Lately, I have noticed a lot more dog bite prevention information finding its way on to Facebook and the like, and it got me thinking, I wonder how many people, actually stop and read any of this information, or have many, become immune and don’t even give it a second glance.
Whenever a reported dog attack/bite incident hits the news, it creates a feeding frenzy, unfortunately in many cases, we the public don’t get to hear the full story and yet for many it fuels a lively debate, on what should be done, what isn’t being done but one thing that always seems to come up, somewhere along the way, is the need for more education.
There are many good education programs and resources out there already both online and offline. So what is going on here, I know funding can be an issue for some, even here in New Zealand but are we doing enough?
Is complacency to blame, do we see dogs too much as part of the family and forget that they are dogs. All too often they are put in situations, (whether it be at home or away), we would not put ourselves in, if the roles were reversed, and yet we expect them to behave and be good dogs.
As a dog trainer, I personally talk to and hand out information sheets to all my clients on dog safety and dog bite prevention. I also tell them they have to become teachers/educators and teach and show anyone who comes into contact with their dog, how to act and behave. Which I know can be hard because many worry they may offend someone, by telling them what to do.
I wonder how many dog trainers, behaviorist, dog training clubs, Veterinary practices (who frequently run puppy classes) pet shops, rescues, dog breeders etc do the same.
I think Molly Summer (Kindred Companions LLC) hit the nail on the head in a recent article she wrote.
Titled: “You’ll think twice about taking your dog’s photo after reading this…” (to read the full article click on the link)
“Dog trainers and behavioral consultants see it and we warn the public. We tell owners that “dogs don’t like hugs and kisses”. We explain dog body language and try to open a channel of communication. And finally we try to set healthy boundaries for families and pets. But for some reason all of this education and warning fall on deaf ears. This phenomenon is a relatively new thing. Sure dogs have been family pets for hundreds of years. But the requirement that a dog be tolerant of anything done to it, especially from a child “that doesn’t know better” is new. Most parents wouldn’t leave their toddler alone with a horse, a parrot, or even a cat, but for some reason, a dog is no longer an animal. Instead it is everything but an animal.
Perhaps Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are partially to blame. Dogs are no longer the family pet. They are the decoration in family photos. The dog is supposed to be the child’s “best friends” but did anyone ask the dog? And even if they are, the meaning of “best friend” is to care about that friend’s needs and concerns. Forcing them to interact while expressing discomfort is not treating them like “best friends.” And before an owner says that they “didn’t see the signs”, ignorance is no excuse. If your best friend spoke a different language you’d do your best to try to understand it. Yet for some reason, dog language rarely becomes part of the conversation. ….”