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October 2020

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The Be a Tree Teacher Kit is for...

  • schools/teachers who want to deliver a bite prevention program themselves

  • humane educators for in-house or community outreach use

  • obedience trainers who want to educate their clients about safety around dogs

  • dog industry professionals who want to offer bite prevention programming to local schools or community groups

  • pet industry retailers who want to provide a community service and promote their business at the same time.

Contents of Be a Tree Teacher Kit

  • A set of 9 11"x17" photographs of dogs showing various body language signals. Text of script printed on the reverse to prompt the presenter.

  • A set of 5 "tools" photos - also 11"x17". These are tools for kids to put in their toolbox (in their head) - to help keep them safe. Text of script printed on the reverse.

  • A snarly dog photo - 11"x17" - this is held up by a helper at random and everyone must stand up and "be a tree"

  • A spinner - 10" x 10" - used after the first 15 minutes of instruction - the results of the spin govern the rest of the program.

  • Program script

  • 4 Simon Says cards

  • 4 Scenario cards

  • Handout for photocopying

  • Follow up activities

  • Program evaluation form - for photocopying

  • CD Video showing a sample delivery of the presentation

  • Tote bag for carrying and storing the kit

  • La "trousse d'enseignement" a été traduite en français.  Veuillez contacter la coordonnatrice pour le Québec, Sherri Utter, afin d'obtenir des informations au sujet du programme "Fais l'Arbre".

Use the spinner for activities after the teaching part of the session...

Snarly Dog - everyone be a tree

Panting Dog - everyone be a happy dog

Toolbox - volunteers act out a scenario - audience shouts out which tool to use

Simon Says - everyone plays Simon Says

Hats off to the best educational package I have seen in years and a great public service that goes a long way to getting the message out about dog bite prevention and working toward eliminating dog bites to our children. 

Lisa Grey - Canine Behavior Consultant and Specialist; Bite Prevention Educator with BCSPCA (former); Senior Trainer - Canines with a Cause; Senior Instructor - Adolescents at Risk and Canines Ontario; Owner Natural Bond Canine Consultants, Ontario, Canada

I have reviewed the materials from the Be a Tree program and will be utilizing this material when teaching the second graders of Longmont, Colorado. The materials provided are great tools in teaching animal safety.

Robin Breffle, Community Service Office, Animal Control, Longmont Police Department, Longmont, Colorado

My experience as a classroom teacher of 35 years taught me that children learn by doing, practicing and playing. The program "Be a Tree" is a great teaching tool. Lots of role playing and repetition until the children have a patterned response to an aggressive dog. Fast paced and fun.

Sherri Utter, Retired Elementary School Teacher; Animatch Volunteer, Quebec, Canada

As a Canine Behavior Consultant and Special Education Teacher, I am very impressed with the Be a Tree program. This fun and interactive program involves kids every step of the way as they learn the tools to make safe choices around familiar and unfamiliar dogs. I am impressed when I return to the classes several weeks later and the kids still remember all of the tools and can tell me some things that dogs do that indicate they may be stressed. This program empowers kids to make better choices through awareness and education. The Be a Tree teacher's kit comes with beautiful clear poster-sized photos that are helpful for teaching children and adults alike. The easy-to-follow script is conveniently printed on the back of each poster to help the presenter stay on track and be at ease during their presentation. This really helps to minimize tangents and stay focused on the key points of the presentation.

Jennifer Shryock, Canine Behavior Consultant, Creator of Dogs & Storks Workshop, Cary, North Carolina

The Be a Tree program is a dog bite prevention seminar program for school age children. This program focuses on fun and interactive activities to teach children how to read dog body language and how to act safely around their own dog and strange dogs.

The main message from the presentation is "Be a Tree" if strange dog comes near or any dog is too frisky or is making you uncomfortable.

The Be a Tree program is supported by a teacher kit that presenters use to ensure a consistent and accurate presentation. The kit and the program have been developed and reviewed by experts. Click here to find out about the teacher kit and see what the experts have to say.

I liked it when your mom came in to show the class how to behave with dogs because now I am OK around them!

I thought it was Awesome when your mom came in for that be a tree thing now I am not so afraid of big dogs.

Dogs give lots of clues about how they are feeling if we only know what to look for. You can have lots of fun being a dog detective and looking for clues about how a dog might be feeling.

Dogs have feelings and they can be happy, sad, worried, wanting to play or wanting to be left alone, just like you do. It is never a good idea to go up to a strange dog, so no matter how happy or friendly a strange dog seems, just ignore him and be a tree if he comes close or bothers you.

You probably have friends or family with dogs and maybe you even have a dog of your own. Even these dogs that you know well may not want to play or be petted sometimes. You can tell how the dog is feeling by his body language. If a dog is happy then he may want to meet you or interact with you, if he is not feeling happy, then he would rather be left him alone.

Sometimes dogs want to be petted and sometimes they don't. You might like to have a good night cuddle with a parent, but you certainly wouldn't want your parent to run out onto the soccer field or the dance class in the middle of a practice and give you a big hug, would you? There is a time and a place for interacting with dogs as well. They don't like to get hugs and kisses, but sometimes they want to sit and be petted or to play and sometimes they don't.

Here are some photos that show the same dog presenting 2 different emotions, with arrows pointing to the body part clues that show whether he is happy and relaxed or not. A dog that is happy and panting and wagging his tail may want to interact with you. If he closes his mouth and looks serious as you approach, then he has changed his mind. It is better to leave him alone and let him come to you if he decides he wants to be near you. Remember, we are talking about dogs that you know. Be sure a parent is around to supervise and give permission to approach the dog. Ignore strange dogs even if they do seem friendly.

You may notice that sometimes the arrow points to a tight or loose leash rather than a body part. A tight leash tells you that the dog is not relaxed. Stay away from a dog on a tight leash!

The most important clue is the mouth. If the dog is panting and looks happy, then he is most likely feeling relaxed. If he looks worried or interested in something and his mouth is closed then he is not relaxed and happy and he does not want you to touch or play with him right now.

There are more photos to look at which compare the same dog showing different emotions. The photos with the red borders are dogs that want to be left alone. See if you can see the clues that tell why the photo has a red border or a green border.

Do you want to find out more about being a Dog Detective and try out some of the things you have learned? Visit with real-life dog detective, 7-year old Kayleigh and find out what she has to tell you. Check back every month or so for updates.

For more information about dog body language and more advanced information about how dogs communicate with all their body parts click here and ask your parents to go over this information with you.

One of the important aspects of the Be a Tree program is its focus on teaching children to read dog body language. This knowledge empowers them to make good decisions and keep themselves safe around dogs. Children who are afraid of dogs and run away screaming are the ones most likely to get bitten since this behavior can trigger a dog’s instinct to chase. When children understand that dogs give signs to indicate whether they want to meet you or not, this lessens their fear and gives them the tools they need to decide on the best course of action. They learn that being a tree is an option with any dog and that they can do something to be in control of the situation.

Doggone Safe has produced a video slide show the illustrate the different ways dogs communicate with their bodies. This shows many dogs showing contrasting emotions. Watch it yourself before showing it to your students, since there is scene with a barking dog that may be frightening to children with a fear of dogs.