This morning I was doing my usual reading online about dogs, dog issues, new training suggestions etc and I came across something that made me mad, really mad.
I was reading an article suggesting that no dog is safe and people were using the comments as a means to voice their opinion. I couldn’t stop shaking my head at what I was reading. Comments such as:
“Pitbulls always attack” and
“Dogs do turn for no reason, you can’t trust them” and
“You can never have your kids around dogs and expect them to be safe”.
Every single one of these comments was uneducated and would have been laughable if it didn’t have such a serious consequence. When you put something out onto the internet that people can freely read, you have a responsibility to ensure it’s educated and accurate, especially when it has the power to take a living beings life. Comments like the ones above lead to the deaths of innocent animals. It increases the hysteria surrounding dog attacks and makes it seem like dogs are dangerous and unpredictable creatures just waiting for their opportunity to pounce and take out the family.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Dogs aren’t a mysterious creature that you need special powers to understand. Dog trainers don’t have amazing ‘whispering’ abilities. They are ordinary people who have a love for dogs and have taken the time to understand how they function. And heres the awesome part, you can do exactly the same. It’s not difficult and the right education is out there.
Dog bites always happen for a reason. Just because you don’t understand why, doesn’t mean the dog has had a brain malfunction and snapped. The truth is, your dog has probably given multiple warnings all of which have been ignored or misunderstood. Also, just because a dog has bitten once, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do it again. That part depends on the steps you take next.
Did you know that before a dog bites, they don’t necessarily growl? Some dogs skip that part all together. Some dogs will lick their lips (outside the context of eating), some dogs will yawn (outside the context of waking up or just before bed), some dogs will avert their gaze among many other things.
These are all very clear signals that your dog is uncomfortable and would like the stimulus to move away, be it a child, a dog or anything else. When these signals are ignored, that’s when it may lead to a bite given the right set of circumstances. In your dogs head he’s thinking “What the hell do I have to do to make this go away? How much clearer can I be?” Meanwhile your kid is riding your dog like a pony having a grand old time and everybody is oblivious to the dogs discomfort.
There are lots of educational programs out there for children which demonstrate how to stay safe around dogs but that only addresses half the issue. Adults get bitten too and often when a child is bitten the adult is there watching and has missed all of the signs that the dog was unhappy.
Here is where we step in.
We are in the middle of putting together an information package for the website which will be freely available to anybody world wide. If you want the correct information, please look to behaviour professionals rather than a sensationalized media story. Remember, their job is to sell stories and facts will often get in the way of that.
The information package will be available by this Sunday. If you know of somebody that needs this information, please share. The more people that share, the more we can educate our community and keep everybody safe.