Preschoolers learn the 'pawfect' way to be around dogs
The Sector > Provider > General News > Koonawarra Preschoolers learn how to live safely with dogs in a ‘pawfect’ new program

Koonawarra Preschoolers learn how to live safely with dogs in a ‘pawfect’ new program

by Freya Lucas

June 26, 2024

Children from Koonawarra Public Preschool recently enjoyed a visit from dog safety educator Sue Turner and her miniature schnauzer Tig, learning all about how to live safely with dogs as part of a program promoting responsible pet ownership. 


The program aims to teach children in age appropriate ways about how to be kind to, and safe around, pets of all kinds. 


With more than half of all Australian families having one or more pets, the Responsible Pet Ownership program, run by the Office of Local Government NSW, aims to educate parents and young children about how to be safe with animals.  


Using song, dance and role play, Ms Turner and Tig guided the children through some easy to remember tips about how to be safe around pets, including: 


  • Always ask the owner before you pet a dog. 
  • Even if a dog looks friendly, he or she may not be. 
  • Let a dog sniff your hand before you pet. 
  • Learn to read dog body language.  
  • If a dog has a treat or toy, give him or her space.  
  • When giving treats, use a flat palm with fingers held together. 
  • Never scream or run away from a dog. 
  • Always supervise kids around pets.


With 1,213 dog attacks reported in NSW between October 2023 and December 2023, and around two thirds of the attacks involving people, the program is an essential aspect of community education, one which Koonawarra Public School Assistant Principal Michelle Dixon welcomed as an addition to the many extracurricular school programs that preschoolers can participate in.


“Our model of integrating preschoolers into events helps children build a sense of belonging beyond the walls of their preschool,” she said.


“The responsible pet program, for example, teaches safe interactions so children are aware of not only the dangers involved with animals, but also the positive impact such interactions can have.”


Ms Dixon said it was important for preschoolers to enjoy experiences together to help foster a sense of self, make connection and “be part of the Koonawarra Public School way.”

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