Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I propose....respect dogs week!

With this week being Dog Bite prevention week we will all be seeing stats and reports that are meant to stir up our emotions and fear. Originally this week was meant to be "prevention" but lately seems to have lost its focus. Here is what I would like to see vs. dog bite prevention about "dog respect and  awareness week?"  Or "become dog smart week"  So many possibilities with a poitive spin.   It will never happen but...I can dream right?  Not eye catching enough but..  Actually Doggone Safe has made a HUGE effort with the International dog bite prevention education challenge!  This is intended to empower and educate kids vs. create fear!  hope we see more of this each year!

We NEED education as the video by Dr. Sophia Yin beautifully portrays what I witness at every single event with kids and dogs and in homes everywhere.

 Dog bites do happen but it is not as unpredictable as the media would like you to fear. Fear and drama works to and keep you reading.and tuning in. So, enough about my opinion on is what I know to be true.

1. We must take responsibility to learn how our dogs DO communicate discomfort, stress and fear. (see resources at bottom)
2. We must RESPECT what the dog is communicating
So many adults approach a dog because "they are dog people" or "all dogs love them" or "they want to help the poor thing."  And this example of not respecting a dog is ADULTS.  Putting their needs before the dog's comfort and stress.

Above is an image I took while out at a park one day.  This is both lack of education and respect.

If a dog is indicating stress and fear.....RESPECT IT AND LEAVE IT BE!
If people choose to engage despite what the dog is indicating...the dog may become more threatened and react with stronger signaling (such as freezing, whale eye, growling, showing teeth ) other dogs would understand and would respond appropriately to. However, since you are not a dog you may miss these signals and most likely get a more serious reaction or a bite. This is often a death sentence for way too many dogs.  Dogs dialogue with body language and it is an exchange.  We do not communicate in the same way (thank goodness) and often misread their cues and meanings.

A pet peeve of mine is this:
I see adults all the time pushing the limits with their dogs. They think it is funny or cute or it strokes their ego in some way.
When the dog finally reaches his limit attempting to dog body language discomfort, stress or conflict and growls, shows teeth or bites.....the dog is now bad and is punished. REALLY!?! How fair is this? We are supposed to be the "smarter" species right?
So why do some people need to have their egos stroked by pushing dogs to their limits? What does this accomplish? Is it ok to bully your dog because he can't use words to tell you to stop it!?!

I see this especially with Men (sorry) teasing and taunting their small dogs to the point of biting, nipping or growling...cute?!? NOT! I think this is so disrespectful and actually could be a death sentence for that dog if one day, after so many times having their signals ignored by their "trusted" adult, then an unfamiliar child or even family child goes to pet the dog and WHAM! A bite happens and is labeled as "unprovoked" or "out of nowhere" or the list of what they always could do to the dog is given. ex: We always hugged him, he always let us sit on him before etc. Heard it all. The list in and of itself indicates the family knows they have been challenging the "tolerance" of their dog or else there would not be a list of what they could always get away with or the dog put up with. A great article all parents should read here!

This is NOT unprovoked or was caused by a history of basic body language signals not working and being ignored and now the dog no longer offers them to indicate stress or warning. So sad but I see this alot with highly intelligent and successful adults.

I try not to rant and rave but I am very passionate about this subject. Next week beginning Monday we all will get bombarded by stats, reports and media stating dogs are dangerous and "be afraid, be very afraid." type of stuff and it really irritates me. For crying out loud....we have 78.2 million dogs living in this country.

Have you ever googled how many parents kill their own children in a day? Try it
Or just tune into your local news at 5pm (don't want you to loose sleep at 11pm) and then you tell me who we should fear! Just a thought.

I will end my tangent with action steps.
1. Get educated about how your dog communicates!
2. Get your info from the experts who have DOCUMENTATION and proof of facts based on indepth research and directly connected to reliable sources.
3. Check out our Family Paws parent education webinars

****I want to be very clear that I continue to grow and learn every day with every interaction with our 4 legged friends.  I am embarrassed at some of what I used to do and am proud to know that now I know better and hope that you too will be inspired to learn the wonderful language of dogs and enhance your relationship!"**

Let's all have a great "respect your dog" week!  Learning the language of dogs will enhance your bond and decrease miscommunications and stress!

1 comment:

Nicole, trainpetdog dog supplies owner said...

I must agree with this post. Dogs communicate with each other and humans in three ways. By sound, scent and body/facial expressions and movement. They are excellent at reading the facial expressions and body postures of one another as well as humans. Dogs are always reading our body language and they know how we are feeling or what mood we are in by our body language and tone of voice.