April is Dog Bite prevention month. Officially April 10-16. I prefer to refer to it as Dog Aware month. I absolutely want to prevent dog bites and have spent the last 20 years dedicated to this goal. One of the hardest challenges over the years has been that as soon people hear dog bite education/prevention people often turn off. They feel that this type of information is not relevant to them as ” Their dog is a good dog.” “Their dog LOVES kids.” “Their dog would never bite.” I completely understand these feelings but also know that even good dogs can bite. Even the best dog can bite under the right circumstances. So how can we reach people? How can we make this information more inviting and less threatening? This was the challenge that would keep me up at night. Still does.
I wanted to find a phrase or words that were positive and encouraged learning. Something people could strive for and gain. I began using the phrase Dog Aware. Everyone has some Dog Aware skills. Even if it is that a dog has 4 legs and a tail, that is Dog Aware. So everyone has a successful starting point from which we can always strengthen, build, grow, expand and increase our dog aware skills. I want people to feel empowered, not fearful. Everyone can know their dog more and more each day by increasing their dog aware skills. If people shut off when they hear Dog bite….then let’s try a different approach. After all isn’t it all about what happens BEFORE?!? If a bite happens, we kind of missed the important stuff, right???? What we need is dog lovers to be excited and open to learning about their dog and how they communicate using their body language. This is my thoughts, goals and passion. So, how do we begin? Great question! You begin by becoming a Doggie Detective®
I believe that staying curious and learning about your dog’s behavior and how they communicate with their body language is one of the key parts to increasing your dog aware skills. Being a Doggie Detective is a GREAT way to build and grow Dog Aware skills. I have always loved creating material that was fun and memorable. As a teacher I loved the challenge of finding interesting and fun ways to introduce challenging concepts in a way that would help make them stick. This has not changed in my career as a certified dog behavior consultant and expert in dog and baby/toddler dynamics. When my kids were in elementary school I would go to the school and present the Doggie Detective program to help children increase their Dog Aware skills. I presented to hundreds of kids over the years, more likely thousands. I would ask the kids if they would like to be detectives. They of course would say “YES!” Then I explained that today they were going to learn how to be a special type of detective, a Doggie Detective. I would then ask, Does a detective solve a case with just one clue? Of course the kids said “NO!” So from there I described what it takes to be a Doggie Detective. Doggie Detectives solve the case by looking at the entire dog and gathering the clues. EARS, EYES, TAIL and MUZZLE, gather the clues to solve the puzzle. We would chant this together. This was so much fun and my daughter Kayleigh really enjoyed sharing her Doggie Detective skills! Here is a video we did together from 2007
Since then we have been expanding and sharing the Doggie Detective concept. I love that the kids love it and quite honestly adults do too. It really helps highlight dog aware skills. Check this video out of Bethany Cunningham’s son being a Doggie Detective.
We invite you to become Doggie Detectives and share this information to help increase safety and decrease stress with kids and dogs. Want to help spread education in your community? Get your Doggie Detective kit here!
Check out our updated Activity sheets! This April we invite you to enjoy and share these activity sheets. Color them in share images in the comments section or email them to familypaws at gmail.com. We can’t wait to see all the Doggie Detectives out there!