Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust launches nationwide ‘Be Dog Smart’ education campaign

Dogs Trust

Picture Credit: Barry Cronin /

Pulling his tail, sitting on him, disturbing his sleep and kissing his nose are just some of the antagonising ways children act around dogs according to a new survey recently released by Dogs Trust.

The charity is urging parents to never leave a child alone with any dog as part of its ground breaking Be Dog Smart dog safety campaign launch.

A recent study commissioned by Dogs Trust has revealed some startling statistics about our understanding of dogs’ behaviour and how we allow our children to interact with dogs. 12% of Irish parents would leave a child of 5 or younger alone with a dog.

– 40% of Irish parents would leave a child under 11 or younger alone with a dog
– A quarter of Irish adults have let a child approach a dog they did not know
– One in 3 parents have seen their child kiss a dog on the nose
– Whilst 82% of Irish parents say they teach their child how to behave around a dog, over 96% don’t know there are 21+ signs that a dog may be feeling uncomfortable or stressed

With these worrying statistics in mind, Dogs Trust today launched their Be Dog Smart campaign, a nationwide free education program to teach all family members how to stay safe around dogs whether in the home or out and about.

Suzie Carley, Executive Director of Dogs Trust said:

“With over 30% of households owning a pet dog, it is likely that children will come into contact with dogs regularly. Whilst being around dogs can have so many wonderful benefits; it is vital children learn how to approach and interact with a dog safely.”

Last year our Education Team carried out over 1,800 workshops teaching just over 56,000 children about responsible dog ownership; this year as part of our new Be Dog Smart campaign we plan to increase this figure by 50%. Our Education and Community Officers will be delivering free Be Dog Smart Workshops, designed to keep children safe both at home and in the community in a variety of locations such as, libraries, community centres, antenatal classes and Montessori schools across the country. The interactive workshops will be aimed at anyone who has responsibility for children such as; parents, teachers, grandparents, child-minders, foster carers as well as the children themselves.

Fiona Gregan, Education and Community Manager at Dogs Trust explains;

“We wanted to keep the Be Dog Smart campaign message simple: Paws; Think; Stay Safe. The campaign uses a Be Dog Smart Safety Code which mirrors a traffic light system to teach adults and children how to stay safe with dogs. We hope that our guidance will become as much a part of a child’s education as road safety awareness.”

The Dogs Trust ‘Be Dog Smart’ top tips:-

Disturb a dog while they’re eating or drinking
Disturb a dog while they’re in their beds
Approach a dog who isn’t with their owner
Tease a dog, even if you think it’s only fun.

Move calmly and quietly around dogs
If you’re uncomfortable around a dog, do the “x factor”.
Remember, you can never know how a dog is feeling.

Ask the owner for permission before you pet their dog
Let the dog sniff your safehand before you rub them
Walk your dog with an adult
Treat dogs with respect
Ensure that a child is supervised when a dog is present.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Be Dog Smart Safe Code or would like to arrange a Be Dog Smart workshop in your school, library or community centre, visit