the fence. They would not be breaking any of the safety rules children are generally taught to follow, however, in this case it is not safe to approach the dog. The dog is focussed on the cat and in this state of arousal is not interested in being petted by children. A dog in this frame of mind may snap if approached. In order to prevent these types of bites, children and parents need to learn how to assess the emotional state of the dog and determine whether the dog is safe for a child to approach.

Happy Dogs are Safer

Dogs cannot talk to us with words, but they are highly skilled in the use of body language. Some signals that dogs send are very obvious in their meaning. For example a dog showing his teeth with raised hackles is clearly indicating that he will not tolerate the attentions of a child. A dog that turns his head away or gets up and walks away is asking to be left alone. Other signals are subtler, or are quite obvious, but most people do not know how to interpret them. Happy and calm dogs are safer for children to interact with than dogs that are anxious, scared or angry. Happy and calm dogs will present one or more of the following signals: panting with happy expression, ears and forehead relaxed, tail wagging enthusiastically or lying with one paw tucked under. A dog presenting this way is safe for a child to approach. Note that we are talking about your own dog here. Children should never approach someone else's dog. If the demeanor changes and the dog stiffens, stops panting and wagging or raises his tail high upon the approach of the child then the child should not approach. This applies even to the family pet. An anxious or fearful dog may wag his tail low or even between his legs, he may back away when approached or raise a front paw slightly. A common sign that the dog is unhappy with the situation is the pleading look that happens when a child is mauling the dog. This look involves the dog showing part of the white of the eye in a half-moon shape. Parents seeing this half-moon eye should intervene, since the dog is anxious and may not tolerate the child for much longer. Another danger sign which parents must take very seriously is the raised tail. If a dog raises his tail to a child when the child approaches the dog or when the dog comes near the child, this dog is saying, “Don’t mess with me”. This dog is likely to bite the child if the child continues to antagonize the dog. Parents who see this behavior in the dog should seek the advice of a canine behavior consultant.

Here is a slideshow that gives interpretations to many common dog body language signals:

Approaching a Dog?

In general it is best to teach children to wait for a dog to come to them, rather than going to the dog. This applies even to your own dog (although we know that most people will not agree with this advice). If a dog does not come to the child for attention, then the dog does not want attention at this moment. It is always safer for a child to interact with a dog who wants to interact than with a dog who doesn't. Under no circumstances should a child approach a strange dog or someone else's dog.

My Dog Will Let the Kids Do Anything to Him

Some dogs are more tolerant than others. If you ever hear yourself saying something like: "My dog loves kids, they can do anything to him", then you are allowing risky situations to occur and you are expecting way too much from your dog. Many people think that their dog is good with children and will tolerate any sort of poking, prodding and cuddling. To find out what the dog really thinks, watch the dog for signs of displacement behavior that may occur while the dog is being “tolerant”. If there is conflict in the dog’s mind and he wants to take one action (say, biting or getting up and walking away), but instead he takes another less preferable action (staying put while a child hugs him), he will often displace the desired action with some out-of-context behavior. Common out-of-context, or displacement behaviors include yawning and or stretching when not tired, licking chops when there is no food, sudden scratching, sudden biting or licking of paws or other body parts and wet dog shake when not wet or dirty. The dog may also lick the child repeatedly. This is often mistake for affection when in reality it is the dog attempting to create distance from the child. If you observe displacement behavior during dog-child interactions this is the time to intervene, since the dog is signaling that he may not tolerate much more attention from the child.

Even if you do have the sort of dog that will endlessly tolerate things he doesn't really like from the kids, is it fair to the dog to allow this to continue? Why should your good dog be expected to put up with this? Read about the curse of the good dog and how you can avoid this curse for your good dog.

Interact Only with Happy Dogs

Some breeds of dog always look worried, or alert or carry their tails high or have so much fur that it is difficult to tell which end is which. Children should avoid interactions with dogs if they are unsure about how the dog is feeling. The simplest rule for young children to follow is that happy, panting, wagging dogs are safe and dogs with their mouths closed and intent expressions are not safe. Be on the look out for key signs that the bite risk is increasing. These include, tail raised to the child, half-moon eye, dog intently focussed on something other than the child (cat, food, leash etc) or displacement behavior (yawing and licking of chops are the most common). Dogs displaying these signs are not in a suitable emotional state for interaction with a child and a bite could follow if you do not intervene.

Recommended Parent Resources for Teaching Kids

Family Paws Parent Education
Body Language Flashcard Kit
Dog Detective eBook
Good Dog! Kids Teach Kids About Dog Behavior and Training ebook - by Evelyn Pang and Hilary Louie
Doggone Crazy! Board game (20% off until Sept 30 2012 - use the code FALLGAME in the Doggone Safe store

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Be a Tree in Northern British Columbia

We are very pleased and proud to tell you about the accomplishments of Doggone Safe member Valerie Ingram and her husband Alistair Schroff and their efforts to educate children and families in remote communities in northern British Columbia, Canada. Valerie herself educates about 700 children per year using the Be a Tree program and has been able to procure 26 Be a Tree teacher kits for distribution to other remote communities. In addition to bite prevention education, Valerie and Alistair through the Lakes Animal Friendship Society, organize a large annual event to provide spay/neuter for local animals, to educate native communities about humane education and the importance of reading for children and to provide dog houses for dogs that live outside.

From Alistair:
In the beginning we were inspired by a little dog we called Honey Bear. Honey Bear was from a batch of pups on a First Nations reserve west of Burns Lake. The story is that the owner was told he already had too many dogs and to get rid of the puppies, so the seven puppies were thrown into the river - in the middle of winter. These little pups were Labrador crosses and were able to swim to shore where they huddled together in the cold. A passerby heard the whimpering puppies, found them on the shore and loaded them into his truck, and took them to Turtle Gardens. Turtle Gardens is our only shelter for about 150 miles. Valerie and I heard about the pups at Turtle Gardens and decided to adopt one, who became Honey Bear. Sadly, Honey Bear suffered health problems almost from day one. She nearly died as a pup and suffered various ailments over the next three years until she had to be euthanized, which was heartbreaking.  
We hope that our continuing efforts, particularly the humane education (focussing on care and compassion and bite safety) and the spaying and neutering projects mean less animals will face hardships like poor Honey Bear did.
From Valerie:
I have been working for 5 years, volunteering in my local schools, twice a year.  And only discovered your fabulous resources through Judi a year ago.  My goal is lofty.  I want to get volunteers from each community (even the little rural ones and schools on First Nations reserves) to get into schools to talk about bite safety, care, compassion etc.  I want to get more materials in teachers hands, and any youth group leaders.  The last two years, I've been leaving activities with the teachers.  This is the first year, I finally got a grant and can afford to buy more materials and organize a workshop.  I plan on eventually driving to all communities on this 400 mile corridor to connect with and encourage volunteers to get into schools.  There are a suprising number of people who WANT to get into schools, but are intimidated, or don't have the proper tools.  And that's where Doggone Safe comes in!!!  You HAVE the tools.  Now, I pray people come to the workshop Judi and I are holding in Burns Lake, saving me going to them!  
Well, people did come to the workshop and spay neuter clinic this summer. It was a huge success thanks to the efforts of many, including the Canadian Animal Assistance Team.

Doggone Safe is very proud to have been able to play role in helping to educate children and families as part of an ongoing effort by many volunteers including Valerie and Alistair and our British Columbia co-ordinator Judi Dowson of Canines with Class

Here is the press release describing the event:

In 2011 the Lakes Animal Friendship Society hosted the largest spay / neuter event in BC history, with close to 250 animals spayed and neutered over an eight day period. It was a huge success, but due to the overwhelming response dozens of lower-income families had to be turned away. The Canadian Animal Assistance Team, which is made up of volunteers from across Canada, was eager to return and help these families, and got permission from the College of Veterinarians of BC to hold another animal health event in the Burns Lake Area from May 28th to June 5th.

Families Lined up Early

As expected, families brought their pets and lined up even before the doors were open each day. In the end, the Team spayed and neutered 183 animals and performed health checks, vaccinations and de-worming on 125 more. Only a handful of lower-income families were turned away on the last day when the surgery schedule was full. Laura Sutton, the team leader and registered veterinary technician from Ontario was encouraged by the response. “The numbers of spays and neuters were down a bit from last year, and we hope that means the trend is in the right direction. We had more clients for the other services, and many of those pets had been spayed and neutered at the event last year. Talking to the community members, there is an amazing level of awareness of the needs of animals, and people are very grateful for the care we provided. All of our Team members loved to talk to the guardians, meet the pets, answer questions and provide helpful advice.”

Free Events are not Really Free

Community members were encouraged to make a donation of whatever they could afford. “A lot of time, effort, and money go into holding an event like this” says Valerie Ingram of the Lakes Animal Friendship Society. “No one at the event is paid. The volunteers are taking time away from their families, their pets and their jobs to be there. The Canadian Animal Assistance Team members pay their own travel costs. Local groups are providing facilities, food, accommodations, supplies and support. It is not “free”. It is important that people understand the value of health care for all members of the household, including the four-legged ones. Being a guardian has costs that need to be considered when you are thinking about bringing an animal into your life.”

Dog Houses

The Lakes Animal Friendship Society also distributed dog houses that were built by the College of New Caledonia Residential Building Maintenance class. These houses were painted by Susan Russell’s grade 3 / 4 / 5 class at Grassy Plains School, using paint that was donated by the community. With the distribution of these houses the Society has provided warm, dry shelter to 82 dogs in the Burns Lake area. “We built the first 14 houses from scratch in 2009” says Alistair Schroff. “After that we refurbished 23 more, doing repairs and insulation on old houses donated to the Society. Between the CNC class and Dirk Hofer’s industrial arts class at the high school, 45 houses were constructed in the last 8 months!”

Local rescue groups Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue and Mother Millie stepped forward to take in any animals that were surrendered during the event. “We are very thankful to have these amazing local groups to rely on when an animal needs to find a new home” says Schroff.

Raising Community Awareness

Raising community awareness of bite safety, animal care and compassion is a primary goal of the Lakes Animal Friendship Society and a focus of the Community Animal Care Event. Valerie Ingram is a certified teacher and classroom volunteer. “I speak to about 700 students in our area, usually twice a year” says Ingram. “Last year a number of students came out to the event to see the Canadian Animal Assistance Team in action and learn more about animal care. This year we really wanted to encourage participation and we offered buses for classes to visit the event. Hundreds of students from elementary and secondary schools travelled to the event, asked lots of great questions, and helped out. We hope the students are inspired to make a difference and maybe even pursue a career in animal care! The students even helped come up with a new name for the 2012 event. Ava Nealis from William Konkin Elementary School made the winning suggestion: Great Big Love for Furry Friends Event”.

Education is Critical

The very successful education program in Burns Lake is catching the attention of other community groups. On June 1st and 2nd, the Lakes Animal Friendship Society held humane education workshops for school staff and volunteers who work with youth across BC. “Education is a pillar of any program to keep children safe, improve animal care and increase compassion for others. These workshops and follow-up mentoring will help bring humane education to more schools and communities, including remote locations like Dease Lake. Poor understanding of dog behaviour and lack of training leads to kids getting bitten and dogs ending up in shelters, so we also invited certified master trainers Judi Dowson (from Canines with Class) and Bev Kerr (from Houndsense) to share their knowledge. Doggone Safe and the BC SPCA helped provide educational materials for the workshop attendees. ”

Spay/Neuter and Planned Pethood International

Jeff Young, a veterinarian from Denver, Colorado is a long-time advocate of spaying and neutering programs. He has performed over 165 000 surgeries in his career and supports programs for spaying and neutering through his charity, Planned Pethood International. Dr. Young was hosted by Dr. Lois Martin at the Burns Lake Veterinary Clinic for training and demonstrations of spay / neuter and other preparation and surgical techniques. Dr. Martin and her staff are very supportive of local animal welfare projects and operate the Simonds Sanctuary, a cat shelter. Dr. Martin donated supplies, staff time and use of her clinic over a four day period. Veterinarians and support staff from across the region were invited to attend. Over forty surgeries were performed on animals from lower-income families.

Dr. Young also visited the high school to talk about pet overpopulation, the benefits of spaying and neutering and to answer questions about animal health care and veterinary careers. He told the students to believe in themselves and that they can make a difference if they put their minds to it. He shared a quote from Henry Ford: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

Animal Welfare is a Global Issue

During the Event, Laura Sutton and Jeff Young made an evening presentation at the College of New Caledonia and shared their experiences from animal health care across Canada and around the world, from Nunavut to Slovakia, Mexico, Fiji and elsewhere. They also participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from animal welfare groups, First Nations, and veterinary clinics from across north western British Columbia, and were joined by Staff Sergeant Grant McDonald from the RCMP. As the presentations and roundtable discussions showed, overpopulation and animal welfare issues are a regional and even global concern, Burns Lake is not alone.

Just as the event has grown since last year, so too has awareness of the key animal welfare issues and potential solutions. “Every animal guardian is responsible for the care of their pet and meeting its needs” says Alistair Schroff of the Lakes Animal Friendship Society. “But, it is not just the pet that suffers if there is not proper care. Nuisance, dog bites, and even higher levels of violence in society are some of the side effects. Even if you are not an animal lover, we all need to work together to ensure we have healthy and happy pets so we have healthy and happy families and communities. This extends outside our “local” community, as the communities in the region are linked in many different ways. Groups from across the northwest are starting to build stronger relationships with each other and passionate organizations like the Canadian Animal Assistance Team. This is why we formed the Community Coalition for Animal Welfare in BC in 2011 - to tackle the issues in a much more efficient and sustainable manner. We are optimistic that the coming year will see Coalition members working together to make the Northwest BC Animal Welfare Initiative a reality, with more community education and efforts to ramp up spaying and neutering between Prince George and Prince Rupert, and north to the BC border.”

For more information please contact Alistair Schroff lakesidelegacy@yahoo.ca

If you would like to visit beautiful British Columbia, you can stay with Valerie and Alistair at their lovely bed and breakfast on Francois Lake near Southbank BC

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dog Days of Fall: Back to School Tips

Fall is a time of changing routines as family activities move into high gear. “I receive an increased number of dog bite calls every year during times of change such as vacation and school start up”, says animal behaviour specialist Teresa Lewin. Changes in routine are stressful for dogs. Anxious and upset dogs are more likely to bite and statistics show that most bites to children are caused by a family pet.

Here are some tips to keep the dog from becoming anxious and to keep kids safe: 
  • Supervise dogs and children at all times!
  • During times of transition while everyone is getting ready for school or coming home from school, secure your dog in a calmer setting (such as a crate or gated area) with a safe and engaging chew toy such as a Kong or stuffed bone. Noisy children can get dogs very wound up and excited. This can lead to unintended injury.
  • Do some training or play with the dog for a few minutes after the kids have gone to school. The dog can get lonely when all of a sudden the family is gone and he is all alone for the day.
  • If the entire family is out for the whole day, try to have a neighbor or dog walker come in at lunch time to play with the dog and take him for a walk.
  • After school, bring the dog back into the general area with the kids once everyone is calm. Have each child take a turn take a turn asking the dog to do something (a trick or even just sit) for a treat so that a calm routine is established around coming home time.
  • Learn to read dog body language and teach kids too. The Doggone Crazy! board game (see below) is a fun way to learn how dogs communicate their feelings.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety such as yawning, lip licking and half moon shape in the white of the eye (pleading look). Intervene and redirect both kids and dog to another activity if you see any of these signs while the kids are interacting with the dog or are playing in the vicinity of the dog.
  • Teach kids to respect the dog. If he turns his head away or moves away the kids should leave him alone. Ask the kids questions about the dog's feelings. For example, "What do you think Fido is trying to tell us when he walks away when we try to pet him?"
  • Practice basic obedience with your dog for short periods several times a day to keep him out of trouble and to stimulate his mind.
  • Take kids and dog for a hike in the woods. A tired dog is a good dog!
Dogs are important family members but it is critical to remember that they are animals and they still have natural dog behaviors and instincts. Dogs do best when they are shown what we want them to do and are rewarded for good behaviour. Dogs like routine and to know what is going to happen next. By planning ahead and providing the opportunity for the dog to be in a low stress situation around kids, everyone is poised for success and trouble free transition to fall routines.

About the Doggone Crazy! board game:

Save 20% until the end of September 2012. Use the discount code FALLGAME when purchasing the Doggone Crazy! board game at the Doggone Safe store (US and Canada only).