Don’t hug the dog! And other things children should know…

13th Aug, 2019

Article and photographs by supplied by Dogtown SA

Dog bites can be avoided, or at the very least the number of occurrences can be reduced, with this safety programme being offered to local schools by Dogtown SA (, a rehabilitation centre for misunderstood dogs based in Hennops River, Gauteng.

Dog bite dangers

Did you know that 50% of children will experience a dog bite by the time they are 12 years old? Or that 77% of all dog bites that happen are caused by a family dog or a friend’s dog?

Teaching children how to behave responsibly around the dogs they spend time with is critically important to avoid unnecessary injury and trauma. While most bite prevention programmes focus on what to do when a stray or aggressive dog approaches a child, the Dog Stars programme is a simple and fun programme that focuses on teaching kids how to really respect the dogs they already know.

Singing for safety

Developed by, Dog Stars presents a new approach to dog safety. Just 30 – 40 minutes long, the programme uses games and music videos with catchy lyrics to get the message across. Your kids will be singing about dog safety long after the workshop is over!

Gordon Banks, Dogtown’s behaviourist, will bring fun and energy into educating primary school-aged children about the right way to behave around dogs.

Dog Stars is designed to increase appropriate child-dog interactions that decrease the amount of stress dogs can feel when around children. A less stressed dog = fewer bites.

Actions count

“The programme is simple but really comprehensive – and it’s very entertaining for the kids,” says Gordon. “They get to watch videos and play games that help them understand dogs, and then take home colourful, interactive handouts to help educate their parents too.”

“We’re thrilled to have created something ‘out of the box’ that speaks to kids in a way they find exciting and can truly understand. The key is to teach kids that their actions count and that they never want to put a dog in a position where he feels he needs to protect himself,” say Hatley & Schuurmans, founders of The Family Dog.

The Family Dog is an American-based dog training company for the whole family. Their mission is to teach families and children everywhere how to live happily and safely with dogs.

About Dogtown SA

Dogtown SA is a sanctuary for dogs situated in the mountains near the Hennops River in Gauteng. The dedicated team of behaviourists and caregivers provides care for dogs who have lost their families or been rescued from dire situations. The dogs are given individual care and attention whilst they wait for their forever homes. There are many wonderful dogs at Dogtown SA who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves homeless and often in need of care and rehabilitation.

For more information about this Dog Stars programme, email, call 076 044 1976, visit or follow them on Facebook