THE Be a Tree programme is an innovative and interactive dog bite prevention education programme created by the non-profit organization, Doggone Safe. Statistics show that up to half of all children are bitten by a dog by the time they are 12-years-old.
Dog bites are considered to be a serious problem and a lot of the time dogs are euthanaised without question as to why the bite occurred. Most bites are by the family dog or another dog known to the child and can be prevented through education.
Thanks to Doggone Safe, the Be a Tree programme is available to schools and children’s groups in Clare. Presenters in the worldwide programme include veterinary nurses, dog behaviorists and other educators. Presenters use a teacher kit that contains large format, full colour photographs showing dog body language signs. Presenter’s also teach games and activities that can be supplemented with learning materials, such as colouring books, paint sheets, story book, poster, stickers, bookmarks and fridge magnets. Children learn to read dog body language and how to act safely around dogs by looking at the photographs and by playing interactive games.
The Be a Tree programme is unique in its use of several different teaching strategies; its focus on physical activity and its emphasis on positive messages. Instead of telling children “don’t do this and don’t do that”, the Be a Tree programme empowers them with the knowledge they need to make safe decisions based on the body language and the actions of the dog and the situation at hand.
The central message of the programme is “Be a Tree” (stand still and quiet and don’t look at the dog) if a strange dog approaches or any dog is causing concern or becoming too frisky.
“Experts agree that public education has an important role to play in reducing dog bite risk to children, and the Be a Tree programme is one of the ways Doggone Safe is contributing”, said Joan Orr, president of the group.
Doggone Safe is well regarded in the humane education community and all materials were created and reviewed by experts. Be a Tree is endorsed by The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) and Doggone Safe bite prevention educational materials are used in the programmes of many humane societies and by dog bite prevention educators across the US and Canada.
If any schools or groups would like to learn about the Be A Tree bite prevention programme please get in touch with me and together perhaps we can help children learn a lot more about how to interact with their pets.