Growing up we always had pet dogs and I was taught from a very early age about the do’s and don’t’s when it comes to approaching unfamiliar ones. I’ve never owned a dog since leaving home, but that didn’t stop me instilling my older two girls with the same lessons I learnt all those years ago which have stood them in good stead and allowed them to successfully interact with dogs along the way.
Unfortunately, before I had the opportunity to impart this valuable knowledge to Leo he had a bad experience whilst at the park. An owner had allowed their dog off the lead within the fenced play area and it had bounded over to Leo, practically knocking him off his feet and putting it’s face right up to his. Being only a toddler at the time Leo didn’t understand what thankfully was a dog just being over friendly and was extremely distressed by the encounter.
As a result Leo is extremely frightened and nervous when seeing a dog approaching even at a great distance despite it being a couple of years on. We have come across some wonderful owners along the way who have talked to Leo about their animals and even encouraged him to interact with them – one in particular who allowed him to play fetch which really help bolster his confidence.
Despite this he is still understandably nervous around dogs which is something we will continue to try to remedy in small steps. I was recently made aware of a series of books especially designed to help teach younger children about dogs behaviours and how to act around them. Thinking this sounded ideal to help Leo gain confidence I contacted author Anna Crichton who kindly offered to send us a her first book Zara DogDog On The School Run.
Inspired by Anna’s own dog, the books are especially designed to teach children how to behave around dogs and how to recognise their behaviour with each depicting a different lesson using a fun to read, engaging story. This is the first book in the series and shows Zara DogDog on the walk to school with her children Issac and Amelia. After the initial excitement of the walk poor Zara DogDog becomes overwhelmed and frightened by the crowds of children at the school and begins to growl when she is approached. Luckily Issac recognises Zara DogDog’s body language and explains to his friends how to react, making the school run a much more enjoyable experience thereafter.
This book is perfectly pitched at it’s target audience of children aged 3-6 ,with short easy to understand sentences and stunning illustrations by Siobhan Barlow that depict Zara DogDog’s emotions realistically. Being based on the school run it was something that Leo could relate to easily and the content allowed us to talk at length about his fears as well as how he should behave around dogs we encounter in the future. The stages of Zara DogDog’s behaviour are set out in a clear step by step way and repeated again at the end of the book as a reminder, ideal for children to visually see and understand. The message this story offers is so important and not something I have seen available anywhere else. It would be ideal to share in a pre-school or classroom setting as well as in the home environment and even comes with suggestions about how to begin a discussion about it’s content.
I love the concept of this new series and I’m sure by re-reading regularly this book it will aid Leo’s confidence when we encounter dogs out and about. I will certainly be looking out for the next release to share with him and also signing up for the Zara DogDog Club Newsletter which is designed to further engage children with regards to dog welfare and responsible ownership.
Zara DogDog On The School Run is available to purchase now from The Zara DogDog Club Website where you can find out more about this brand new series.