Pilot program will help young Canberrans interact safely with dogs
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Pilot program will help young Canberrans interact safely with dogs

Pilot program will help young Canberrans interact safely with dogs

by Freya Lucas

December 10, 2019

Young Canberran children will learn about dog safety via a pilot program which is to be rolled out to selected early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres across the Territory. The Living Safely with Dogs program has been brought to the ACT based on its success in New South Wales and Victoria. 


The program, ACT Minister for City Services Chris Steel explained, is designed to prevent dog bites by giving children the skills and knowledge they need to safely engage with dogs.


When run in NSW and Victoria, the program has resulted in better interactions, preventing bites. The program introduces children to a range of at risk behaviours, and helps children to: 


  • understand when dogs should be left alone; 
  • things we should not do to dogs; 
  • how to tell if a dog is happy, frightened or angry; 
  • a safe way to approach and greet a dog; and, 
  • what to do if approached by an unknown or aggressive dog.


The pilot program is just one of the key actions in the Canberra Dog Model, targeting education programs for children and families.


Fifty early childhood centres in the ACT elected and enrolled in the pilot program which contains “interactive, fun and informative visual aids, songs, demonstrations with a trained and experienced dog and a take-home booklet for kids to share with their family”. 


The lessons involve a fully trained pet educator and their suitability tested dog visiting the early childhood centres and engaging with children to teach them all there is to know about how to live safely with dogs.


“Young children are the most likely group in the community to be the victim of a dog attack and this program is targeted at reducing the risk of bites in this age group,” Minister Steel said.


“Most dog attacks involving children take place in the home environment with a dog known to them and the program will support parents to be responsible pet owners, including expecting parents.”

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