Computer game teaches kids how to deal with dogs

A software program designed to teach kids how to interact safely with dogs does teach valuable lessons, a new study has claimed.

However, children have trouble translating their computer learning into real-world situations with a live dog.  According to David Schwebel from the University of Alabama, part of the problem is that kids are active and unpredictable, and can stress out dogs. But another dog-bite risk is an issue of child development.

Before the age of 4 or so, children don’t understand that other people and animals have thoughts and desires different from their own. So when a child sees a sleeping dog and wants to pull its ears, that kid can’t comprehend that the dog might not be in the mood for ear-pulling. To try to teach kids how to properly interact with their pets, the nonprofit organization The Blue Dog Trust developed an interactive computer game called ‘The Blue Dog’.

 The game sets up animated scenarios where kids can choose whether to play with a dog that is napping, eating or otherwise indisposed. If the kids make the unsafe choice, sneaking up on a dog during dinnertime, for example, the dog will growl and bark.

All the kids got bolder in interacting with the dog, regardless of which computer game they’d played, possibly because nothing bad had happened the first time they played with a dog in the psychology lab.

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