Written by Miss Jenn (Busy Bees at Cameron Park)
The Living Safely with Dogs Program is a free initiative that delivers over 2,000 visits to more than 65,000 kindergarten children and 18,000 parents each year. The program teaches children:
- How to safely approach and meet a new dog
- What to do if they see a dog with no owner
- Dog body language and how to know when we should leave a dog alone
- Tips for staying safe with our pets at home
The children were very excited to meet Mel and her dog Cheers to learn all about how to safely interact with our furry, four-legged friends.
During the session, the children and Educators learned some valuable lessons regarding not only how to stay safe with our pets at home, but also what to do if we see a dog on the street and when it is safe to approach them.
This experience provided the children with an opportunity to put these lessons into practice by safely approaching and interacting with a real dog. We learned important lessons like if a dog has no lead or no owner then we should not touch them. We also discussed, if an owner was present, how to safely approach and pat the dog.
Mel taught us that we need to stop three steps away, ask the owner’s permission, and approach with a safe hand (a fist with the thumb tucked in) to let the dog sniff your hand before patting from the collar to the tail.
We also importantly learned when we needed to leave a dog alone, and that this is especially important for children who have dogs at home, to ensure that they understand when it is important to give a dog space. We learned how to look at a dog’s behaviour and body language to help us understand what they’re feeling.
The children really enjoyed this experience and shared lots of stories about their own pets at home. They also talked about times when they had followed the rules that we had learned in real life situations.
The session was accompanied by an interactive song and dance session. The children loved dancing and joining in singing to the catchy songs. They were very eager to put what we had learned into action as they took turns approaching Mel and asked for permission before giving Cheers a big pat on the back.
The children were very engaged during this experience and the theme of dogs carried on for the rest of the afternoon! They extended on their learning by engaging in dramatic play with their friends, as dogs owners and themselves, practising the skills they had learned during the presentation.