Tuesday, 30 July 2013

I don't care how damn cute it is... Kids & Dogs

I Need To Rant...   Do you think this is cute? 

I make no apologies here, I have stolen these images off the net, and if it makes ONE dog owner or parent see sense and behave more responsibly, I'll do it again.

Children and dogs CAN have a fine old time, they really can. I adored dogs from an early age and, though we didn't have one, I was taught how to behave around dogs, just as I was taught how to behave with other children, how to cross the road, not to touch the fire ...

And until I was of an age where I could be trusted to follow those rules and that education on my own, I was not allowed to cross the road alone, be around dogs unsupervised, was not given access to the fire or the kettle or the sharp knives.

So why is it these days I am seeing endless frigging photos of children with dogs, being allowed and often ENCOURAGED to do things to dogs that dogs DON'T like, should NOT have to tolerate and that can and sadly does, tend to result in a child being bitten!

I hear really really frequently 'Oh, the dog lets him climb all over, he rides the dog like a pony, the dog lets him pull his ears and tail, he wanders round with food and if the dog approaches he bops him on the nose and says 'No!'...

"my dog would never hurt our child"...


Well, that's what Blakes' parents thought - here's Blake, he's so cute, that huge wound on his face is pretty cute too don't you think?

You don't? But Blake was just hanging out with a pair of dogs who were eating a bone, in fact, the dogs owners and Blakes parents don't actually know WHICH of the two dogs bit him - do we think this suggests that a/ they were not supervising him and b/ he was too close to the dogs and maybe c/ the dogs should have been left alone to eat their bones?

I'll quote from their own article on this incident, Blake was bitten by a dog:

"is a dog my son is used to walking around with food.. especially hotdogs.. and the dog will try to sniff his food and Blake will tell him no and pop his nose and the dog NORMALLY jumps away as if he is scared. My son rides this dog like a horse.. pulls his tail and ears.. anything you could imagine like that."

Dogs can and do tolerate a huge amount of  crap from us, from our kids - but they should not HAVE to. The likelyhood is, in fact, most dog's won't bite a kid, but very scarily, the likelyhood is this WON'T be through training, good management or an understanding owner.

Most owners do NOT see the warning signs that a dog is not happy, they do NOT read the body language of a dog avoiding a child, they don't know how to read (or even look for!) tension in the dogs body or mouth. They don't seem to realise that a dog is a sentient being with his own feelings, likes, dislikes, and he or she should NOT ever be considered a childs plaything.

If you want your dog to tolerate your child, you have to teach him how, you have to make him  feel that it is rewarding to stay calm and relaxed around the kid... and... you have to prevent the kid doing anything the dog won't like.

Here's a heads up folks - dogs do NOT want to be climbed on, bounced on, hit in the face, have their tails pulled, ears pulled, eyes poked, be sat on, be ridden like a pony, be taunted with food, have their toys snatched from them, have kids climb on them when they are in their beds....

In fact, a lot of dogs find babies and toddlers outright FRIGHTENING. They are unpredictable, they are grabby, they fall down a lot,they make sudden high pitched noises, they smell strange ... and if you think that is weird it is worth remembering, a lot of adult dogs actually freak out at first at puppies. If they find it hard to cope with a juvenile of their OWN species, can you see how a baby of a totally different species could be pretty damn scary?

Dogs do NOT automatically know how to behave around kids, nor should you expect them to. They are not 'bad' dogs if they are fearful, or boisterous or outright aggressive even - they are DOGS and unless you teach them how to be around children or manage them so that they CANNOT get near to children, then accidents like Blake's will happen.

Of course Blake is pretty lucky, he's just got some facial disfigurement. He seems like a pretty happy chap considering what a fright and what pain he has suffered.

None of it was necessary of course, if Blakes parents (and all the other parents who put their children AND their dogs at risk) had just taken some common sense management precautions.

So next time you see a picture like the one at the start of this blog, and you think 'aww, cute' - stop, and remember that it can end up like the picture in the middle and if it does, the chances are the dog ends up like this one:

And that's definitely NOT cute.


Anonymous said...

Amen to that

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

This is a pet hate of mine, too. I tell so many people. I get so damn tired of telling people and having them not listen. I tried to tell a young mother last year .. she had adopted a Brambleberry dog and she was posting pictures of her toddler daughter with the dog in a stranglehold, or standing over the dog with a toy, or laying on the dog in his bed. And then she was posting requests for help because the dog had growled at the child, then had air snapped. I kept on and on telling her: dogs need a place where they can be quiet and safe away from children, they need to be protected from children and supervision - close supervision - is a MUST when they are together. No hugging, no staring into the eyes, no pulling the dog about, and definitely no rolling about in the dogs' bed - I pointed out the stress signals that the dog was demonstrating in most of her photos. She did not listen, and eventually the dog was returned with a bad rap.

It is NOT CUTE when your kids are all over the dog. It is NOT COOL. It is NOT FUNNY. It isn't even only the dogs who suffer, as you have shown in this post. Kids get bitten in the face so often, it's tragic.