Dogs and children can be the best or the worst combination.
Timmy and Lassie are a myth... Lassie had extensive training and was worked
off screen by handlers. He (yes, the dog playing Lassie is a male) responds to cues given by his trainer and handlers. Timmy is an actor. Lassie is just a
series of TV shows and movies. Lassie is NOT reality. Reality is the average dog and child are under trained and socialized to each other. Reality is many
dog bites are preventable with a bit of education for the child, parent and dog owner. Reality is that any dog regardless of breed or cross has the potential to
bite. Reality is there is no 100% safe breed of dog - nor is there a breed of dog that is 100% dangerous. We as humans determine how safe our individual
dogs will be through training, socializing and proper management. We as parents/guardians determine how safe our children will be around dogs through proper training and management. Dog safety is a two-way street.
According to the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control) dog bites each year in
the US are responsible for close to 4.7 Million injuries, 800,000 injuries requiring medical care, 17 deaths and about 914 hospital emergency room visits per day.
According to the CDC, the odds of a dog bite victim being a child are 3.2 to 1
and the majority of bites occur at the family home or in a familiar place. Dog bites are the second most commonly seen injury to children in hospital
emergency rooms after only baseball/softball injuries. (source, Journal of the American Medical Association and dogbitelaw.com)
Dogs generally do not become aggressive or biters overnight unless there is an
underlying medical condition. Often, there are warning signs long before a tragedy occurs. Also, children may instigate bites or behave in manners
around dogs that encourage bites. Many times, bites in children are a combination of: children not knowing puppy/dog safety; improper or nonexistent socializing and training of puppies/dogs; improper supervision
and families inadvertently teaching that biting - even in play - is acceptable. Just because a dog has never bitten does not mean he never will bite. It just
means the dog's individual tolerance levels have not been pushed to the threshold of a bite.
In 2001, West Wind Dog Training decided to begin offering a program to
schools, youth organizations, 4-H clubs, Scouts, Dog Clubs, parenting groups, etc., to teach about increasing child/dog safety.
Covered in the program are such topics as: safer games with dogs, a child's
role in a dogs behavior, why training and socializing a dog is important, what to do if you see a stray, how a dog should be approached, when you should
not approach a dog and what to do if a dog threatens. However, the program will be adapted to fit the needs of the individual group.
This program is free to nonprofit groups, schools, clubs, private schools,
summer camp programs and libraries and for-profit adult organization there is a fee based on what can be afforded and travel time it takes to get there. I try to keep the program affordable for all.
Lecture time is 30 - 60 minutes based on the needs of the group - more intense
lectures for those interested in learning to teach a program are available as well.
If you are interested in hosting a Safe Kids/Safe Dogs program, please contact Karen Peak at 703-730-8429 or email.
For a little bit more about dog safety, please click here.
If you are interested in upcoming talks, click