“The number of bites to children is atrociously high and can easily be reduced through education,” says Teresa Lewin, vice president and co-founder of Doggone Safe.
The nonprofit uses a program it developed called “Be a Tree” to educate kids about safety around dogs. “We teach children to ‘be a tree’ if a strange dog approaches or any dog is bothering them or becoming too frisky,” says Joan Orr, president of Doggone Safe. The idea is trees “are boring to dogs and the dog will just sniff them and go away.”
To “be a tree” you plant your roots (stop), fold your branches (hands folded in front), watch your roots grow (look at your feet) and silently count your breaths in and out until the dog goes away or help comes, Orr says.
“The program focuses on teaching kids what to do as opposed to giving them a list of don’ts,” Orr says. “Our approach to bite prevention education is not to frighten, but to empower children with the knowledge they need to assess a situation with a dog and keep themselves safe.”
Doggone Safe presenters have already pledged to educate over 17,000 kids in six countries, six Canadian provinces and twenty six U.S. states during the week-long drive.
To learn more, visit Doggonesafe.