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A pilot study to evaluate an elementary school-based dog bite prevention program

By I. B. Spiegel

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The primary objective of this program evaluation was to determine if a school-based education program is an effective means of informing elementary school-aged children enrolled in second through fourth grades about dog bite safety - the awareness of proper behavior when in the company of dogs to prevent bites, injuries, or fatalities. The pilot program, featuring written materials and a video, was developed to teach dog bite safety, and questionnaires were designed to assess the program. Students (n=486) from seven schools from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, USA participated. Pre- and post-program questionnaires assessed students' interactions, encounters, and relationships with dogs, as well as use of program materials, and changes in understanding about dog behavior, body language, and bite avoidance. The program results appeared to be highly effective in helping children understand how to prevent or avoid potentially threatening situations involving dogs. The program was most effective at teaching children that: (1) neighborhood and family dogs are most likely to cause dog bite-related injuries, (2) they should never run away from a dog, and (3) they should never touch a dog that is sleeping or eating. For most groups, there was also an increased level of recognition of canine body language. Almost half of the participants indicated that they had been bitten in the past, and over 80% knew the attacking dog. Finally, the findings suggest that an age-appropriate dog bite safety program delivered in an elementary school setting can be effective in producing awareness about preventing dog bite-related injuries. Future investigations should concentrate on monitoring actual changes in child behavior.

Date 2000
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 164-173
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279300786999789
Language English
Author Address Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.ispiegel@hotmail.com
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Awareness
  4. Bites and stings
  5. Children
  6. Developed countries
  7. Diseases
  8. Dogs
  9. Extension
  10. Information dissemination
  11. Mammals
  12. Maryland
  13. North America
  14. OECD countries
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Pets and companion animals
  17. Primates
  18. surveys
  19. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed