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Dogs Trust Urges Parents to "Be Dog Smart"

18 March 2015
Dogs Trust

UK - Pulling his tail, sitting on him, disturbing his sleep and kissing his nose are just some of the antagonising ways children act around dogs according to a new survey released today by Dogs Trust.

Dogs Trust is urging parents to never leave a child alone with any dog as part of its ground breaking Be Dog Smart safety campaign launch.

There is no escaping the hard fact that dog attacks are on the rise and worryingly, the rate of hospital admissions for dog bites is highest among the 0-9 age group; 1,160 children were hospitalised during 2013-2014.

With the dog population on the increase and 8.9 million dogs currently in the UK, the new Be Dog Smart campaign aims to educate the entire community on how to stay safe around dogs.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Adrian Burder, comments: "Children can come into contact with dogs every day and being around dogs can have so many wonderful benefits, but the simple fact is that all dogs have teeth and any dog can bite or snap if worried, scared or hurt. So, to reduce the number of dog attacks, whether you are a dog owner or not, it is important that we all know and teach our children, grandchildren, pupils and friends how to behave around dogs.

"All children remember their Green Cross Code and we want Be Dog Smart to be just as well known. Dogs Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity with expert knowledge in dog behaviour. Our hope is that simple advice such as NEVER leave your child alone with any dog, never tease a dog, don't approach a dog you don't know and always asking the owner before you approach a dog could prevent more dog attacks."

The survey revealed:

  • 44 per cent of parents would leave a child under the age of 11 alone with a dog, and 12 per cent would leave a pre-schooler (under 5) alone with a dog
  • Over 34 per cent of children come into contact with a dog everyday, yet one in three (30 per cent) are afraid of dogs
  • Although 60 per cent of parents say they teach their children to stay safe around dogs, 89 per cent of parents were unaware that there are over 20 signs that a dog may feel uneasy and could be pushed to become aggressive or may bite
  • Over half of children questioned think a growling dog is smiling
  • Almost a third of parents (32 per cent) would let their child approach or pet dogs they don't know
  • A fifth of parents have seen their child sit or lie on a dog, 19 per cent kiss a dog's nose, 18 per cent pull a dog's tail and 14 per cent shout or hit a dog

As part of the Be Dog Smart campaign, Dog Trust's team of 22 Education Officers will go into schools, libraries and community centres across the country delivering Be Dog Smart workshops. Key advice will be given to anyone who has responsibility for children - parents, teachers, grandparents, child-minders, foster carers, sports coaches and the children themselves.

Dogs Trust Manchester Education Officer, Anna Baatz, holds Be Dog Smart workshops and comments: “Working with children has been a real eye–opener, they are inquisitive and want to play but they must understand that a dog is not a toy – they don’t always want to play! Simply understanding when a dog says “enough” can be the difference between a bite or not. By working with adults and children alike we can help teach adults and children how to live safely with man’s best friend.”

The National Childbirth Trust is supporting the Be Dog Smart campaign. Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at NCT said:

"A dog can be a happy part of family life but taking a few simple precautions will help to avoid your children incurring any avoidable injuries. The Be Dog Smart guidance offers parents some great tips to keep new babies and toddlers safe around dogs and we would encourage all parents to take a look at them."

Dogs Trust’s Guide to “Be Dog Smart”:

10 easy tips to remind kids how to stay safe around dogs:

Beware of disturbing dogs that are eating or sleeping.

Even if for fun, don't ever tease a dog please.

Don't approach a dog with no owner around.

Only stroke a dog when the owner says 'Yes, you can.'

Get the dog to sniff your hand first, then stroke gently.

Strange dog approaching? Stand still, look away, cross your arms (Do the X-Factor!).

Move calmly and quietly around any dog.

All that hugging and kissing - you might like it, dogs don't!

Remember all dogs have teeth.

Treat dogs with respect and they will respect you!

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