Recommendations on how dogs and children should interact have been extensively published, but only few programmes have been analysed on their effectiveness. The Blue Dog interactive CD aims to reduce the incidence of dog bites in young children and it was considered crucial to assess if the CD was effective as an educational tool.
The hypotheses to be tested were: (1) whether the presentation of selected extracts of the CD in standardised settings to 3–6 year olds induced a “learning effect”; (2) whether the lessons learned will be transferred to new situations; (3) the effect of verbal feedback and parent support on the messages learned.
In the pilot study, children of 3, 4, 5 and 6 years (24 children/age group) were exposed to the appropriate scenes, then trained to distinguish safe from unsafe situations. Finally they were tested, immediately and following a delay of 2 weeks.
Results showed that (1) children of all age groups significantly learned from the Blue Dog scenes; (2) the performance improved with increasing age; (3) children who received parental input seemed better able to retain their acquired knowledge. Verbal feedback had no significant effect.
According to the results, parental input is important in teaching children the lessons from the Blue Dog Story. Therefore, the Blue Dog package consists of a CD and an accompanying printed parent guide. The presentation will highlight the market penetration and feedback received from the first year following the launch as well as further research options initiated by the Blue Dog Trust.