Longitudinal assesment Blue Dog

Meints, K., Lakestani, N & De Keuster, T. A Longitudinal Assessment of the Blue Dog Bite Prevention Programme.

After is has been shown that the “Test Yourself module” on the Blue Dog dog bite prevention DVD successfully teaches children about safe behaviour with dogs (Meints & De Keuster, 2009; Schwebel & Morrongiello, Davi, Stewart & Bell, 2012), we were interested to find out if also the more general, educational Blue Dog story modules on the DVD increase children’s knowledge about safe behaviour with dogs. We were further interested to see if children use the acquired knowledge and change their behaviour with their own dog.

We carried out an empirical assessment of children's learning using the interactive “Blue Dog” DVD. In a longitudinal with cross-sectional experimental design, thirty-three 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children were initially tested on a laptop with a set of 15 different interactive and animated child-dog-scenes. They had to choose either a safe or an unsafe outcome of the interaction. In the training phase children were allowed to watch the Blue Dog stories which inform children about what dogs like or dislike.
Then, in the second testing phase on the same day, different cartoon actors and dogs were used for the same scenes as on the first testing occasion, interspersed with distracter scenes. Children again chose the outcome. Children were again tested after 8 weeks, 6 months and 1 year. Half of the children were allowed to take the DVD and parent booklet home, the other half only took the booklet home. A repeated-measures ANOVA was carried out with Age, Blue Dog group (DVD & booklet vs. booklet only) as independent variables and scores of the chosen outcomes in the test phases as dependent variable.

Results show significant increases in correct responses after using the CD in all children. Children retained this knowledge in all testing phases with the exception of the youngest children in the condition without the DVD – younger children profit more from being able to use the DVD. As expected, older children exhibit significantly more correct responses than younger children. Assessment results indicate that children learn successfully from the Blue Dog educational stories module on the CD. Therefore, the CD helps to educate children to behave safely with dogs. First inspection of the accompanying parental questionnaires after the 8 week time point revealed that by this stage 38% of children interacted more safely with their own dog and 50% of children acted more safely with dogs in general. Also, 74% of parents found the booklet useful to teach their children safe behaviour with dogs.
Thus, we have further evidence that the Blue Dog programme helps to educates children to behave safely with dogs and can aid in dog bite prevention.

Research was funded by University of Lincoln.

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