Children’s Book Teaches Dog Safety and Animal Behavior for Kids | Doggy Do’s and Don’ts

doggy dos and donts children's book teaches dog safety to kids

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 107 - Doggy Do's & Don'ts

Children’s Book Teaches Dog Safety and Animal Behavior for Kids | Doggy Do’s and Don’ts

Are you looking for a book that will help your kids learn to interact safely with dogs?

“Doggy Do’s & Dont’s” is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction children’s book that teaches dog safety and animal behavior for kids.

Authored by Dr. Emily Levine, Doggy Do’s & Don’ts aims to reduce the number of very preventable dog bite cases in young children.

According to the board-certified veterinary behaviorist,

“I’m hoping it serves as an educational tool for children and their caretakers. Called “Doggy Do’s & Don’ts”, it’s written in a rhyme format for very young kids with really a great artist who did lovely illustrations. The scenarios sort of go through how kids should and shouldn’t interact with dogs.”

How to Have a Respectful and Loving Relationship With Your Dog Through Doggy Dos & Donts

how to have a respectful loving relationship with dog through doggy dos and donts

As a veterinarian, Dr. Emily helps pet parents with animal companions who have behavioral issues.

In fact, it’s exactly because of her line of work that she chose the scenarios that are highlighted in the children’s book.

“Dealing with behavioral issues and pets, I see a lot of unfortunate things. Dogs biting kids is a very, very common issue,”

she shared.

The animal doctor added that even though there are so many ways to prevent dog bites, there are still numerous misconceptions about them.

In her opinion, however, the issue really is the culture clash between the human safety culture and the dog culture.

To be specific, if humans knew how to read dogs’ body language, there would be significantly fewer dog bite cases in kids and fewer people needing to decide if they can keep their dog in the home or not.

“The dog often is giving many polite cues to say ‘Please stop, I’m uncomfortable.’ But if the adults in the home don’t understand what the dog is saying, then certainly, kids aren’t going to heed that information.”

The key, therefore, is to teach children in a way that keeps them safe. At the same time, we should also teach them that dogs have feelings and their own personalities, which humans have to respect.

Coming Up With Doggy Do’s & Don’ts

When asked what inspired her to write the children’s book, Dr. Emily laughingly shared that her author journey started when she became a mom.

“It was actually when my daughter was around two years of age. Of course, being a vet, and being a vet behaviorist on top of that, I wanted to read books to her about pets.”

At the time, however, plenty of children’s books she read encouraged risky behavior for the child with their canine companions. Or, if not that, many of the books represented the dog as being bad when they were just anxious or scared.

So, not being able to find an appropriate read to her daughter that would keep safe her safe yet also teach her to have a respect for animals, Dr. Emily got the inspiration to create a book of her own.

Published in 2020, the book has been well-received even by those people who are particularly knowledgeable about dog behavior.



Learn more about Doggy Do’s & Dont’s!

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Dr. Levine: Hi, I am Dr. Emily Levine, and you are tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Excellent introduction.

So, thank you, Dr. Emily, for coming on. Why don’t you start us off and tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals?

Dr. Levine: I am a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, which just means I’m a veterinarian who went through additional schooling and help people and their pets who have behavioral issues.

The sort of innovative thing that I have done that I’m excited about because I’m hoping it serves as an educational tool for children and their caretakers.

I’ve written a children’s book called: Doggy Do’s and Don’ts. And it’s written in a rhyme format for very young kids with really a great artist who did lovely illustrations and the scenarios sort of go through how kids should and shouldn’t interact with dogs.

Chris: Yeah, I like that.

So, I’m curious what inspired the idea to do this, right? I mean, you’ve obviously got a lot of education and experience.

You didn’t just wake up one day and say, “You know, I’m going to write a book— for kids.”

Dr. Levine: Yeah, no, I didn’t.

I woke up one day and I was pregnant. That’s where it starts. And it was actually when my daughter was around two years of age.

And being a vet behaviorist on top of that, oh, I want to read books to her about, pets and things. And there were just so many— children’s books that had dogs in it that really encouraged risky behavior for the child and or represented the dog as being bad when they were just anxious or scared.

So, I couldn’t find something that I felt was appropriate to read to my daughter that would keep her safe, yet also teach her to have a respect for animals, keep her safe when she was—on playdates, in other people’s homes, too.

And so, that’s what inspired me to do it. And what I actually ended up doing was I remember shortly after realizing this that we were on a plane flying to Colorado to visit my parents.

And while we were all sitting on the plane, I just started jotting down like the storyline on napkins.

Chris: Really, if I could picture—hey, flight attendant, can I get some more napkins here?

Dr. Levine: And that’s how it started. 

Chris: That’s how it started. What year approximately, did you come up with the idea for this?

Dr. Levine: So, the book was published in 2020.

I actually had it written— my daughter was two, so maybe 8—10 years ago.

Chris: Oh, wow, okay.

And when you wrote it, I mean, obviously you had to transcribe it off the napkins into something. But I thought what’s really interesting about this, you said, is that, it’s like a rhyming book, because for kids, it’s easier for them to digest the content.

Dr. Levine: Easier for them to digest and easier for them to remember.

Chris: How has it been selling? How are people receiving it?

Dr. Levine: It’s been really well received.

And I think the thing that excites me the most is that it has been really well received from those inside the animal rescue and shelter and behavior community because the people who are particularly knowledgeable about dog behavior, when they see it and read it, it just—they’re like,

“Yes, these are the scenarios where kids are often bitten, and so they see the value of it.”

Chris: So, that’s very cool.

So, now I want to back up a little bit because you said something that’s really interesting that you said you’re a veterinary behaviorist, right.

I guess, I don’t really know enough about this. So, maybe tell us a little bit more about what a veterinary behaviorist does and how is it different from my vet and all those other things?

Dr. Levine: So, just like in human medicine, doctors can specialize into—  you can have your general practitioner, you go to your ophthalmologist, your oncologist, your dermatologist, your surgeon, et cetera.

The same thing exists in veterinary medicine. So, there are veterinarians who are generalists. They are general practitioners that’s your regular vet. And then vets can choose to specialize if they want.

And behavior is also a specialty. And so, for those of us who go down that road, after we finish vet school, we probably have done an internship and then a residency and then have to pass an exam and publish and do all these other things.

And so, what a day looks like for most veterinary behaviors and practice is we deal—primarily with dogs and cats.

For dogs, we see a lot of dogs who have—or showing aggressive behaviors. And it’s our job to understand why they’re doing it and what we can do about it, is it normal?

Does it fall outside the scope of normal or their medical issues that could be contributing? So, we’re sort of like the psychiatrist, I guess, of the animal world, so to speak. 

Chris: So, hopefully, whatever we can do to help you promote this book and get that out there in the hands of more people.

And you’ve got my vote for writing some other books. They don’t have to rhyme, right? You can target different age range.

I’m just throwing that out there. But it’s definitely something for me that’s a passion of mine. And I see the need, like I said, for more education and resources so that people know that people like you exist, that are there to help them, right.

And find solutions to the problems with the animals because I got to believe it could be corrected through training or possibly medication.

I know myself. We had a dog that was on Prozac. We had a cat that was on Prozac. I was finally to the point. I said, why don’t you just give me the Prozac?

And we don’t have to give it to everybody else to make it easier. But it’s something that I totally understand. And I love my animals the way they are, even though they drive me crazy sometimes.

Dr. Emily, where can people go to learn more about the book and where can I find it?

Dr. Levine: Yeah, so it can be purchased on Amazon and it’ll give little blurbs about there and it’s in different formats.

There’s also, I believe, a link to it on my website, ANIMALBEHAVIORCLINICNJ.COM Those are probably the two easiest places.

Chris: Yeah, for sure. We’ll make sure to link that in the show notes so, people can find that easily.

So, like I said, I really am excited that you finally put the book into print and am excited to see where this is going to go.

Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up today?

Dr. Levine: No, just that I appreciate the opportunity to get this information out there where it needs to be.

Chris: Well, Dr. Emily, on behalf of all your friends that were harassing you for ten years, I’m glad that they did. Because I’m glad that this book is out there and thank you for doing that.

And you know, I— as I wrap up the show here, I just like to remind our viewers and listeners that we love innovative ideas, right.

And if you’ve got something you’ve been sitting on for ten years, bring it out. Like even if you don’t have it in production yet, I’d love to talk about it. I’d love to have you on the show.

Just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and fill out the form and we’ll have you on like Dr. Emily and talk about it.

Whether it’s a book, a product or service or, like I said, just an idea, anything that’s helping animals and the people that love them.

That’s what we like to celebrate on the show. So, thank you again, Dr. Emily, for coming on. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Dr. Levine: My pleasure, me too.

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