Vet nurses are to teach school children how to recognise the subtle body language in dogs that often precedes an attack.

PDSA CEVN Kiera Lawthers leads a school workshop.

In a new initiative, vet charity PDSA is launching BeDogSafe workshops which, thanks to £550,000 funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, will be available free of charge from September 2015 for schools and community groups.

PDSA has reached more than 150,000 children through its workshops between 2010 and 2014, and this new dog safety element has been developed in response to growing concerns about the increase in dog bite incidents involving children.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show children under nine are more likely to be admitted to hospital due to dog injuries than any other age group.

PDSA education programme manager Rachel Sutherland said: “Dog bites are still seen far too frequently and, sadly, this can have horrific, sometimes even fatal, consequences. At PDSA we believe prevention is vital and we are committed to tackling this issue head on.

“In addition to educating dog owners, we want to help children to recognise the subtle body language that can precede a bite incident and understand how to react appropriately.”

The workshops will be delivered by PDSA’s team of community and education veterinary nurses (CEVNs) – six specially-trained staff who travel the length and breadth of the country sharing their expertise, in both schools and communities.

The BeDogSafe sessions will cover understanding dogs’ body language, respecting dogs’ space, key “dos and don’ts” around dogs, and how children can protect themselves if they are scared by a dog’s behaviour.

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