THE Kennel Club has called for greater awareness about child safety around dogs following the release of figures showing that 16% of incidents involving dogs happen to under 10 year olds.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) announced today that under 10’s accounted for the highest rate of admissions per age group for bites and strikes from dogs. The Kennel Club is urging people to communicate with their children about safety around dogs with help from the Kennel Club’s Safe And Sound scheme.

The Safe And Sound scheme has been specially created by experts at the Kennel Club to educate children about the correct behaviour around dogs. As well as teacher’s notes and literature, the scheme includes a fun online game called the Safety Factor Challenge.

The Safety Factor Challenge takes children through a number of scenarios and asks what they would do in each - such as if a dog is in a child’s way and eating its dinner, the game then asks the child what they should do. Here it is not unusual for children to think that moving the dog is a good idea; however the game shows the possible negative reaction a child could get if they chose this option and instead are advised to wait for the dog to finish.

Elaine Quickfall, a home tutor with Gateshead Behaviour Support Service explains: “We take it for granted that our children should know how to behave, but if they have no prior knowledge why would they? Games like this are great as they provide a visual example of the consequences of choosing different actions.”

HSCIC has revealed that of the 6,450 admissions to hospital for dog bite and strike injuries, 1,040 involved a child under the age of 10. The Kennel Club believes that with better communication with children about appropriate behaviour around dogs could dramatically reduce this figure and is calling on all parents to ensure that their children know how to behave around dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Dogs are a big part of our lives and it is likely that every child will come across a dog at some point this year, at home, at a friend’s or just out on the street. During the summer holidays is a great time to sit down with your child and speak to them about dog safety, and using the tips and game available through the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Scheme is a great way to clearly illustrate to your children the best way for them to behave around dogs.”