Be Dog Smart

Be Dog Smart is a joint public education initiative aimed at educating children under the age of 12 regarding dog bite prevention.

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Dogs are an important part of our lives and valued members of our families and communities. They make wonderful companions and playmates, love us unconditionally, and enrich our lives with their friendly and cheerful nature. Since dogs play a large role in our community, the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and the Regina Humane Society believe that every child should be taught to behave safely around them and Be Dog Smart.

While dogs can do many amazing things, they cannot speak our language. They cannot communicate with words when they are upset, scared, or feeling unwell. Helping children understand the reasons why dogs may bite is essential to preventing dog bites before they happen.

Be Dog Smart is a joint public education initiative aimed at educating children under the age of 12 regarding dog bite prevention. Be Dog Smart focuses on helping young children understand how to behave safely around dogs. Through a lack of knowledge and experience, children are often at greater risk of suffering from a severe dog bite injury including bites to the head and body requiring stitches, visits to the emergency room, or admission into hospital for treatment. Children who learn to Be Dog Smart and treat all dogs with respect will be safer around our dog companions.

Why Be Dog Smart?

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While owning a dog can be a rewarding experience, it also comes with certain responsibilities and risks. According to the Canada Safety Council, children are the most common victims of dog bites and are more likely to be severely injured. The majority of these bites happen in and around the home, and the biting dog is typically a family pet or belongs to someone the family knows.

The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region follows up on all reported animal bites to ensure that there is no risk of rabies transmission. In 2007, 300 animal bites were investigated, and by 2014, that number increased to over 500 reported animal bites. Of these bites, dogs were responsible for over 70% of all reported animal bites. Unfortunately, in 2014 children aged 12 and under accounted for 33% of all reported dog bite victims. When the severity of the animal bite is taken into account (i.e. bites to the head), 63% of those bite victims are children, with the majority requiring a visit to the emergency room.

The Regina Humane Society believes that teaching children the right and wrong ways to communicate with dogs benefits everyone. Children unfamiliar with safe behaviour around dogs can easily enter or create a situation where an otherwise “friendly” animal may bite (i.e. approaching a dog that is eating, hugging a dog, taking away a dog’s toys or treats, etc.). If dog bite prevention and simple safety rules are taught early and often, both in school and at home, many dog bites will be avoidable. Providing children with assessment, avoidance, and coping skills will enable them to handle animal encounters confidently and with greater safety, and in the event of a serious attack, could reduce the likelihood of a life-threatening injury.

Be Dog Smart Resources

Help promote safe behaviour around dogs by downloading our educational pamphlets, information sheets, and posters, and sharing what you have learned.

If you would like printed colour copies of this information, please email environmentalhealth@rqhealth.ca or call 306-766-7755.

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