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Helping children to stay safe around dogs

Tuesday, 26 May, 2015
Helping children to stay safe around dogs

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is helping children in Northumberland to stay safe around dogs.

In the first of a series of sessions, children at Eastlea Primary School in Cramlington learned about how to stay safe and enjoy being with dogs.

The sessions were organised by accident prevention advisers from the trust’s health improvement team following a number of incidents in in the county where young children were bitten by dogs.

The accident prevention team provides information, advice and support on a range of subjects to reduce accidental injuries to children and young people across Northumberland.

Health improvement practitioner Janette Wood said: “As we approach the summer holidays, these sessions are a fun opportunity for children to enjoy being around dogs and learn how to stay safe.

“Last year in Northumberland 17 children under five attended A&E departments as a result of injuries they received from dog bites. That is 17 children too many so we want to help children to enjoy being around dogs in a safe way.”

During the sessions, dog trainer Jacquie Hall and her highly trained German Shepherd dog Cleo showed children how to behave around dogs, how to tell whether a dog is feeling friendly, and what to do if they are approached by a strange dog.

Children aged 5-11 took part in the sessions with Eastlea head teacher Emma Beeston.

She said: “Most children love spending time with animals and they can gain a lot of benefit from doing so.

“The aim of these sessions is to give children positive messages about dogs in a fun way, to help them to stay safe and enjoy themselves. This fits perfectly with our school science week which focuses on animals including humans.”

Jacquie, from the Northumberland Canine Centre in Felton, has been training dogs and instructing for more than 35 years and regularly competes in working dog trials. She is a member of the Canine Behaviour Institute and a senior instructor with the North Northumberland Dog Training Club.

Jacquie said: “Most dogs are friendly with children but we cannot be complacent, so these sessions aim to help children to recognise when a dog is not feeling friendly, and to learn the best way to behave around dogs.”

Jacquie’s advice to children includes always asking permission before stroking a dog, and never stroke a dog when the owner is not present.