We don’t have a dog. I’d like one but we’re not home enough, it’s small enough in here as it is and there are days when I’m just not going to want to take it for a walk. Plus I think I’m hair intolerant these days. (Though we could get a Labradoodle which don’t moult…) So we don’t have one. But both sets of grandparents have dogs, and both S and I grew up with them.
I’d like E to be comfortable with dogs and not be scared of them. I’ve seen some friends who aren’t certain what to do around dogs or who are scared for no real reason except that they think they should be. Dogs are the loveliest creatures around – full of unconditional love, funny, and intelligent (mostly) enough to do things like help people with disabilities or sniff out bombs and drugs. But it’s rare to see anything more widely about dogs that isn’t negative. Stories of maulings are strong tabloid fodder and the top most complaint to councils is about dog crap all over pavements.
Neither of these things are the fault of the dogs themselves. Don’t get me started on dog owners. (I spent half a day shadowing the council’s dog protection unit at work yesterday and was upset yet not surprised at the dreadful attitudes displayed by some people to their hounds. I got all Tory about suitable punishments for these people. “Hangings too good for them” and all that. But honestly.)
Nevertheless, despite all our family dogs being docile and friendly types, E needs to know how to treat them to make sure that she never sees their natural dog side. And hopefully she’ll grow up knowing how fabulous it is to have a dog friend and companion. So I need to show her how to treat them with respect and common sense.
So I’m glad that Dogs Trust has started a new campaign ‘Be Safe Around Dogs.’ They are offering Dog Smart workshops for parents and children in schools, libraries and community centres. Or you can download a ‘Be Dog Smart’ guide from the internet to get a whole range of tips about teaching children to be safe around dog friends. It offers advice on how to prepare a dog for a new baby in the house, how to read the signals your dog may give out and what to do if your child is scared of dogs.
The Be Dog Smart guide is free to download and should be required reading for all parents, with or without dogs. You can find it here: www.bedogsmart.org.uk