Paws for Kids Safety


We have all heard the horrendous stories of children that are bitten by dogs. We hear which breeds are responsible and we all hear whose fault it was: the dog’s, the owner’s, the parent’s, the child’s.

Who is correct? Could it be everyone and no one at the same time?

Many programmes are available, both online and delivered by volunteers, across New Zealand, and they do a great job. But is it enough?

If you look at the rising number of dog bites that are occurring in New Zealand, it is not justDog Bite Graph 0-9 year olds in children but across the board. What we are doing isn’t enough!!

In children aged 0-9 there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported dog bites:

In 2014 there were over 31 dog bites reported per week on children under the age of 9. A study in the Netherlands of over 40,000 homes showed that only one third (38%) of dog bites are reported.

When we are educating children regarding safety around dogs there are many things to consider especially when we are talking about dog bites.

Programmes need to engage children: ideally in a series of activities that are all repeating the same messages. Organisations must also work with schools, whanau and the local community to ensure that all children are getting the same messages.

The way we relate to dogs needs to change so we are kept up to date as more research becomes available. One example is that in the 90’s we were all told to touch a dog under the chin. Now studies done in 2013 and published March 2014 show us that touching a strange dog under the chin is the second most stressful area for the dog to be touched. (Abstract of the study Behavioral and cardiac responses by dogs to physical human– dog contact by Franziska Kuhne, Johanna C. Hößler, Rainer Struwe)

There are certain Golden Rules that everyone should follow, and as adults it is our job to show our children what to do:

Rule 1Rule 2Rule 3

It is essential that any organisation that is offering training for both adults and children regarding safety with dogs have the most up to date and relevant information available. When talking to schools regarding the education of children they need to be aware of any child that may have had a bad experience with dogs. In discussion with various child psychologists each situation needs to be handled differently.

PET First Aid & Training have a unique way of working with the schools to help children who are fearful of dogs. Each of the dogs they use for school visits has a characteur created of them to enable the teachers to spend time with the children prior to the dogs coming on site. This process creates a familiarity to the dog that has been assigned to their school reducing the levels of stress when they meet the dog for the first time. The teachers encourage the children to download colouring in, join the dots and models of the dogs to make so that it increases the children’s level of comfort.

If you would like more information please call 0508 PET FIRST or email

Remember to check out the kids section of the website!

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