(Kennel Club Press Release) The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to responsible dog ownership, has called for greater awareness about child safety around dogs following the release of figures showing that 17% of incidents involving dogs happen to children under 10 years old.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has announced figures that show under 10’s accounting for the highest rate of admissions per age group for strikes and bites from dogs over the past 12 months.
The Kennel Club is urging parents and teachers to communicate with children about safety around dogs with help from the Kennel Club’s Safe And Sound scheme.
The HSCIC figures also show that 24% of incidents involving dogs involve people between the ages of 20 and 39, the age groups most likely to have young children, indicating that parents themselves may not know the safest and most responsible ways to interact with dogs.
The Safe And Sound scheme has been specially created by experts at the Kennel Club to educate parents, children and teachers about the correct ways to behave around dogs.
As well as teacher’s notes and literature, the scheme includes a fun online game called the Safety Factor Challenge to engage children on this important issue.
The Safety Factor Challenge takes children through a number of scenarios and asks what they would do in each – such as if a dog is in a child’s way and eating its dinner, the game then asks the child what they should do.
Here it is not unusual for children to think that moving the dog is a good idea; however the game shows the possible negative reaction a child could get if they chose this option and instead are advised to wait for the dog to finish its food undisturbed.
HSCIC has revealed that of the 6,740 admissions to hospital for dog strike and bite injuries, 1,160 involved a child under the age of 10.
The Kennel Club believes that with better communication with children about appropriate behaviour around dogs, as well as parents themselves knowing how to best interact with dogs, canine-related hospital admission figures could be dramatically reduced.
Dog owners should also ensure that their pets are as well trained and socialised as possible, and have met and interacted with a range of people of different ages as a puppy to help minimise the chance of any incidents occurring.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “These incidents, whether it be a child falling over the family pet and injuring themselves, or a child being nipped by an unfamiliar dog, are alarming but largely avoidable with the right precautions.
“Dogs are a huge part of our lives in Britain and children are naturally curious and excited to be around them, so it is crucial that they are taught from an early age how best to interact with them.
“As we head towards summer, more and more dog owners will be out walking their pets for longer, so now is the perfect opportunity to sit down with your child and speak to them about dog safety, and using the tips and game available through the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Scheme, have some fun at the same time.”
The Safe And Sound Scheme is available online by visiting www.safetyarounddogs.org.uk.