Companion animal survival

Grades 4-6

Simulation activity 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 puppy)

Set up

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 in.

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.


Divide 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 the shelter.

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 euthanize dogs.


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?

Bite Not

Grades k-6

Bite Prevention 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 the attack.


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.

Set up

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 responsible behavior.


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 an animal?
  • 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?

Bite Prevention Outline

Approaching any animal

  • Remain quiet
  • Ask the owner or handler if you may approach the animal
  • Move slowly
  • Avoid staring the animal in the face

When not to pet a dog

  • 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 or dogs

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

If attacked

  • Do not run or scream
  • Stand still with arms to your sides
  • 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 animals

  • Avoid going near the animal or any young
  • Keep others away from the animal
  • Tell an adult where the animal is and how it was behaving

Training Ruff

Grades 4 – 5

Training Simulation Activity


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.

Set up

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.

Training Discussion Questions

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 reinforcement training?
  • What are some benefits of negative reinforcement training?
  • 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?

Beane Educational Services


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