Dogs and Kids

Therapy Dogs and Autism

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The federal government's Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, in 2020, about 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a set of conditions with symptoms such as repetitive behaviors, challenges in communication and social skills, sleep disorders and sensory sensitivities.

There are varying degrees of autism, and while there is no cure, there are many therapies, tools and interventions that may be helpful. One option families explore is bringing an autism therapy dog into their family. A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort in a therapeutic context. Outside of medical settings or an institutional environment, a therapy dog is an option for people with autism because they can help encourage social interaction as well as being calming.

DogDigz offers a helpful, comprehensive guide to the use of therapy dogs for children. It includes:

  • an explanation of the differences between therapy, companion and service dogs
  • types of dogs for specific circumstances
  • how a therapy dog can help a child with autism
  • organizations that can help

Get this free guide here:


Teaching Kids to Deal with the Death of a Pet

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Between one and five children experience the death of a close loved one before the age of 18. Losing a family pet may be the first time they experience death or even process the concept of what it means. This can make the initial conversation especially confusing for them, so it’s important to consider a few tips for helping them through the grieving process.

There’s no denying that losing a pet is one of the hardest experiences for any family. It is hard enough for adults to cope with the death of a beloved pet, but for children, losing a pet can be very traumatic. Insurance provider Bestow's free guide, "What to Do When a Family Pet Dies: Teaching Kids About Grief," is a comprehensive resource that could prove to be very helpful.

This guide includes a section on how to start the conversation, provides resources specifically designed for children to learn about pet loss, identifies specific questions that may be asked by your child or that you can ask, suggests ways to celebrate a pet's life, details signs that your child may be struggling with your pet's passing, and offers additional resources for parents.

Check it out here:

New! Critter Camp in Sapphire, NC - 3 Sessions Starting June 17

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The Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society introduces Critter Camp – a brand new summer camp program for rising first-graders through rising sixth-graders.

Three (3) weeks of Critter Camp will be offered in 2019: June 17-21, July 15-19, and August 5-9. Camp hours are 9 am-4 pm. Each week of Critter Camp features fun, immersive experiences with animals at our no-kill shelter at 200 Gable Drive in Sapphire, NC.
Critter Camp also includes humane education programs and animal-themed arts and crafts, dog obedience demonstrations, and exciting guest presentations by visiting veterinarians, wildlife biologists and law enforcement K9’s.
Each week of Critter Camp is $300 per child. A limited number of scholarships are available. There will be a maximum number of 12 children in each Critter Camp.
A “sneak peek week” of Critter Camp was held during Spring Break. Watch this Critter Camp video to see what our inaugural campers got to enjoy and experience.

To register, download the Critter Camp registration form and return it by mail or drop it off at CHHS. For more information, please call (828)743-5752 or email

4 Tips for Involving Your Kids in Training Your New Dog

Guest Post by Paige Johnson

UntitledBringing home a new canine companion — whether it’s a puppy or an adult — requires some clear, consistent training from the entire family. This can be more easily said than done when it comes to children; though they mean well, they’re often too distracted with the excitement over a new pet to focus on teaching positive behaviors. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get your kids involved in the process to make the transition to a new home smoother and quicker for your dog.

1. Start with the basics

Even if your new dog is grown, he still needs to learn the rules for his new home. Your family can start showing him the ropes by identifying good behavior he exhibits naturally, like sitting or lying down. Point out these behaviors to your kids, and show each the right way to praise and reward good behavior, including offering treats in the palm of the hand to avoid accidental finger bites. If everyone is consistently implementing the same rules every day, your dog will catch on quicker, and your kids will establish their authority early on.

2. Talk about health hazards

Your entire family needs to be well-versed in what’s good for your dog and what could hurt him. Walk your kids through your home and go over exactly which items can be toxic or otherwise dangerous to a dog. Show them where potent cleaners are kept and how to store them safely out of reach, and talk to older kids about which cleaners should be used in the event of pet accidents. Talk about productive ways to deter the dog from those areas — for example, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed in the laundry room if that’s where most cleaning items are kept. If he does start nosing around cabinets that could have dangerous chemicals, discuss the proper way to scold him so he learns to steer clear.

3. Keep training materials visible around the house

It’s not as easy for kids to let training slip their minds if there are constant reminders around. They can have a clicker to keep in their backpack or tucked in the house key dish by the door. It’ll also be easier to remember to reward good behavior as it occurs, even if it’s simply the absence of a bad behavior. For example, if your daughter does her homework at the kitchen table after school and your dog quietly naps at her feet, show her how to reward him for calm behavior.

4. Give your kids some independent training time

Though it’s important to make sure your kids are training the dog properly, it isn’t always productive to constantly stand over their shoulder watching. Give your kids mini dog-sitting opportunities — it can be as simple as watching the puppy for 10 minutes while you take a shower — and follow-up on how it goes. Were there problems? Was your child able to handle it? If not, what’s a better resolution for next time? Don’t hesitate to share your own training struggles and see what your kids think about solving the problem. Working together will reinforce the idea that training is a family effort, and it’ll help identify persistent problems much more quickly.

Make your pup’s training progress a daily routine with your family. Troubleshoot issues, vent about tough training sessions, and find ways to laugh together over the process. Before you know it, your new dog will be well-acclimated to his new home and trained to your family’s content!

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

New Kids' Coloring Book Celebrates Rescue Dogs

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.32.25 PMCooper: A Rescue Dog's Tale, a new coloring and activity book for kids, has been published by Helping Tales Publishers with the support of John Paul Pet, a leading grooming and hygiene product line dedicated to pets. Cooper’s heartwarming true story aims to help children better understand pet rescue. Ten percent of all books sold will benefit rescue organizations and shelters across the country.

Gina Dial, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for John Paul Pet, sought to rescue Cooper – a 1½ -year-old Australian Shepherd – and she used her Facebook network to do so. After seeing what the power of social media could do to assist needy pets, she inspired John Paul Pet to create the John Paul Pet PALS program to help “Passionate Animal Lovers” leverage their social media networks on Facebook. The state-by-state PALS Facebook pages encourage users to “Join and Share” their stories of lost and found pets, as well as pets in need of a forever home.

Cooper is now the official spokesdog of the PALS program, and the last page of his book features a colorable tutorial about the program and its new campaign, “You Join – You Share – We Give.” For every “join” to the PALS Facebook page, John Paul Pet will make a $1 donation to the Morris Animal Foundation (up to $5,000).

You can purchase the book directly from Amazon below.

Dog Safety Guide for Parents

ID-100173947Dogs and children are natural companions and they could be lifelong friends. Sometimes, however, kids can do things that dogs may not like -- and that's when a dangerous situation can occur.

The "Dog Safety Guide for Parents" is a useful free online resource for parents who want to know more about dog bites, dog breeds, and how to keep children safe when interacting with dogs. There are some excellent dog safety rules for kids as well as safety advice for dog owners.

Check out the Dog Safety Guide for Parents here.

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"Stop the 77" Campaign - Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 17-23

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 4.17.00 PMIn honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23), kid-dog training and relationship experts Leah Hatley and Justine Schuurmans of The Family Dog™ have launched a campaign called "Stop the 77," since 77 percent of dog bites come from a family or friend's dog.

Sponsored by PetSafe® brand, the three-part campaign aims to educate the public about how to really respect dogs and help keep kids safe around the dogs they know. The three parts are:

  • A must-share video that tells the story of a family dog’s experiences from the child’s perspective, followed by the same story told through the dog’s eyes, which clearly shows the tragic effects of misunderstanding our family dogs.
  • An upbeat, informative website featuring cool graphics and music videos that teach kids to respect dogs, understand what your dog is trying to tell you and how to help Stop the 77 by sharing this information.
  • An eye-catching poster designed by Los Angeles-based artist and dog lover Lili Chin, which is free to download by the public and can be hung in school, libraries, vet offices, and more.

To learn more about Stop the 77 and how to keep our kids and dogs safe, please visit

Image from Stop the 77 video

10 Things We Can Teach Our Children to Prevent Dog Bites

ID-100269251Did you know that children are the most common victims of dog bites? Many dog bites that affect children happen during everyday activities and with familiar dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has great ways to help parents and their children understand how they can prevent dog bites, so you can help your kids – and dogs—stay safe and happy!

  1. Avoid dogs you don’t know. If you see an unknown dog wandering loose and unsupervised, avoid the dog.
  2. Ask before petting! When the owner is with their dog, always ask the owner for permission to pet their pup. Even if it’s a dog you know, asking first can help prevent sudden movements that may startle the dog.
  3. When confronted, don’t panic. If a dog confronts you, walk confidently and quietly away. If a dog goes after you, stay calm and stand still, keeping hands low and clasped in front of you. It’s important to take a defensive position, so the dog won’t think you are trying to harm him.
  4. Don’t make it worse. Avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting or making sudden movements towards the dog. All of these actions will make the dog feel threatened and can make the dog more aggressive.
  5. Let sleeping dogs lie. When a dog is sleeping or eating, leave the dog alone.
  6. Never tease dogs. Don’t take their toys, food or treats, and never pretend to hit or kick them. This could create distrust in the dog, and make him or her more aggressive.
  7. Playtime has a beginning and end. A dog has to want to play, but when the dog leaves that’s your cue that playtime is over. The dog will come back for more play if he feels like it.
  8. Never pull a dog’s ears or tail. Pain makes a dog feel like he is in danger and he could respond by biting.
  9. Dogs aren’t toys. Never climb on or try to ride dogs. Not only could this scare or anger the dog, but it could also injure the dog if he cannot support the weight or tries to get away.
  10. Dog crates are safe spaces. Don’t bother a dog when he is in his crate. Dogs need a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes. Remember, dogs need alone time too!

Teach your children these simple lessons to reduce dog bites, and help keep your kids and pups safe, happy and healthy! For more information on preventing dog bites, visit

Image: Witthaya Phonsawat,

Kids Craft Day for Animals - Asheville, Sept. 17

ID-10055321Pack Memorial Library will hold a kids craft hour to benefit Asheville Humane Society on Wed., Sept. 17, from 3:30 to 4:30 PM. Children in the community are invited to come and make dog and cat toys for he animals in our care. The Society will be bringing a pet for show and tell!

No personal pets, please. The library is located at 67 Haywood Street in Asheville.

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Recommended Reading: Pet First Aid for Kids

Pet First AidChildren can become involved in caring for their pets in many ways -- and one of them is learning about techniques to keep them healthy and safe.

That's why animal care iInstructor Denise Fleck collaborated with Rescue Critters® on their new book, Pet First Aid for Kids. "By instilling in the younger generation a passion for animals, it is my hope they will inspire their parents to learn along with them," says Fleck.

The book outlines basic steps, along with detailed photographs, and materials needed BEFORE you get your pet to the veterinarian -- how to handle choking, what to do for a bee sting, how to administer rescue breathing and CPR. "With an emphasis on safety first, it is a quick reference to teach kids, age 8 and older, what to do should their dog or cat need help," explains co-Author Sandrina Lee. "Hopefully it will bring families together learning to care for their four-legged members."

"I learned a lot from reading this book and now know what to do in an emergency with my pets and also how to keep them safe at home," says 7th grader Lyndsey Scoper, while 9th grader Alexis Yannuzzi explains, "It's stressful worrying about your pets. I have 3 dogs and a cat, but I no longer have to worry. I recommend that pet owners of all ages keep this book on hand. I know I will!"

Veterinarian Harriet Howe comments, "I found Pet First Aid for Kids accurate and easy to follow. It’s a great book for kids and young adults…I know I would have found it intriguing at that age," and that is just what the authors are hoping all readers will discover as well since pets too are part of the family and sometimes need a helping hand.

Pet First Aid for Kids is available at Amazon along with other select sites and retail stores.

Summer Activity for Kids Who Love Animals: "Critter Camp"

ScreenHunter_01 May. 08 14.30"Critter Camp" is a week long half-day summer camp program designed for children who love animals. Age-appropriate activities, field trips, and guest presenters teach young people about animal care in a fun, safe hands-on environment. The camp is operated by Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, located at 31 Glendale Avenue in Asheville.

All sessions run for two weeks, Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM. The enrollment fee is $200 per camper; an additional sibling is $175. Here is the schedule for the summer:

  • Grades 1 and 2 - June 11 - 15 or July 16 - 20
  • Grades 3 and 4 - June 18 - 22 or July 23 - 27
  • Grades 5 and 6 - June 25 - 29 or July 30 - August 3
  • Grades 7 and up - July 9 - 13 or August 6 - 10

Enrollments are accepted online at: . For more information, call (828) 545-0066.