Over the last number of years, there have been a large number of publicised deaths and injuries to children caused by dog bites. Most people are quick to blame the dog, however we should also be aware that there is a serious need for education around how children interact with dogs. Many of the ways in which children like to interact with dogs, is unnatural to a dog and quite often the signals and body language the dog is showing goes unnoticed, until the dog has no option but to snap.
In 2012, 249 people were hospitalised in Ireland from dog bites. 101 of these were children under the age of 9 years. 22 children between the ages of 10 and 19 years of age were also hospitalised due to dog bites. The actual number of people bitten by dogs is much higher then the figures above, mostly due to the fact that these figures only show people who were actually hospitalised due to dog bites. This doesn’t cover the number of children bitten by dogs who didn’t break the skin, or who only received minor damage and were not brought to the hospital.
The MADRAÍ programme was established in order to help educate both children and their parents/caregivers about the proper way to safely interact with dogs. It shows them the right way to approach an unfamiliar dog, as well the correct way to interact with familiar dogs. (Most dog bites in children come from familiar dogs such as those of a family member or friend). It also shows children that dogs don’t like to be hugged (this often results in bites to the face and neck), but shows children an appropriate way to show the dog affection, which he will love!!!
The programme also covers the Be A Tree programme which teaches people how to be safe if a dog comes too close and makes the child feel uncomfortable. Learning to Be A Tree will ensure that the person becomes uninteresting to the dog and will result in the dog leaving.
Our programme has different presentations that vary depending on the age of the people that the presentation is aimed at. The a basic one, Level 1, is suitable for children in primary school. Level 2, is suitable for secondary school children and teenagers. Level 3 is suitable for adults.
We also have a special programme aimed at parents and caregivers who own a dog in addition to having children. It focuses on recognising stress in their own dog and how to prevent bites around the home.
This programme is not only for children. We offer an education programme for people who regularly encounter dogs in their jobs, such as postal workers, delivery drivers etc. This programme focuses on prevention rather than defence and rather than defence and shows people how to recognise signs of stress in dogs, helping them to avoid situations where a dog may feel threatened.
The programme itself involves a visit to your school or club with one or more of our calm dogs where we talk to the children, educating them on why dogs may bite, signs to watch out for, along with some fun interactive exercises too!
We show them the right way to approach an unfamiliar dog, as well the correct way to interact with familiar dogs.
Once the children have learned how to interact with dogs properly (in a respectful manner!), they can try out their new found skills with our dogs!!!
At the end, each child will receive a badge stating that they took part in the MADRAI Programme, along with a certificate with their name on it.
The cost of the programme is €5 per child, which includes their badge and certificate, along with a donation of half the total amount to a local animal rescue of your choice