Did you know the months of March through May is International Bite Prevention? Since we’re about half way through, I thought about writing a bit about it and then my sister sent me the video I posted below, so what great timing!
Lately, I’ve been meeting people who have children and are looking into adopting dogs. While the parents are talking with the shelter or rescue about a type of dog they are looking for, often times, their children are captivated by the dogs in the kennels. They are eager in meeting their new companion and are readily trusting of the dogs and slide their tiny fingers through the kennel doors. Children are fearlessly exploring their environments through their senses. On the opposite end, the dogs confined in kennels during adoption events may be afraid and most certainly, they are stressed out. They are in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by unfamiliar people and possibly other unfamiliar dogs. This can make any even tempered dog become on edge which can illicit a fear response such as nipping or even biting a child’s hand which is slipped through the kennel door. A word of caution which can be a general rule of thumb for all children, “if it has teeth, it can bite”. Children learn about their sense of awareness through their caregivers who give boundaries on how to proceed. These boundaries and increased sense of awareness will allow for children in deepening their understanding and appreciation for all things in this world and in this case, the sensitivities of other living beings.
If a family with children makes the commitment in adopting a dog into their furever home, all the adults in the household also make a commitment in creating a mutually respected home between all people, including children and their pets. In my short tenure as a dog trainer, I’ve worked with many people who have small children and pets. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon, but what is uncommon is how the adults perceive what the dogs enjoy and what the dogs are communicating with us.
“On Talking Terms with Dogs” by Turid Rugas, she clearly and quite concisely depicts the canine body language exhibited by dogs. She coined the behaviors exhibited by dogs as calming signals. Calming signals such as lip licking, looking away even sniffing the ground are body language signs the dog is conveying to either calm themselves down during a heightened period of stress or help another dog or even a human to take a chill pill. These appeasement behaviors are classified as lower level calming signals. A dog may also try to avoid the stress too by walking away. If a dog doesn’t have a break in the stress, the dog will invariably increase their responses until there is a break. Sometimes, this results in the dog biting. The dog bites to make whatever is stressing him out to stop!
The video below is a great example of a dog communicating the stress is too much and its desire to stop it. The reluctance and even the disregard on the part of the dog owner only perpetuates the situation.
Baby jumps on dog(PLEASE NOTE – This case was resolved two years ago). To those who might think these situations are funny… Dogs speak loud and clear but when nobody listens and accidents happen, dogs are blamed. WE DID NOT MAKE this video, someone else did, WE SIMPLY EDITED IT and added the dog language appeasement and avoidance signals in order to educate parents and prevent accidents from happening in the first place. We do not support this type of human-animal contact. We are responsible pet ownership advocates.
Posted by Dogue Shop on Friday, December 21, 2012