In this lesson students deal with the issue of dangerous dogs, then go on to discuss the broader relationships that humans have with their canine chums. It is based around a BBC video in which a local MP confronts the owner of a Staffordshire pitbull terrier in a public park. The lesson also includes conversation, roleplaying and writing activities. It is aimed at upper-intermediate and advanced students of English.
A note about the title of this post : In the video the above-mentioned dog attempts to take a nip at the BBC cameraman, hence the title “Don’t dog me!” If you were expecting what I expect you were expecting, you may be more interested in clicking here – then come back, of course!
Step One : Lead-in (humorous video)
- Ask your students to imagine they were dogs and explain what their daily lives would be like. This is a good moment to input the idiomatic expression “it’s a dog’s life” (there are more doggy idioms here, which you may like to turn into a matching exercise).
- Show them the video below and ask them for their comments.
- An alternative approach might be to show them the video first (from 0.16 to prevent them seeing the title), then ask them to guess why the man behaves so strangely.
Step Two : Discussion
- Read out the names of the breeds in the collage below and ask your students to identify the different dogs (Greyhound, Chihuahua, Pitbull Terrier, Golden Retriever, Poodle, Great Dane, Ordinary Mongrel, Husky, Alsatian). Write up the vocabulary on the board.
- Ask your students to discuss what they imagine the owners of these dogs are like. Alternatively, you could ask them to talk about what type of person each dog would be appropriate for.
Step Three : The Video
- Focus on the photo of the pitbull terrier. Ask your students what they know about this breed of dog and whether they know of any laws to which dangerous dog owners have to adhere.
- Tell your students they are going to watch a video in which a local politician confronts a dangerous dog owner in a public park. Play the video for general understanding.
- Play the video again and ask them answer these True/False questions.
Answers : 1T | 2F | 3T | 4F | 5F | 6F | 7T | 8F | 9T | 10F
Step Four : Conversation Questions
Ask your students to discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups – it’s best to project the document on the screen to save on photocopies.
Extras : Here are a couple of things you may like to show your students before (or after) they discuss the following questions from the above worksheet:
- Question 3 – César Millán (“The Dog Whisperer”) shows a pitbull terrier who’s boss
- Question 4 – Denver the dog looking decidedly guilty after kitty-cat-treat theft
- Question 13 – Dog and owner lookalikes
Step Five : Roleplay
Here’s a few doggy roleplays! Take your pick!
- A Pitbull in the Park : This roleplay is basically a reenactment of the scene in the video. Roles: the local MP, the reporter and the dog owner.
- Not on my Doorstep! : Show your students this video and ask them to roleplay the argument between the dog owner and the local resident – you might like to throw in the dog too (“I was desperate!” | “You can’t expect me to pick up my own muck, I’m just a dog” etc).
- Dog versus Owner : Ask one student to take the role of a dog that is unhappy with the treatment it receives from its owner (not enough walks, bad food, small living space, always kept on a lead etc). The owner must obviously defend themselves from the dog’s criticisms.
- Dog, Cat, Bird or Fish? : Not very original this one, but it normally works OK. Give your students family roles (grandparent, parent, teeanger, young child) and put them together to decide on which would make the best pet.
Step Six : Writing
No secrets here! Ask your students to write an article, opinion or discursive composition on the question of dangerous dogs. If the following lexis hasn’t emerged during the speaking activities, you might like to feed it in before sending your students off home.
Dangerous Doggy Vocab : to keep on a lead | to bite | a muzzle | to muzzle | to attack | to be banned | to impose a ban on | to keep under control | to feed | people have the right to … without being + partciple | to put down | to train | scarred for life | to fine | irresponsible owners | a breed | to breed dogs | to cause serious injury | to sense fear | to exhibit aggressive behaviour