dog body language

Dog Body Language Is Taught By The Dog Safe Workplace – A Unique Business

What The Dog Safe Workplace Does

The Dog Safe Workplace works with companies to reduce the risk of dog bites when their workers have to enter onto properties where dogs may be present.

My name is Joanna Clough and I am the Director of The Dog Safe Workplace and a founder of the charity Kids Safe with Dogs.

The Inspiration

I became interested in education around dog bites in 2005 when a dog attacked a young girl in an Auckland Park. The incident left her scarred, the owner prosecuted and the dog euthanised. Everything about the incident was upsetting and for years I wondered what I could do to make a difference.

In 2014 the opportunity arose and we started researching dog bite numbers, locations, age groups, sex, cost both financial and psychological.

Dog Bite Stats

In 2005 ACC reported 4,250 dog bites by 2018 it had increased to 14,379.

Establishing The Customers Needs

We spoke to companies that find dog bites to be a huge Health & Safety risk and many where struggling to understand how to combat the issue. Most organisations that train about dog behaviour are dog trainers. We put together a team of adult educators, canine behaviourists and dog trainers to develop a course that explains why dogs do what they do.

We then looked at what the customer required, what their staff do when they are entering properties. Are they going into the house or just the yard? What are they carrying with them? How long are they going to be on the property? What are they doing while they are on the property? Is it a delivery or will they be there for a prolonged period of time. When we have all of the information we then customise the course to suit their requirements.

Dog Body Language Courses Offered

We offer the training either Face-2-Face or online. The online course has a series of questions that must be answered correctly and once completed they receive a certificate.

Its comprehensive and covers a multitude of topics including
• Warning signs – both obvious and subtle
• Increased agitation
• Pre-entrance signs of dog activity
• Recognising a potentially dangerous situation
• The do’s and do not’s of interaction
• How to remove themselves in the safest manner

The most important thing is that it makes a difference.

Customer Testimonial

Mark Benson from Wells Instrument & Electrical one of our first clients has stated “ We have seen a dramatic decrease in dog bites in the past two years”.

As a dog lover and owner everything we are doing is a win-win. The owners, the companies and the dogs themselves all win when we understand dog body language.

Dog Body Language Tips And Myth Busters You May NOT Be Aware Of

A Wagging Tail

Many of us have been told that this is a sign that the dog is happy. Unfortunately this is NOT always true. Research has shown us the tail wagging only shows that the dog is engaging with something in its environment. They could be engaging in a positive or negative way. You need to look at the whole body not just the tail.

Rolling On Its Back

Again many of us think this is because they want their belly rubbed. Again NOT always true. They are actually telling us that they are scared and small so please don’t hurt me.

Bringing You Their Toy

Yes they are showing you their toy and may want you to play with them. But this is NOT always true and if you go to take the toy or pick up the ball they may try to snatch it back which could result in a bite. Remember that we all train our dogs to different commands so there may be certain rules that need to be followed or commands given when playing with that particular dog.

Always Ask Permission

Before you interact with any strange dog always ask for the owner’s permission – this means ask the owner if you can pat the dog. You do not know the dog; his likes or dislikes. You may be wearing a hat and the dog is scared of hats, carrying an umbrella or he may just not like strangers. If the owner says no, don’t be offended, just move on and ask the next person if you can pat their dog. By asking permission you are also letting the dog know you are there so if you are allowed to pat him he wont get a fright.

Side And Back

Remember where the bitey end of the dog is and stay away from the head and face. Only pat the dog on the side and back. This is especially important with children. If you have a child (or anyone) approaching a dog head on to pat it and the dog does not want to be touched and decides to have a bite, the child’s face is right next to the dogs mouth. The majority of bites to children are on their head and face. If they are standing to the side of the dog to pat its back then if the dog doesn’t like it he can move away. Worse case scenario he may bite the hand but the child’s face is nowhere near the dogs.

Stand Like A Tree

We regularly get people telling us how dogs run up to them and the first reaction if you are scared or don’t like dogs is to run or turn you back and move away. We recommend you stand like a tree. Hold your elbows and look at your feet. Do not move. What you are trying to do is to be as boring as possible to the dog. Any sudden movements or running away make you more exciting. If you run, you may instigate play or pray drive.

I hope what I have written for you today is interesting and helpful.

Contact Details

Please contact me if you have any questions or if you know of an organisation that could use our assistance.

Email: [email protected]


Phone: +64 27 737244

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We recently sold PET First Aid & Training (NZ) Ltd so that we could focus on our primary goal of reducing dog bites in New Zealand and overseas. We are interested in selling the IP to the very successful programme in Australia, England and USA if you know of anyone who may be interested in having a chat please get them to contact me. The Dog Safe Workplace became a stand alone company in April 2016 and we launched our online training in June 2016. We now can offer both online and in-house training on dog safety for organisations that have workers who need to enter properties where dogs may be present. We also offer Canine Body Language courses for those organisations which allow dogs onto their premises. In January 2017 we launched Kids Safe With Dogs Charitable Trust and are now able to get assistance from local boards, councils and private enterprises to enable us to deliver our education programmes to all ages from daycare to college. All our instructors are trained in education delivery, they are police checked and all the dogs are temperament tested. The programmes have been reviewed by a psychologist and recognised as being age appropriate, extensive and based on the latest research from internationally recognised organisations. I regularly commission reports from ACC which shows the number of reported dog bites, cost of bites, breakdown by territorial authority, by industry, age and sex. I received the latest figures in January 2017 which cover from when they first started recording dog bites in 2005. These figures show an increasing growth in dog bites in all categories and in all regions around NZ. We are constantly researching and developing our material to help reduce these numbers. We are working with some incredible forward thinking organisations and as one client was very proud to inform us 'they have seen a dramatic decrease in dog bites since working with The Dog Safe Workplace". Watch this space - we are growing and making a difference!