Monday, June 15, 2009

Be a Tree on Good Morning America

Karen Pryor will be a guest on Good Morning America on Tuesday June 16 to promote her new book, Reaching the Animal Mind. Karen will be using the TAGteach approach to teach the hosts how to Be a Tree. Hopefully this will raise a lot awareness for Doggone Safe's primary message.

Hopefully lots of people will buy Karen's book too! This book should be a fascinating read and I can't wait to get my copy. Click on the link below if you want to find out more or buy the book. Doggone Safe will earn commission if you purchase after following this link.

Karen Pryor Clickertraining

Monday, June 1, 2009

Be a Tree Presenter Tina Spring Van Why in the News

Local media coverage for Be a Tree presenter Tina Srping Van Why: Click to see the article

Presenters: If you are going to a school, invite the local media (after receiving permission from the principal of course). This helps promote the Be a Tree program and helps spread our safety messages. If you are a business owner it can help promote your business as well. Doggone Safe members can download a press release from the Member's Web Page to help spread the word.

Be a Tree Presenter Melissa Millet on TV

Be a Tree presenter Melissa Millet was interviewed on TV during dog bite prevention week:

Case File: Owner in Denial

Case File stories are based on actual bite incidents - names are fictitious.

Mark was riding his skateboard down the sidewalk, when suddenly a neighbour's dog came out off its property and bit him. Suzanne, the owner of the dog was mortified. "She has never done anything like this before, I don't know what got into her. Bad dog!". The animal control officer who investigated the complaint from Mark's mother told Suzanne that Muffy would be put to sleep if she bit someone again.

A few weeks later Suzanne was at her summer home in another community with the family. Her kids were having swimming lessons in the community pool and Muffy was loose outside the fence, running frantically up and down the fence and barking while the children swam. A phone company worker was minding his own business, making a repair in an outside box, when Muffy took out her frustration on his unsuspecting behind. The other parents, who had been annoyed by the dog's racing and barking, were now angry as they realized that it could have been a child's face that was the target of the bite since there were many small children also outside the pool fence waiting for siblings to finish swimming. Suzanne, recalling the warning from the previous bite incident, gave a false name and address to the phone company investigator. "Muffy is my daughter's dog and she loves her so much, I just can't let her be put down".

Unfortunately owners often make excuses for their dogs and are in denial about the dog's capacity to bite, even after the dog has actually bitten. Muffy has bitten twice now and will certainly do so again if the triggers are presented. Suzanne should seek professional help to assess the dog's behaviour and rehabilitation potential and in the meantime the dog should be muzzled at all times outside, kept on a leash or in a crate and never be loose around children. Suzanne needs to consider very carefully whether this dog should get yet another chance. Mandatory microchipping and data sharing would prevent owners like Suzanne from allowing their dogs to offend in different communities without records being shared.

Dogs in the Classroom: Why Not?

Doggone Safe does not use live dogs in its Be a Tree bite prevention programs. This is because we noticed that the live dogs we used to use (highly trained and socialized service dogs - Newfoundlands and a German Shepherd) were very happy to be petted by the first 25-30 children and after that they started yawning or licking their noses or trying to lie down facing away from the children. Since we had just taught the children that a dog showing these signs does not want to be petted, it was contradictory to allow the petting to continue, even though the chance of these dogs actually being stressed enough to bite was negligible. Since most children wanted to meet the dogs, this caused a problem. We could either contradict the lessons we just taught, or have the remaining children be upset. We also found that many children are distracted by a live dog and they want to look at the dog and ask questions (how much does he eat? how much does he weigh?) that were not relevant to the topic of the presentation. We have discussed this issue with many other experienced bite prevention educators and all agree that live dogs do not have a place in a bite prevention seminar. Delta Society Australia uses a stuffed dog as do others and we are working toward securing funding so that Doggone Safe can also have a stuffed dog that children can practice their skills with.

Another reason that Doggone Safe does not allow certified presenters operating under the Doggone Safe name to take live dogs into the classroom is that there is no way to evaluate the dogs or the handling skills of the presenter. Even certified service and therapy dogs handled by professional dog trainers and behaviourists will show signs of anxiety and stress when large groups of children are allowed to pet them and so it is better if the dogs are not subjected to this. The classroom is not the place for people to show off how nice their dog is or how nice their breed is. Surrounding a dog with children potentially sets the dog up to fail, even if the dog generally does like attention from children. If dogs are taken into the classroom as part of another presentation separate from Doggone Safe, we recommend that this be done as a demonstration only (grooming, tricks, obedience, service work etc) and that the children be allowed to watch but not to interact with the dog. This will avoid any chance of a dog reacting and hurting a child and will avoid stress to the dog.