The Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club (GMBGC) had a special guest during their recent Doggone Safety event, where Club kids learned how to be aware and be safe around dogs in public and general safety towards animals in their community. The event was part of GMBGC’s Speakers Series, a monthly event where members of the organization’s Board of Directors bring in other businesses and organizations to educate Club children on a myriad of different topics.
Tara Gush Lausch, owner of Get Your Wag On Pet Services, LLC, hosted the event to teach kids and parents about safety around pets and other animals. Lausch is the owner of several pet service businesses that include training, photography and house sitting for animals of all sizes. During Doggone Safety children looked at photos and discussed canine body language while acquiring tools to observe whether dogs are safe or unsafe.
Lausch explained the importance of recognizing doggie body language before approaching a dog and its owner. Using photographs to illustrate her points, Lausch pointed out that safe dogs will have their mouth open like they are smiling, a loose body, a low and loose tail wag, bright happy eyes and a relaxed jaw. Unsafe dogs may have their mouth closed with a tense jaw, a tall stiff tail wag, a stiff body, leaning forward or a head turn with the whites of their eyes showing.
“It is important for kids, and adults, to understand canine body language because that is how dogs communicate to us if they are scared or need space,” said Lausch. “We must respect this communication.”
When approached by an unsafe dog, especially with no owner, kids were taught to be a “tree- standing still, eyes closed, very boring, just like a tree so that a scary dog will not want to chase.” Since the natural reaction of many children is to immediately run, Lausch explains that learning to stand like a tree is important to understand at a very young age.
To determine whether a dog that is accompanied by an owner is safe, Club kids were asked to learn several actions that they could place in their tool box: 1) Use your eyes to look at a dog and read their body language to determine if they are safe or dangerous. 2) Use your mouth, to ask permission to pet the dog from the adult you are with and the adult the dog is with. 3) Place you fist out gently for the dog to sniff and see if you are safe. 4) Use your feet to walk away if it is a safe situation such as a dog on a leash, behind a fence or to also walk away if a dog is on a bed, eating, or chewing a favorite toy.
“Kids should always ask permission to approach an unknown dog because not all dogs are comfortable with children or people and it may not be an appropriate or safe dog to pet or it may be a dog in training,” said Lausch.
After their lesson, children were surprised as Hannah, a chocolate lab mix rescue animal, was introduced into the room. Children were encouraged to approach the dog following the tools they had just learned. Lausch displayed the positive body language that Hannah was projecting and placed importance on each child asking her if it was alright to pet the dog and then asking the owner. After placing their fists out for Hannah to smell, each child was able to pet her and in many cases was met with several licks.
“My most enjoyable part of the event was being able to share valuable information with the students that could potentially save them from a potential dog bite,” commented Lausch. “I also enjoyed watching the children’s enthusiasm throughout the program and it was very clear that they had listened well when watching their interactions with Hannah.”
More information about the services that Lausch offers including training, photography and in-house care can be found at http://www.getyourwagondogtraining.com. Tara offers several of her services at local pet boutique Fur-Baby Boutique, Daycare, Sap & Hotel in downtown Milford, DE. For more information on her local training services individuals can visit http://furbabyboutique.com.
The Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club is continuing their Speakers Series this Spring and encourages other businesses and organizations to contact the Club if they would like to be a part of the program. Events on fire safety and financial literacy are scheduled for upcoming sessions. To learn more about the program, individuals are encouraged to contact the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club at 302-422-4453.