Friday, November 27, 2009

Dog Bite Victim Rehab - Part 2

Teresa Lewin (cofounder of Doggone Safe and dog behaviour specialist) has developed some interesting ways of using TAGteach to help dog bite victims overcome fear of dogs.

In a previous post we presented the first in a series of videos. This shows Paige identifying characteristics of dogs in photos from the Doggone Crazy! board game and the Be a Tree teacher kit (available from Doggone Crazy!). She receives a tag for providing the correct answer. This helps her in two ways: 1) she is learning about canine body language and becoming empowered with the knowledge that lets her judge what kind of mood a dog might be in; 2) she is becoming desensitized to the presence of dogs without any risk.

The second two videos show Paige being tagged in the presence of a dog and then being tagged for actually working with the dog. The tag points relate to physical signs of relaxation produced by Paige.

Click here for more information about TAGteach.

Helping Troubled Teens Overcome Fear of Dogs

by Heddie Leger

We have been called upon to visit and work with youth that have less than fortunate home situations. Some are pregnant teens. Many, if not most have a great fear of dogs. There is a difference between fear and respect and we try to help them understand this. Our first meeting is without the dog(s). We bring in pictures, trading cards, photo albums and let them see the dogs doing things with people to encourage their curiosity. We provide Doggone Safe cards and other information regarding safe interactions with dogs. We teach the "Be A Tree" and just purely do relationship building exercises.

The next visit we bring the dog(s). We are very careful to bring only dogs with entirely neutral body language and a very calm temperament. Sometimes the youth are curious enough they will want to meet the dogs. Most of the time they will clutch their babies (ages 1-4) close to them and transmit their fear. This is where we feel most effective, as we help them understand that we understand their fear and how painful it can feel. We try to communicate to them how they are teaching their children to also be fearful. Most of the time they will agree that their fear comes from a bad experience, and that they would like their children not to live with the same fear and that they would like to learn to deal with and conquer their fear. This sometimes takes several visits.

The complex thing of these visits is that there are also toddlers (ages 1-4) in the room with us. We have multiple layers of ages. This is where the Doggone Crazy! board game comes in handy. Some of the youth will play the game while others engage the younger children, then they will switch. The cards, questions and game board are wonderfully interactive. With this grouping, often there are a few that will visit with the dog(s), and provide a positive role model of a safe interaction with dogs. Many of these youth have seen dog fights and have fears due to those experiences. The game really helps them learn on three facets, seeing the photos, participating in an interactive experience during the game by reading and answering questions, and then by seeing others interact with dogs in a positive manner. Even if they are too fearful to interact with the dogs directly they are learning positive interactions in a fun and entertaining manner from the game and from personal observations. Since there is not direct interaction with the dogs, they become more comfortable each time. The majority of the time by the end of a month, they are willing to at least brush the dog, even if they are not yet comfortable enough to touch the dog with their hand. We again reinforce the Be A Tree as many times as they need it.

Of all the visits we provide, these are some of the most intense, they are also the most rewarding.

Our other visits we provide range from hospice, to READing with the Dogs in school with at-risk children, to working with PT patients in a hospital or the psychiatric unit. Oh, and by the way, the game is equally as effective with children at a psychiatric unit. It engages them, even if they do have a short attention span. Sometimes we will continue the game through several visits.

Click here to learn more about Heddie

Click here to learn more about the Doggone Crazy! board game and Be a Tree teacher kit mentioned in the article.

Why Do Dogs Bite Children?

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that resource guarding was a major cause of dog bites to children and that discipline measures were a key bite trigger. These results support our contention that training without force or punishment leads to reduced bite risk and that preventing resource guarding is critically important.

See our previous post about how to prevent resource guarding.

Click here to see the research article abstract

Click here to read an excellent and detailed review of the BMJ article by Eric Goebelbecker published at the Dog Star Daily blog. Thanks to Eric for taking the time to share this important information. All dog trainers and dog owners should read this!

Laura Monaco-Torelli Wins Best Dog Trainer Award

Doggone Safe member and Be a Tree presenter Laura Monaco Torelli was named the winner for "Best Dog Trainer" in the Readers Choice 2009 Chicagoland Tails Pet Magazine. Congratulations to Laura!

Laura is a clicker trainer and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner. She is having a strong influence in promoting force-free humane dog training and dog bite prevention through education in Chicago. Thanks Laura!

Visit Laura's website

Friday, November 20, 2009

Continuing Education Credits for Veterinarians

Veterinarians in the province of Saskatchewan can now earn continuing education credits in the non-scientific category for taking the Doggone Safe online course: Basic Body Language. This course teaches about dog body language and is informative for veterinarians who may not have had much training in dog behaviour. Understanding the subtleties of dog body language helps veterinarians assure the emotional well-being of the dogs they handle as well as helping them to avoid provoking a bite to themselves, their staff or the client. For veterinarians with good knowledge of dog body language, this course provides the key information that veterinarian can point out to their clients. There may be some cases where the client might even be advised to take the course in order to prevent an incident at home with the dog. The course provides free handouts suitable for client education.

Dr. Barbara Evans of Saskatchewan conducted a survey to determine the continuing education needs and goals of veterinarians. Here is an excerpt from her report, published in the fall issue of the SVMA News:
The participants acknowledged, the while continuing education programs were critically important to the professional development of veterinarians, such programs should also include practically relevant information that they could readily pass on to their clients in the form of client education. Suzanne's comment about CE programs focusing on: "something that my clients would like to know and would be interesting to them" was typical. The participants noted that whether they brought specialists to their clinic for discussion sessions or sought out specific learning material that would benefit their clients, what was important is for the material to be current and be quickly adapted to their clinical practice. The desire by the participants to focus on the need for CE programs to include and address the learning needs of their clients was a key finding in this study.
Click here to read the entire study report - reprinted by permission from the SVMA News, Fall 2009.

For more information about the Basic Body language course please visit

Dog Bite Prevention in Northern Communities

Every year dedicated volunteer veterinary teams from Saskatchewan, Canada visit isolated communities in the north. In September Team North visited Sandy Bay, a community of about 1300 people, surrounded by spectacular wilderness. The veterinary team provided examinations, de-worming and spay/neuter for about 57 dogs and 3 cats as well as educational programs for local school children.

The report of this latest Team North adventure was written by Dr. Lesley Sheppard and printed in the Fall 2009 issue of the SVMA News. Here is an excerpt:
There were many stray dogs in the community wandering around. When we arrived, we were met by a group of about eight dogs, not aggressive, just checking us out. ... Emily Jenkins and I gave several talks about veterinary medicine and dog bite prevention to the school... In light of the recent dog bite incident at Ile-a-La-crosse, the need to continue the program is evident. The combination of spay/neuter, education, dog bite prevention and a town dog catcher will help these communities a great deal.

Doggone Safe is very pleased to note that these professionals consider dog bite prevention education to be an important part of their mission.

The incident in Ile-a-la-crosse (another northern Saskatchewan community), to which Dr. Sheppard refers, involved the serious mauling of a 6-year old child by a loose dog. This town has responded by rounding up the loose dogs and shooting them. This tragedy highlights the need for dog owner education, bite prevention education, access to spay/neuter clinics and animal control. Click here to see a photo of the victim (graphic) and to read a news report.

Thanks to Team North for doing what they can to try to prevent this type of situation. if you would like to donate money or supplies to the next Team North trip in the spring, please contact the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association for information.

Click here to download the entire article. Reprinted with permission from the SVMA News, Fall 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Member Event: LOL 4 Pets

Dubbed LOL for Pets, a Comedy Night/BBQ Dinner to benefit the St. Augustine Humane Society on Sunday, December 6th at Gypsy Cab in St. Augustine, is a sure bet for a good laugh and a good cause.

Ponte Vedra's own Johnny Mac, who acted in the movie "Recount" with Kevin Spacey and Dennis Leary and has opened for such notables as Lily Tomlin, headlines the evening. Johnny's quick wit and sense of timing make him a favorite for adult humor (but not x-rated) from coast to coast. Johnny, who originally lived and performed in New York City, is an avid sponsor of animal rescue, and the proud owner of four dogs of his own. Award-winning comedians Amy Beckham and Andree Holloway complete the comedy roster.

Amy writes her own comedy, and her style is energetic, good-natured and clean. She was Gypsy Comedy Club's "Last Comic Survivor" in 2005.

Andre Holloway's act is typically clean but innuendo-ed, (a word he believes he made up). His following tends to call him a "thinking persons comic". He's the winner of the 2004 Comics Choice award in St. Augustine Florida.

A delicious Gypsy BBQ buffet will precede the performance, featuring: ribs, chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread, apple waldorf salad, and non-alcoholic drinks. A cash bar is available, and the Humane Society will hold a raffle where audience members can win cash and prizes. Tickets for the dinner and show are available for a $25 donation.

For info or tickets contact

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Help Doggone Safe When You Shop

We have signed up with to raise money for our efforts to help dog bite victims. This is essentially a rebate program, whereby online retailers give you a rebate and you in turn donate it to Doggone Safe. The rebates from each purchase are small, but many of them together will add up to benefit Doggone Safe.

There are over 700 online retailers participating in the program. Major retailers such as Expedia, Chapters, Kodak Gallery and Amazon participate. The prices are exactly the same as if you were not going through In fact there are often special discount offers and coupons for igive customers. The buying process is exactly the same as any online buying except that you log into your igive account and then you access the store so that they know to give a rebate.

You can also raise money by searching the web after logging in to your igive account, even if you don't actually purchase anything. $0.02 is donated for each search.

What you do if you want to help:
  1. Sign up for an account at igive by clicking here
  2. When you are asked to choose whether to receive a check, a tax receipt or no tax receipt, please do not choose to receive a check or the rebate will not go to Doggone Safe.
  3. Go to the igive list of retailers and bookmark it, or even drag it to the task bar of quick links near the top of your screen for easy access.
  4. Go to the isearch page and bookmark that in case you want to search for something to buy.
Here is an example.

Say you wanted to buy something from Home Depot. You would go to and login. Type "home depot" into the search box and you will get a result showing the US and Canada stores. You can check out the coupon links to the right or just go straight to the store and buy whatever you want. There will be no more interaction with igive and your shopping experience will be the same as always. The rebate will automatically be credited to Doggone Safe.

If you are looking for Canadian stores, use the search box rather than the Canadian stores list, since there are many stores not listed in the Canadian stores list.

Try it out when you do your online Christmas shopping. It is very easy!