After a week of blog posts dedicated to National Dog Bite Prevention Week, I thought it might be fun to end on an uplifting note. This week’s video was first introduced to me by Debbie Jacobs of Fearfuldogs.com. Debbie is an expert in dealing with fearful dogs, like Foster Maggie.
I love this video for a multitude of reasons:
- It features a child learning how to use positive reinforcement to improve the relationship with his bird.
- It demonstrates how easy it is to use positive reinforcement to change a response to something fearful (in this case, Noah). If a child can do this, so can you.
- The smile on Noah’s face when he realizes that his relationship with his bird has changed. It’s an amazing smile and the look of accomplishment says it all.
I hope you will indulge me this week as I skip the cute dog video for one with a wonderful message and purpose. Watch Noah train his bird.
I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Happy Friday everyone!
On Wednesday night, I took the dogs to the dog park (like I usually do). Jasper spent his time chasing after sticks, Daisy explored the woods and Cupcake sniffed to her heart’s desire. We even walked with some friends (Tom and his dogs Ruby and Max), and said hello to a few other friends we know. It was fun evening
It was towards the end of our walk that we first heard them. Children. Little ones. We could also hear their dog barking, and the owner calling it over and over again, with absolutely no success. Trouble was coming. I could just feel it. I called Daisy, Jasper and Cupcake to me and we headed out of the woods and across the field to the far end of the park.
I admit I am always little wary of anyone bringing kids to the park. You just never know what can happen. I watched from across the field as the little children exited the woods with two women. They all turned and walked along the edge of the field – away from us. I breathed a sigh of relief and led my dogs in the opposite direction.
As we walked, I noticed that the older child, about 5 years old, was carrying an arm load of sticks. The other child a toddler about 2-3 years old, followed closely behind him and then stopped to pick up a stick of his own.
The older boy followed his mom and the other woman down the mulched path, away from the toddler. I kept watching as he and the two women kept moving away from the toddler, widening the distance between them. They got a good distance away from him before they even turned to see where he was. They seemed unconcerned that they were so far away from him.
It was then I saw the dog approach. He went right up to the child’s hand and face and grabbed the stick right from his hand. (Luckily, the toddler did not try to take it back.) The dog stayed there, looking at the child, no more than a couple of feet away from him and his face, not moving closer, but also not moving away. It was not until his owner called him back to her, that he finally left the child. Thankfully, he had a great recall.
The whole time this was going on, the mother and other woman just stood there, almost half the length of the dog park away from the toddler. They did not yell, or call his name, or even start to run back to him. They just sent the older son back to retrieve him. I don’t even think they realized how dangerous a position her child had been in. I don’t think she realized how quickly this incident could have turned into a tragedy.
She was damn lucky. How foolish that mother was to bring her small child to a dog park, filled with dogs she did not know, and then leave him in such a terribly vulnerable position. A dog bite could have happened so easily. Another dog could have caused some serious damage to her child. That this dog, or another dog, did not do so is a miracle. That mother was so very lucky that the dog her toddler encountered was well-trained and had a good recall. She was lucky her child encountered a “good” dog. But, let’s face it, even a “good” dog can bite.
We humans have to get better at preventing dog bites. We need to take interactions between dogs and kids more seriously. We need to be more purposeful about where, when and HOW we expose dogs and kids to one another. And, I’m not just talking about stranger’s dogs either. More children are bitten by the family pet than by a dog they do not know.
So how do we get better at keeping both dogs and kids safe?
- Teach kids that they have to ask permission before approaching a strange dog. ALWAYS.
- Educate kids on how to tell when a dog is safe to approach and then how to do so safely. Make it a game. Quiz them in the car and in the park. (Stop the 77 has a great video for pre-schoolers called “I Speak Doggie.”)
- Supervise, whenever a dog and child are together (NO multi-tasking or playing on your cell phone). We need to be completely present and watching their interactions. We also need to be watching for signals that the dog is done with the interaction. (4Paws University shared a great graphic and information today on their Facebook page.) If you see a dog LOOK AWAY, TURN AWAY or MOVE AWAY, the dog has had enough and you need to either remove the dog or the child from the interaction.
- Stop punishing dogs for growling. This is your warning sign that your dog has had enough. When you punish a dog for growling, you are taking away the alarm bell that tells you a bite could happen. (4Paws University shared a great graphic on this one too.)
- Teach our kids how to act when a strange dog approaches them that is scary. (Doggone Safe shows children how to Be Like A Tree in order to avoid a dog bite.)
- Stop pretending that your dog is different from other dogs and that they like having a child climbing on them. They really don’t. Do you like it when a child pulls your hair, yanks on your ear, steps on your gut, kicks your leg or bites you? No? If we don’t like it, then why do we expect dogs to like it any better? It’s not cute. It’s rude (and dangerous).
When a dog bites a child, everyone pays a price.
You lose a dog and a best friend.
Your child loses a friend and his love and trust of dogs.
The dog loses its life.
The kind of behavior displayed in the video below (And if that doesn’t scare you enough, maybe this one will.) has lose-lose results for everyone. Let’s make it stop.
Stop pretending dogs don’t bite.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23).
I’ve been planning for this week for a few months now; collecting videos, graphics and other information, so that I could share it with all of you.
Even with all the prep work, I know that not everyone will read it. This subject is not as sexy as the latest news story about a lost dog or harrowing dog rescue story, but it is a very real problem with huge impacts. Did you know?
- 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year
- 1 in 5 are bad enough to require medical attention
- It is estimated that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims (You can see the top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2014 here.)
- In that same year, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed to repair injuries caused by dog bites (Information provided by the AVMA for Bite Prevention Week)
It’s not just the emotional and physical damage one experiences when a dog bites, but it is also the cost. Not cheap is it?
One of the most common things people do, that can lead to a bite, is hug their dog.
I know. I know. Your dog LOVES to be hugged. So do mine. Well actually, they really don’t. Jasper hates them. Cupcake will tolerate them. Daisy is the only one who actually invites a hug from time to time. How do I know? Because I closely watched their behavior when I did so. They stiffened up, pulled away, turned their heads and did several lip licks. Hugs are just not their thing.
You don’t have to be a dog trainer to see the signs that a dog does not want to be hugged. Just look at her body language.
- Does she pull away from you?
- Does she turn her head away from you when you try to get close?
- Does she seem uncomfortable when you get too near her?
- Does she put a paw up to keep you away when you try to hug her?
If so, then believe her. She is not trying to be cute. It is not her puppy dog way of trying to be funny. She is telling you that she does not like you in her space. (To paraphrase a quote from Maya Angelou – When a dog shows you what they like/dislike, believe them. They are not kidding.)
The video below provides a great example of a dog giving really clear signals that a hug is not okay. You don’t have to be a dog trainer to see all the signs, but I am glad his owner calls them out anyways. Observe how many signs and how many times this dog tries to let his owner know that he does not want to be hugged.
I wonder how often our own dogs give us these cues.
I wonder how often we miss them.
This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23).
Every year, more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs. By far, children are the most frequent victims of dog bites. They are also the most likely to be severely injured when a dog bites.
I was one of those children. In fact, I was bitten twice, by two different dogs at two different times. In both cases, I was at fault. Of course, each of the dogs bore the blame for the bite. One was euthanized. It’s something I wish I could go back and change, but since I cannot, I focus on spreading the word instead. Children and dogs can be a volatile combination, especially when you have younger children.
There are lots of ways you can keep kids safe, but among them are these:
- Don’t let your small child (especially those on the same eye level as a dog) stare a dog in eye – In dog body language this can be seen as a threat and it could well end up in a bite. This is what caused me to be bitten.
- Tell children that hugs are for humans, not for dogs – Despite what “your” dog does or does not like, most dogs do not like to be hugged. They also don’t like to be climbed on, stepped on, or crawled over, so when you see a small child doing this, stop him. Remove him or the dog from the situation.
- Teach your children to ask before they pet – One should never assume that all dogs like kids. Children need to know that not all dogs can be approached. If they would like to meet a dog, they should ask the owner first. It’s not only polite, but safer for the child and the dog.
- Always supervise small children around dogs – Many dogs are unnerved by the jerky and unsteady movements of small children. If your dog is lip licking, his ears are back, he is turning away or trying to get away, or is growling, remove the dog from the room and give him a safe place to go where the child cannot get to him.
- Understand every dog has the potential to bite. Yes, even your family dog can bite – Children are most often bitten by the family dog, not a stranger’s dog. Just because you have had your dog since a puppy doesn’t mean he won’t bite. Given the right situation (pain, fear, excitement, etc.) any dog can bite.
This week I will be sharing information (like the great infographic below) on my blog and on my Facebook page to bring attention to National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The goal is two-fold – 1) to keep kids safe from dog bites, and 2) to prevent dogs from being euthanized because of a bite that could have been prevented.
I hope you will share and spread the word. Let’s keep both kids and dogs safe.
Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.
Today’s Favorite Friday video will take your heart, melt it, and leave it in a little puddle on your floor. No seriously. It will.
It’s not just the cute little puppy that grabs your heart. The two resident dogs will totally capture it too. They were so amazing with little Vici. They played with her, treated her gently and showed her the ropes.
Watching a Border Collie and a Malinois, play with this puppy was a real treat. You do not see breeds like this every day, and to see them play so gently with her tells you a lot about the owner. Border Collies and Malinois’ are extremely intelligent, high energy dogs, that are driven to do a job. They need a handler who understands their needs. The fact that they look so well-adjusted tells you that they have the very best kind of dog owner. I’d say this puppy is going to thrive.
I hope you will love this video as much as I did.
What a beautiful set of dogs.
Happy Friday everyone!