Homeschool Lesson Ideas: Dogs

I used to be a school teacher before I became a full time dog trainer. I thought some parents might like some help with homeschooling during this COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some lesson topics and ideas that can be adapted to various age levels:

  1. Language Arts, English, Journalism, Communications, Media Studies: Student prepares questions for interviewing a dog trainer (perhaps this involves some preliminary research). Student interviews dog trainer. Student creates a short summary, paragraph, essay, article, report (written or oral), poster, Public Service Announcement, poem, short story, biography, resume, etc.
  2. Science: Student learns about dog anatomy and is able to identify the different parts on dogs. Student learns about dog communication (e.g. dog body language, facial expressions, vocalizations, olfactory system) and then records observations of real dogs (in real life or by watching videos online of dog parks and dogs playing). Student reports on analysis of data collected and any further questions to research. Student spends some time looking at their environment from the perspective of a dog, paying attention to the sights from a dog’s level, the sounds that a dog may pay more attention to, the smells in the environment that a dog might be more interested in.  Student creates a hypothesis of an experiment to determine the intelligence of family’s dog, creates an experiment, records the data. Student learns about operant conditioning and classical conditioning (the science of behaviour) and is able to explain how dogs learn. Student learns how to clicker train a dog, makes a training plan to teach a dog a new trick, and records data as the student teaches the dog a new trick. Student learns about the science of scent and how dogs use scent to find, track/trail for sport, Search and Rescue, law enforcement, detection (drugs, cancer,), and medical alert dogs (diabetes, PTSD, seizures, etc.). Students research dog breeds and genetics and how breeds have been developed and changed over the years. Student researches the life cycles of common parasites that affect dogs (e.g. dog lice, fleas, tapeworms) and why this information is important to know when trying to eradicate the parasite from the dog and home.
  3. Social Studies: Student researches the laws regarding dogs such as City Bylaws for leash laws, picking up poop, barking, etc., or Provincial or Federal laws regarding animal welfare. Student researches the laws around Service Dogs and the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog or emotional support dog, and how the law addresses each. Student researches ethical questions such as the use of shock collars (some places have banned their use), puppy mills and sales of dogs in pet stores; approaches to problems of dog overpopulation (euthanasia in shelters, culling in remote communities, spay and neuter programs); the issues with Service Dogs and therapy dogs and the laws regarding them. After topics are researched, student can prepare a report (oral, written, visual, video) or participate in a debate or panel discussion.
  4. Health/Wellness: Student researches the health benefits of dogs as pets. Student researches dogs trained to help people: service dogs: Seeing Eye Dogs, diabetic alert dogs, PTSD service dogs, seizure alert dogs, etc. Student researches the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog. Student researches the health benefits and risks to humans from dogs (e.g. zoonotic diseases and parasites). Student creates an obstacle course for a dog and then moves through it as if they were a dog on four legs.

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