During my first few weeks, as an Educational and Community Officer, I observed a range of educational workshops to gain a good understanding of how to introduce key values to change attitudes about dog ownership and overall canine welfare.
One of the first workshops I observed was our ‘Dog Detectives’ lesson which is designed around our Be Dog Smart theme. Be Dog Smart is one of our key themes included in many of our workshops. With 9 million dogs in the UK alone, we all know someone with a dog and we meet strangers’ dogs while out and about in our local community, so it is important that we all have a basic understanding of how to behave safely in these situations.
This workshop aims to identify situations when it is not safe to approach a dog and encourages children to explain how their own behaviour might have an impact on the way dogs respond to them. The main intention is to encourage children to consider why breed or type does not determine the safety of a situation.
After observing and then delivering this workshop, it was clear that there are some misconceptions around specific breeds either being considered ‘unsafe’ or ‘safe’. It is really important that we discuss with children how we cannot tell just by looking at a dog whether it is safe or not. There are many other factors that can influence a dogs’ behaviour or characteristics. Therefore, it’s vital that when children are approaching a new dog, they must always ask the owner for permission.