Monday, 27 February 2012

How to teach … responsible dog ownership

The Guardian Teacher Network has a wealth of resources from Dogs Trust, Battersea and others for teaching children how to behave safely around dogs and how to look after them properly

Cha Cha at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London: Battersea has produced resources to help teachers educate children about dogs. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Caring for animals is a great way for young people to learn about commitment and responsibility. Knowing how to behave around animals – especially dogs – also has an important role to play in keeping children safe. This week the Guardian Teacher Network is highlighting a range of resources about responsible dog ownership.

Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, has created a variety of materials that span all age ranges. Paws to Learn is a pre-school resource that teaches children the importance of behaving safely and kindly around dogs. The resource includes an activity sheet and templates for puppets so that children can role-play a variety of scenarios involving dogs. There is a certificate to track children's learning and a poster that illustrates some key principles of dog safety.

Younger pupils will also enjoy the Dogs Trust Character Booklet, which contains illustrations for colouring in, cutting out, or using for a display.

For primary pupils, Dogs Trust has created a citizenship resource that explores issues of animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. Activities include describing a day in the life of a well-cared-for dog and identifying harmful behaviour towards dogs. The resource can be adapted for use with pupils aged 5-7 or 7-11 and includes links to the curricula of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For secondary pupils, the Dogs Trust citizenship resource uses peer-led learning to help groups of pupils to prepare and deliver an assembly, workshop or display about the work of Dogs Trust and the importance of responsible dog ownership. Other useful resources created by the charity include leaflets about staying safe around dogs and owning a dog, and a poster outlining the responsibilities of looking after a dog.

Take the lead with Batt and Zee is an online film created by the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for use in schools. It was commissioned in response to a worrying increase in the number of dog attacks in the UK and is aimed at five- to 11-year-olds – the age group most at risk of a dog attack. It includes information to help children better understand dogs so that they are not accidentally hurt or frightened by them.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has also created a selection of fun activities about safety around dogs. These include word searches, crosswords and colouring sheets suitable for pupils aged five to 11. There are also art activities – make fingerprint cats and dogs; drawing cats and dogs, recipes for dog and cat treats, and a quiz about safety around dogs. It covers topics such as: how you should approach a dog, what to do if you see a stray dog and how to tell if a dog is angry.

Article by  for The Guardian

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