Bite Prevention: The Blue Dog Project

by | Campaigns |

Thanks to all our volunteers!

At the Ontario SPCA’s annual Educational Conference, The Blue Dog Project was introduced to the group. This campaign is to educate kids, parents and caregivers about dog-bite prevention, particularly in young children.

The Facts

  • 1% of the population are victims of dog bites
  • Children are twice as likely to be bitten
  • Younger children are typically bitten on the hands, face, neck or torso
  • Consequences tend to be long-term psychological effects or immediately life-threatening
  • The average age of a young bite victim is five years old
  • Bites happen in the own home

85% of bites in young children are triggered by:

  • Inappropriate playing with dog
  • Inappropriate petting of dog
  • Approaching while sleeping
  • Approaching while eating
  • No active adult supervision during the above encounters

The Blue Dog Project originated in Europe to educate children younger than eight years old. The lessons are presented to children through interactive scenes, where a child is engaging in scenes that involve the big blue dog. The scenes are roughly animated, and were created by graphic artists based on a collaboration of input from paediatricians, child education specialists and other related professionals.

The blue dog in the scenes has a large face, and his teeth are always shown to illustrate that he could potentially be in a good or bad mood (children often incorrectly perceive that teeth baring is an accurate indicator of the dog’s mood). Children often confuse the body language of a friendly or fearful/aggressive dog, which can trigger a negative encounter.

The 16 risk scenes present a variety of common dog/child interactions, where the child has to watch the scene and then decide what the child in the situation should do. The only two options are to continue the action or no interaction (leave the game, go call a parent, etc.) If the child has selected the wrong answer, a buzzer sounds and the scene is repeated so the child can try again. When the correct answer is selected, the scene continues to its conclusion.

Parents are a large influence in lesson retention, and children whose parents reviewed the lessons with them during the scenes and then later on were able to recall the correct answers on how interact with their pet. Parents need to lead by example and reinforce correct behaviour in the home, and help their children recognize signs of aggression.

Scale of Aggression

(Ascending to most aggressive)

  • Biting
  • Snapping
  • Growling
  • Stiffen up, stare, sneeze
  • Lying down
  • Crouched, tail under
  • Creeping, ears back
  • Walking away
  • Turning the body away, sitting, pawing
  • Turning the head away
  • Yawning, blinking, nose licking

To learn more about the Blue Dog Project, click here to visit their website or talk to your child’s teacher about implementing the program in your local elementary school.