The Dog and the Baby: The Magic of a Common World

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: December 2011 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2011-07
Beneficiary: Associazione Onlus “Mondi a Confronto”

The project aims at  organizing  monthly meetings at the Casina di Raffaello inside Villa Borghese, Rome, where children can meet dogs and understand how to behave and how to take care of them. The project is addressed to children aged 5 to 11, who constantly demand a great deal of stimulus and motivations.
The consciousness of the man-animal relationship is the first step to regain the empathy towards animal species and towards the environment we live in. It also has a great educational potential since kids, by learning how to deal with animal "otherness", also learn to respect other human beings, whatever their nationality, religious faith or social background is.
Dogs, with their traditional image of valued friendship to men and with their powerful symbolic connotation, easily attract the attention of kids, who are naturally open to non-verbal communication. Children's inclination to touch as a way to feel makes it easier for them to overcome fears, shyness and diffidence towards the "others", and the propensity of dogs to be caressed favours them. Teaching kids dogs communicational signals, and generally the correct way to interact with them is also a way to prevent them being injured when relating with dogs.

Beginning this kind of training in this growth stage is important in order to help them to develop the social strategies they'll need more and more in the future. The relational skills they will acquire will make them more self-confident, therefore improving their affective relationships and their school performance.
TARGET: a correct approach to dogs and knowledge of the way they communicate;
the respect of nature and environment.
PURPOSE: develop environmental and natural education in children, teach them to respect others human being and different animal species, as well as social rules.
Program:
Each meeting is structured in two moments:
1) approach and observation on dogs patterns.
The teaching method will vary, according to the different situations that will emerge working with kids. The didactics is based on the study of dogs patterns, on the research of the many possible correct way to communicate with this animal species, paying particolar attention to their timing and characteristics. The didactics will include different materials, as short film and slide shows.
2) reflections on kids emotions. Discussion on the topic- the round table
the reflection on what has been learnt during the encounter and the expression of what has been felt relating with dogs will be introduced by a brief story or a short fairy tale, related with the daily issue. The teacher will belong each time to different professional backgrounds, from cinophilia to pedagogy, from philosophy to arts and literature, in order to address the issue of "otherness" by many different angles.
This is the most innovative idea of the project: a new approach towards animals, towards dogs in particular, brought by people from different cultures and background, which have not yet met to discuss the topic.

Professional figures involved
Pet therapy operator
Dog operator
Educator
Kids round table operator

Objective of this project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation is to provide the instruments for a right approach with dogs to prevent accidents, and right approach with "the others" (school companion, friends, etc. etc.)


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