addressing overpopulation of companion animals
Students will learn the rate at which
pet population gets out of hand. They will understand limiting factors
which help keep wildlife within natural limits. Students will interact
with one another and discover the pressures of limited resources.
Students will learn the difference between natural and human means
to control pet population.
30 students for 1-1.5 hours including
frontloading, instructions, debriefing
Classroom with individual desks or
large area with solid markers
20 blue dog cards (male)
20 yellow dog cards (female)
60 blue/green dog cards (male puppy)
60 yellow/green dog cards (female
Each desk represents
a home that a maximum of two dogs can live in. A separate location
in the room represents the animal shelter where dogs go when they
have poor behavior, are unwanted, or can not find a house to live
When students are told
to "Go home!" they must find a house to live in. If no
house is available they must go to the shelter.
When students are told
to "Go play!" they must find another dog to visit with.
If the dogs are the same gender nothing happens. If the dogs are
of different gender then they must get two puppy cards.
Students who have puppy
cards when told to "Go home!" must also place their puppies.
class evenly by giving them blue and yellow dog cards
Have students stand around
the room and give commands. As students move around the room look
for "Lost dogs" and "Problem dogs" – they must
be taken to the shelter. Make sure puppies are placed or sent to
During the activity introduce
disease (cancer, heart worm), accidents (ingesting poison, auto
accidents), and old age as means of reducing the population.
Set a maximum number
of kennels for the shelter. Once that maximum is reached begin to
Discuss realities and
problems with this simulation. How would the number of dogs ended
up if the activity was played out for twice as long? Five years?
from Dogs and other Animals
Every year it is estimated
that between 4 – 5 million people are bit by dogs. Of these bites
some are nips, others are major attacks, and over half the bites
occur on children. By educating children on how to behave around
all animals, many of these attacks can be prevented. When they do
occur, children can know how to respond to reduce the severity of
Have students experience
how to approach various animals with an emphasis on dogs. Students
will learn tips on how to avoid being attacked and what to do if
they are attacked.
All size groups for 30
– 45 minutes in a classroom or auditorium setting.
Educational service animal
may be used in addition to a variety of age appropriate puppet animals
including, fish, small mammals (guinea pig), wild animals, etc.
Engage students in an
interactive conversation about meeting animals in their homes, at
a friend’s house, on the streets, and in the wild. Explain the use
of animals and puppets in the presentation and requirements for
Attached is an outline
illustrating common recommendations for preventing animal bites.
While presenting the lesson please select information and examples
that are age appropriate. Roll playing certain scenarios provides
an excellent opportunity for students to experience what to do to
avoid and / or survive an attack. Start roll playing with small
stuffed animals such as fish, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Next, move
into larger animals such as dogs and cats, using educational service
animals if available. Finally, use stuffed animals to role play
encounters with sick or injured wild animals, including raccoons,
squirrels, opossums, and birds.
Take time to recap bite
prevention techniques by asking the following questions…
- When should you not approach
- If you wish to pet a dog who
is with its owner, what steps should you take?
- What should you do if you are
confronted by a dog acting aggressively?
- If you find sick or injured wildlife,
what should you do?
Approaching any animal
- Remain quiet
- Ask the owner or handler if you
may approach the animal
- Move slowly
- Avoid staring the animal in the
When not to pet a
- When a dog is in their own yard,
on their bed, in their crate or in a car
- When a dog is playing with a
toy or eating
- When a dog is with other puppies
How to pet a dog
- Ask owner if you may say "hello"
- Approach dog quietly and slowly
- Do not stare at the dog
- Hold a closed hand out below
the level of the dogs head
- Allow the dog to come to you
- Let dog smell your hand – this
is their way of getting to know you
- Pet the dog slowly and softly,
while listening to the owner
- Avoid petting the dog on top
of the head
- Do not run or scream
- Stand still with arms to your
- Avoid eye contact and in a low
/ slow voice tell the dog to "go home, go, stay" etc
- If knocked down, curl up in a
ball and lie still, covering ears and neck
- Do not fight back
- Let an adult know you were attacked
Injured or sick wild
- Avoid going near the animal or
- Keep others away from the animal
- Tell an adult where the animal
is and how it was behaving
Grades 4 – 5
The majority of owners
who are unhappy with their pet’s behavior have not taken sufficient
training measures. Untrained dogs often enter into the world of
unwanted or abused dogs living either on the streets, in shelters,
or cast outside on a chain.
Have students understand
the benefits of companion animal training. Emphasize what is involved
in training. Illustrate language barriers confronted when communicating
with a different species. Have students better understand the complexities
involved in training.
12 – 20 students for
45 – 60 minutes. A group too large will loose momentum.
None needed. An educational
service animal may be used for illustration.
Talk to students about
basic training techniques. Ensure students understand the differences
between positive and negative reinforcement (this lesson and Humane
Education Programs encourages the use of positive reinforcement
techniques). Have students speculate on the difficulties involved
in training animals.
After a brief explanation
of the activity, ask for a volunteer student to be the "dog
in training". Provide them with a training bandana or other
prop to differentiate them from other students. Remove this student
from the room.
Select a second student
to be the lead trainer, all others will be assistant trainers. Have
the lead trainer select a behavior they wish to teach. For example
(sit, down, roll over), (heal, wait, come) (over, under, around).
Encourage students to be creative – the behaviors do not need to
be dog specific.
Explain that once the
"dog in training" returns no one may speak. Communication
may only come from physical positioning, hand gestures, clapping,
"Oohs" and "Aahs"! Have the assistants form
a large circle around the trainer and bring in the "dog in
training". Allow the trainer to teach the skill. Repeat activity
with new behaviors and different students. If time allows return
to the original behavior and test retention!
Have a discussion on
the difficulties and benefits of training animals. The attached
discussion questions may prove useful.
As a trainer…
- How did you feel when your dog
did not follow your commands?
- What emotions did you have when
the dog responded to your commands?
- What communication techniques
seemed to work best for you?
- How was this different from training
a real dog?
As a dog in training…
- What were your initial thoughts
standing inside the circle?
- How did you feel when you did
not understand your trainer’s commands?
- What did you want to do when
you could not understand?
- Did you enjoy being punished
or encouraged more?
- What benefits did you have over
a real dog trying to learn the same skill?
As an assistant…
- What training techniques seemed
to work the best?
- Did you ever notice the trainer
or dog getting frustrated?
- How would you choose to train
an animal and why?
For the group…
- What are some benefits of positive
- What are some benefits of negative
- What type of reinforcement do
you prefer when learning a new skill?
- What is it important to understand
when training an animal?
- What are some different types
of animals that receive specific training?