Personal safety and responsibility lessons are a huge parent of any counselor's curriculum.
"Since dogs are a big part of our society, the American Kennel Club® believes every child should be taught how to behave safely around them. From the family’s own to the neighbor’s dog; from
the dog running loose in a park to one sitting in its owner’s car, dogs provide us with clues on
their disposition or mood. Understanding those clues or body language will help children avoid dangerous situations." (American Kennel Club) So, last year I got the idea to include dog safety into my program, and now it's become a must-have lesson!
When I got the idea I wasn't even sure where to start, but a friend of mine happens to work at the Murfreesboro Kennel Club, and shared the contact information of a local therapy dog trainer. A phone call later we had a parent workshop scheduled. It turned out to be the second most popular workshop I offered last year.
She was sweet enough to bring two of her dogs so the kids got a real hands-on experience. We discussed how to approach dogs, appropriate behavior around dogs, and how to be a good dog owner.
I know my kids are always begging their parents for an adorable pup, so many of our families came to get the scoop on what it takes to be a dog owner and the kids heard and saw first hand the commitment it takes.
I also visited the American Kennel Club website. They host a Responsible Dog Ownership Day every September, so guess when our parent workshop was! They have a full list of free resources that you can download and order. You know I got them all! The parents that came to the workshop left with handfuls of brochures, activities, book marks, and workbooks.
They also have lesson plans and educational kits! I mean can you get any better than that. So in September I visited my 1st-3rd grades where we discussed dog safety. First, we watched a very entertaining video, "The Dog Listener," which discussed how to approach stray dogs and appropriate ways to behave around different dogs.
The student's really enjoyed this video and afterwards we practiced the methods, such as 'make like a tree,' that were discussed in the video.
We then completed the safety activity sheets together on the SmartBoard. The "Dog Listener" workbook is yet another free PDF available thanks to the AKC. When the students were all done (and if they participated and behaved) they became official "Dog Listeners" complete with this adorable certificate they took home to share with their families.
It was a super fun lesson to teach, and I swear to you less than three days after finishing my 'rounds' teaching this lesson a stray dog wandered onto the playground. It was better than any post-test I could have given! The kids swarmed me questioning and accusing me of planting the dog to test them, but shear coincidence was at play. Of course the students that remembered what to do found me as soon as possible to brag on their success and to tell on the majority of the students that ran, screamed, and forgot everything I taught in the moment. This friends is why I will be doing this lesson year after year.
I also put copies of the resources and video's in our parent library for checkout. Every time a parent or student says "we are thinking of getting a family dog" I hand them the information!