Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Your Dog IS Speaking To You...

But are YOU listening? ...

Take a little peek at this video, found on youtube.

Cutsey? See the cute labrador playing with the ubercute human puppy there... gee, thats so cute I could puke...

And what is Buster, the star of the show saying... does he love 'his' baby?

Well, I can't tell you that, but I can tell you, he doesn't love some of the shit that baby is doing!

Lets skip back a minute to find my point here.... dogs have these mouths and they are full of teeth. They also keep their heads at roughly 'baby/toddler face height', around adult human knee height...

So when a dog snaps at and bites a baby or a child... they get the face.

And oh so many times, we hear the words 'He bit without warning' or 'it was a totally unprovoked attack'...

We see children in the newspapers with bite wounds to their faces, and, because their faces are small and dogs are in comparison large, because we have soft skin, those wounds are usually pretty bad (although generally NOT consistant with an 'attack' but very consistant with a quick 'bite and release' as is common in dog to dog communication and dog to puppy interactions.... interesting point that..).

So... you watched that clip?

Pinpoint where that dog said 'I don't want to play now baby'..

He actually said that politely around four or five times and then once quite strongly, and then again when the baby was pulling his tail he tried to tell the baby off two or three times there.

Start looking at the vid again, around the 3.10 mark on the counter, where the dog has his toy under his belly and the baby takes it. He pointedly removes the toy from the baby several times, eventually placing his paw over it.

The baby tries to take the toy again and this time Buster the Labrador holds on to the toy, freezes, stares directly at the baby and there is a milisecond of 'lip curl'.

Note also around that behaviour, Buster is looking away from the baby, to the owner and also the other way, he yawns, he pants, he licks his lips.. and then that freeze/stare/lipcurl..

This dog is saying 'I am not comfortable, I am stressed, I do not like this situation, Baby, Go Away'.. the lipcurl is stopped by the owner, i doubt she actually saw it, but i suspect she did cotton on that the freeze/stare part of the behaviour was going to the realms of 'dog snaps at baby'.

MOST owners don't see this language, this communication. This dog in this video, like hundreds of dogs on videos all over the internet is almost SHOUTING 'i am unhappy, i am stressed, i am not comfortable'.

Yet until they growl.. no one does anything to allieviate their problems.

And when they DO growl... well go on, your dog growls at your kid, if Buster in that vid growled at the baby after his lipcurl and stare went unheeded?..

'BAD DOG BUSTER, NO!'.... oh you betcha, thats what most of you would do, thats our instinct.

But its wrong, its so very wrong it resides in Wrongville, Wrong County, Planet Wrong.

Punish your dogs lipcurl, his growl, his airsnap, and you will create a dog who FEELS threatened, uncomfortable, pressured, but no longer has the ability to say 'hey, back off buddy'.

Put this in human terms... someone repeatedly invades your personal space and eventually, grabs your tits/ass. You would normally say 'HEY.... BACK OFF' way before that happened, but you are mute, you cannot speak.

Whadda ya gonna do? What option do you have left?

Well you can run away... or...

Smack em in the eyes!

This, people, dog owners, humans... this is the option so MANY dogs are given, this dog in the video I chose for this post has TRIED moving away from the baby, hes TRIED body language, hes TRIED ignoring it.. he tries very hard to pay attention tohis owner when she is encouraging her child to pull the dogs tail...

He has to try, tolerate this and so do a million dogs every day.

Isn't it awesome that dogs DO try to please us and not bite our children, even when we actively encourage them to use dogs as play things? When we ignore them and even punish them for trying to communicate with us how they feel!

And yet, as clearly much loved as Buster in the video is, and all the Busters around the world...

One nick, as much as one snarl at that baby and it'd be a one way trip to the vets office for him.

Don't you think thats wrong, that that is SERIOUSLY fucked up? Don't you think that we, as the creature with the bigger brain, the ability to learn different languages, understand different social rules and ettiquette ought to learn how to read and listen to our dogs?

Your dog is speaking to you, loud and clear. Pull your fingers out of your ears and listen to him!

1 comment:

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

Yes, yes I do. I am appalled at this type of video. To put a child at risk like that is almost criminally negligent, yet no court would say so. This is probably because of the way the law is written but also because most judges are not expert at reading dog, either!

When my grandkids were born (twins, as if one wasn't enough for a dog to cope with) we bought a playpen and babygates. We barricaded off the dangerous things in the lounge and babygated the dogs away unless more than one adult was RIGHT THERE all the time. One of our dogs was a Pets As Therapy (accredited visiting dog) and the other an old and rather nervy but terribly polite and good-tempered dog. I was, understandably, more worried about the nervous one, but in fact with properly managed introductions and constant supervision, he was fine, too. The point being, we monitored both babies and dogs and at the first sign of discomfort on the dogs' part, they were separated.

I would no more have thought of watching the toddlers interact with my dogs while I took video with nobody else right there at their side ready to step in, than I'd have considered feeding any of them rat poison.