Doggone Crazy! Family Fun Action Game is a unique and informative game that aims to teach children how to be safe around dogs. While the game is meant to be played by all ages, its main focus is on helping children to "read" the body language of dogs and know how to respond appropriately in various situations.
The object of the game is to collect as many dog bones (small cardboard punch outs) as possible, moving around the board by spinning the arrow to reveal the number of spaces in which to move forward. Each spot along the way gives some kind of direction on what to do next. Players might answer a true/false or multiple choice question on a Do-Do-Do It card, view a picture of a dog on a See-See-See-It card to try to guess if it's either safe or dangerous, collect a bone, etc. The player that collects the most bones wins, however, the real goal is what is learned during the course of the game.
I'll start with a few of the cons, even though they are minor, and then share what I liked about this game. Because the focus of the game is on teaching bite prevention, there is some over generalizing reflected in some of the answers on the cards. For instance, one of the photo cards shows a dog on a bed with a relaxed, non threatening posture. However, because the rule is, "Stay away from dogs on beds or furniture," the dog is to be considered dangerous, despite that the card says it's a known dog and an adult is present. While I can more than appreciate the better safe than sorry mindset (I use it often as a mom), I prefer not to teach my children that something is an absolute when it's clearly situational. And while I also understand the use of the terms "dangerous" and "safe" for the sake of clarity, especially with younger children, I'm not fond of my children thinking that when Grandma's golden retriever sits on their couch or rests on their bed, he should be considered a threat to their safety. There are other scenarios like this in the game, so when we come across them, we talk about when it might be true, when it might not be, and how to discern the difference.
Another con is that the game does run a bit long, about 45 minutes, so younger children might lose interest before it's over with (like mine does).
Regardless of these small drawbacks, both my kids and I have learned a lot of very useful information about dog behavior! I especially appreciate the See-See-See-It cards with photos of dogs and kids, as it is a wonderful way to observe and discuss a dog's body language before encountering a similar situation in real life! I love that it teaches them how to observe and really think about whether or not a dog is safe to approach, knowing that they will be able to call upon what they've learned and seen in order to discern what to do. I plan to use just the cards for review every now and then, as I think it will be a great way to reinforce the information. Both the Do-Do-Do-It and See-See-See-It cards can even be used on their own, and easily be incorporated into a more basic game for the sake of brevity with younger ones.
Another helpful aspect is that various age and comprehension levels aren't overlooked. For instance, the Do-Do-Do-It cards contain multiple choice scenarios which have answers based on the ages of the player (2 options for 4-6 year olds, 3 options for 7-10 year olds, and 4 options for 11 and older). Spaces on the board are color coded (red means bad interactions with a dog, green means good interactions) as well as other symbols that help a non reading child to know what to expect as they move around the board. There is even a "Simon Says" feature which is especially fun for the younger set.
It is very clear that the creators of this game put a great deal of thought into making it both fun and educational. One clever play in the game is when a player lands on a "Be a tree" space, and everyone has to jump up and assume the tree pose (illustrated right on the board). Whoever is fastest gets a bone. If a player fails to get up in time, they are "bitten" and end up in the "hospital" where they are hindered in advancing around the board for the next 3 turns. Obviously the goal is in training a child to stand immediately still in the most non threatening posture possible if they encounter an overly excited or hostile dog - a helpful thing to have practiced if ever it's needed.
The Doggone Crazy! Family Fun Action Game is very thorough, informative and fun! If you're looking for a creative way to teach your children how to be safe and confident around dogs, this is a great tool!