Dog Bite Attacks – A new lesson for children

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There seem to be many terrible news stories about dog attacks on children, and unfortunately it is only the worst dog bite injuries which are reported. In fact, a new survey suggests that nearly half of all children will be bitten by a dog, with those aged under 7 most at risk.

To address the problem of dog bite attacks on children, Lincoln University is developing a DVD to teach children from as young as the age of three how to interpret a dog’s body language and how to make safe choices.

Some younger children think that when a dog bares its teeth it is ‘smiling’ at them. Others have a tendency to lean in towards the dog – increasing the risk of a dog bite to the face or neck. Thankfully, serious dog attacks on children are rare. But any dog bite can cause scarring and instil a fear of dogs.

It’s estimated that around 4,000 people are treated in A&E every year after being bitten by a dog, but it’s hoped that the new interactive DVD will be used in nurseries and primary schools to teach children about safe and unsafe options when with a dog. The DVD shows scenes where a dog might feel threatened and bite, such as if it sees a child near its food or is woken suddenly or perhaps pushed by the child from a chair or sofa. The child is given options about what to do in each situation, and it’s been found that within just two weeks children learn to choose the safe option and avoid a dog bite.

The DVD is to be called ‘Blue Dog’ and researchers have said: "The child may not have a dog at home, but most youngsters will come into contact with one. While it can't guarantee the child will never get bitten, it will hopefully help reduce the chances."

Dr Tiny de Keuster added: "We hope the Blue Dog Programme will make a difference immediately by teaching parents and children about living with a dog, from the dog's perspective."

Tracy Genever, an education development manager at the Blue Cross charity, said it was important that children could recognise the "warning signs".

She said: "It's really important for children to learn to appreciate things from a dog's point of view, to help them understand better what a dog is feeling and know when it is safe to approach. Just because a dog looks sad, it doesn't necessarily mean it wants a hug."

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