The NSW Government has three education programs targeting responsible pet ownership and safe pet interaction.

  1. ‘We Are Family’ – targeting the child and pet relationship from pregnancy to preschool years.
  2. ‘Living Safely with Dogs’ – targeting 4 – 5 year old pre-school children.
  3. ‘Living Safely with Pets’ – targeting 5 – 8 year old primary school children.

The programs aim to educate parents and children about how to interact safely with pets.

We are Family (www.wearefamily.nsw.gov.au)

Pet Town (www.pets.nsw.gov.au)

  • Victor and Victoria’s Pet Town is an animated interactive tool for children based on the programs’ safety messages. A tablet version has also been developed and is available free in App stores.

Pet Education Program

To register your interest in having the Responsible Pet Education Program delivered within your school or centre, please email a request to info@pets.nsw.gov.au .

Key Information

  • We Are Family - FAQs

    What is the ‘We Are Family’ Program’?

    The program offers a guide to nurturing the child and pet relationship from pregnancy to preschool years. The program is available through hospital maternity
    services and in early childhood centres throughout NSW.

    It targets expectant parents and parents with young children teaching them how to live safely with dogs.

    The program has been introduced into antenatal education programs and taught by antenatal educators in hospitals and by nurses in early childhood centres. A free information booklet is given to all participating families. The ‘We Are Family’ information booklet is available for download at: www.wearefamily.nsw.gov.au

    Why do I need to know about pet safety?

    Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Most dog attacks involve children in the 0-8 age range and a high number of these attacks
    occur in the home environment where children are bitten by their own dog or one known to them.

    Educating children and their families ensures the child-pet relationship is not only physically and emotionally rewarding but also a safe one as well.

    What do parents learn in this program?

    The ‘We Are Family’ program teaches families how to:

    • prepare pets and the home environment for the arrival of a baby
    • actively supervise all interaction between pets and children
    • separate pets and children safely if parents cannot actively supervise them

    The complimentary booklet is divided up into a number of chapters relevant to different development milestones:

    • Preparation:
      • This section looks at what needs to be considered when preparing the home environment and considering your pet’s behaviour.
    • The first six months:
      • This section looks at introducing the baby to your pets, active supervision and secure separation.
    • Baby on the move:
      • This section looks at how to supervise or separate, avoiding inappropriate behaviours, avoiding risks and the importance of modelling behaviours.
    • Understanding our dogs and cats:
      • This section looks at dog and cat body language; recognising the warning signs our pets give us.
    • Zoonoses:
      • This section looks at a range of diseases which can be passed from pets to the unborn baby and how to avoid them.
    • Pet planner checklist:
      • This is a checklist with a range of helpful hints and activities parents may wish to
        work through prior to the baby’s arrival. It includes hints on:

        • spending time with your pets
        • the home environment
        • behaviour modification
        • when baby comes home

    Who teaches this education program?

    The Program is delivered by antenatal educators and nurses who are provided with ongoing support and professional development. Hospitals are encouraged to
    distribute the complimentary ‘We Are Family’ booklet so expectant families can adequately prepare their pets for the baby’s arrival.

    How much does this education program cost?

    The program is provided free-of-charge to hospitals, early childhood centres and program participants.

  • Living Safely With Dogs - FAQs

    What is the ‘Living Safely With Dogs’ Preschool Program?

    The Living Safely with Dogs Program is delivered to preschools throughout NSW. It targets children in their final year of preschool and teaches them how to live safely with dogs.

    A team of trained pet educators and their suitability-tested dogs present the Program at preschools across NSW. The presentations are delivered using chat, role play, story and song.

    Children can also visit the interactive Victor and Victoria’s Pet Town online and through a tablet device to engage with the program. The program conducts 1,000
    visits to nearly 25,000 students annually throughout metropolitan Sydney and country NSW.

    Why do I need to know about pet safety?

    Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Most dog attacks involve children in the 0-8 age range and a high number of these attacks also
    occur in the home environment where children are bitten by their own dog or one known to them.

    Educating children and their families ensures the child-pet relationship is not only physically and emotionally rewarding but also a safe one as well.

    What do children and parents learn in this program?

    The program focuses on teaching preschool children:

    • when dogs should be left alone
    • things we should not do to dogs
    • how can you tell if a dog is happy, scared or angry
    • a safe way to approach and greet a dog
    • what to do if approached by an unknown or aggressive dog
    • choosing an appropriate pet for their family
    • the importance of actively supervising your children’s interaction with your
      pets
    • the importance of securely separating pets and children when you cannot actively supervise
    • basic dog behaviour
    • the safety messages that their children have been taught

    Each child is given the opportunity to interact with the pet educator’s dog. For many children this can be their first interaction with a dog and provides a positive and educational experience for each child.

    Who teaches this education program?

    The Program is delivered by trained educators accompanied by suitability-tested dogs. Pet educators complete extensive mentoring and professional training and
    deliver a high quality presentation to children.

    Suitability-tested dogs are assessed to ensure they are comfortable in the school environment. The dogs are trained to work under very strict guidelines, ensuring the safety of the children and dogs.

    What is Pet Town?

    Victor and Victoria’s Pet Town is an animated interactive tool for children based on the Program’s safety messages. A tablet version has also been developed and is
    available free-of-charge in App stores.

    Children can play games in Pet Town and with Victor the dog and Victoria the cat, collecting rewards along the way. Visit: www.pettown.nsw.gov.au

    How much does this education program cost?

    Preschools can access the program free of charge.

  • Living Safely With Pets - FAQs

    What is the ‘Living Safely With Pets’ Primary School Program?

    The Living Safely with Pets program is delivered to primary schools throughout NSW and targets students in Grades K to 2. The program educates children on what it means to be a responsible pet owner and how to live safely with dogs.

    Pet educators and their suitability-tested dogs visit schools to present the program. Presentations are delivered using multimedia tools, role play, song and story-telling. Schools are given complimentary educational resources and teaching tool packages.

    Children can also engage with the program at home by visiting the interactive Victor and Victoria’s Pet Town online or by downloading a fee tablet app. The program makes over 900 visits to nearly 100,000 students annually throughout metropolitan Sydney and country NSW.

    Why do I need to know about pet safety?

    Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Most dog attacks involve children in the 0-8 age range and a high number of these attacks also
    occur in the home environment where children are bitten by their own dog or one known to them.

    Educating children and their families ensures the child-pet relationship is not only physically and emotionally rewarding, but also safe.

    What do children and parents learn in this program?

    The Program teaches students about how to stay safe around dogs and what it means to be a responsible pet owner in the home and wider community including:

    • when dogs should be left alone
    • things we should not do to dogs
    • how can you tell if a dog is happy, frightened or angry
    • a safe way to approach and greet a dog
    • what to do if approached by an unknown or aggressive dog

    The Program also introduces and develops the following concepts:

    • choosing an appropriate pet, animal welfare and husbandry
    • the importance of identification and registration
    • confinement and housing, exercise and training

    There are a range of presentations designed to target the specific audiences suited to grade level, prior knowledge and learning modes.

    Parents are given take home brochures and encouraged to apply lessons learned from the program.

    Who teaches this education program?

    The Program is delivered by trained educators accompanied by their suitability tested dogs. Pet educators complete extensive mentoring and professional training
    and deliver a high quality presentation to children. Suitability-tested dogs are assessed to ensure they are comfortable in the school environment. The dogs are trained to work under very strict guidelines, ensuring the safety of the children and dogs.

    What is Pet Town?

    Victor and Victoria’s Pet Town is an animated interactive tool for children based on the program’s safety messages. A tablet version has also been developed and is
    available free in App stores.

    Children can play games in Pet Town and with Victor the dog and Victoria the cat, collecting rewards along the way. Visit: www.pettown.nsw.gov.au

    How much does this education program cost?

    Schools can access the program free of charge.