Hundreds of pupils at Salford schools have been learning all about how to behave around dogs, and what it takes to keep a dog happy and healthy.
Education & Community Officer Anna Baatz, accompanied by her four-legged friend Education Dog Mo, has been along to primary schools Mesne Lea, Bridgewater, Broadoak and Marlborough Road Academy to help children understand what is involved in caring for a dog and how to stay safe around them.
A recent survey carried out by Dogs Trust, the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, revealed that 28% of parents in the North West would let their child approach a dog they don’t know and 27% of children in the area are afraid of dogs*.
Anna said: “The survey showed that a fifth of parents in the region said they had no idea what signs to look out for when a dog may be feeling uneasy and could be pushed to become aggressive, so it’s really important that we improve children’s understanding of dogs.
“The Be Dog Smart workshops help children understand that a dog is a living creature that thinks, feels, and gets frightened just like us. We talk to them about not approaching a dog when it’s eating or asleep and not to tease them.
“We also look at what to do if there is a dog they don’t know, and advise that they should never approach them and only stroke the dog if the owner says they can. Simply understanding a dogs body language can be the difference between a bite or not and by doing these workshops we can help teach children how to live safely and thoroughly enjoy the companionship of man’s best friend.”
The workshops also help children understand what is involved in looking after a dog properly using the ‘Bag of Needs’ that contains everything from a lead and food bowl to a brush, toys and things to do with their health, such as flea and worm treatments.
Kathryn Heyes, Year Six Teacher, from Mesne Lea Primary School said: “It was a fantastic workshop. The children loved the Bag of Needs; getting the different things out of the bag really helped them understand what responsible dog owners need to consider if their dog is to be looked after well.
“Many of our children have dogs and of course I’m sure all of them come into contact with dogs, so it was fantastic to have the opportunity thanks to Dogs Trust to help them understand how to care for dogs and how to stay safe around them. Having Mo here was a real treat too, for the teachers as well as the children!”
Dogs Trust Manchester opened last October in Denton, Tameside, and has rehomed more than 500 dogs, from Dalmations to Yorkshire Terriers. It is expected to rehome more than 1,000 dogs every year.
Dogs Trust offers free fun and interactive Be Dog Smart workshops at schools, community centres, leisure centres and any other suitable location for children, young people and parents. To find out more or to book a workshop with Anna click here
Photo: Marlborough Road Academy pupils are pictured doing the ‘X-factor’, demonstrating how you can help stop a dog jumping up at you. They are joined by Dogs Trust Education & Community Officer, Anna Baatz, and four-year-old Mo, who Anna rehomed from Dogs Trust.