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Here is how to be a tree:


Here's why to be a tree:

Trees are boring to dogs. Be a Tree and a dog will just sniff and then go away. When was the last time you saw a dog chasing a tree?

Be a tree in any of these situations:

  • A strange dog comes near you (even if he seems friendly).
  • Any dog is making you feel uncomfortable, worried or scared.
  • A dog is chasing you.
  • Your own or a friend's dog is acting too frisky or excited.

Count in your head to the highest number you know and then start back at 1 again until the dog goes away or help comes.

Most dogs do not intend to scare or bite people, but they do like to investigate new people. Most dogs will chase a person who runs and will get more and more excited the more the person runs. Shouting or screaming is also exciting to dogs and can frighten some dogs. Being still and quiet is the best way to show a dog that you mean no harm and that you are not going to play with him or threaten him.

You may have heard about other ways to be a tree, that involve tucking your hands under your arms, folding your hands across your chest, placing your hands at your throat or even in your pocket. Doggone Safe does not recommend any of these, because sometimes kid's hands smell yummy to dogs and raising your hands may cause the dog to be interested in checking them out because you moved them and/or you still have traces of lunch on them. Folding your hands keeps them still and if the dog does want to sniff or lick them he won't need to jump on you to do it. He will soon tire of this if you stay still and then he will wander off.

You may also have heard that you should turn your back on a dog who may be planning to jump on you. This may lead to you turning more and more while the dog gets more and more excited about trying to jump on you or to get in front of you. This is strange behavior to a dog and he could become more, rather than less interested in you if you play a turning away game with him. Standing still is always the best thing to do if you want a dog to go away.

If a dog does happen to jump, just stand still until he gives up. If he knocks you over, curl up on your tummy with your hands over the back of your neck and be still like a rock until he goes away.

Here is an example of what can happen if you raise your hands rather than keeping them low and still:

Here's how to practice being a tree:

If you have a dog, be a tree if he comes over to you and have your parent give him a treat when he moves away from you. Soon the dog will learn that when you are a tree, you will not be playing with him. If he ever does get too frisky, you can be a tree to show him that you do not want to play right now.

If you have friends, brothers or sisters or adults that will play with you, one of you can pretend to be a dog and the other can be a tree to get the dog to go away.

If you have a stuffed dog, another person can move the dog and you can be a tree to get the dog to go away.

If the Be a Tree program comes to your school you will get practice being a tree.

If you have the Doggone Crazy! board game you will get lots of practice being a tree while having fun learning about dog body language and how to act safely around 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.