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Lets get real, Is the dog really to blame?

Lets get real, Is the dog really to blame?

Well, I feel like I am a broken record saying the same thing over and over again, when it comes to Dog Safety and how to stay safe around dogs.

The reported dog attacks over the last few weeks here in NZ, are certainly a cause for concern but are the dogs really to blame? Easier to blame the dog than the owner or the person who was supposed to be supervising because they can’t stand up for themselves and tell their side of the story.  Dogs don’t just bite, most bites are the caused by inappropriate behaviour by adults and children   as well as people not seeing and reading the dogs warning signs. All too often the dog pays the price, with its life.

77% of dog bites come from the family dog or a friends dog and a good percentage of the victims are children. Many, not all, of these bites stem from inappropriate greetings and play as well as, dogs being generally put in, bad situations

While it may be good the media report and highlight these instances they fuel the fire but we “the public” very rarely get to hear the full story.

In my opinion, there are 3 things which have greatly contributed to the rise in dog bites/attacks over the last few years in both children and adults. 77% of dog bites come from the family dog or a friends dog and a good percentage of the victims are children. Many, not all, of these bites result from inappropriate greetings and play.

1. Human Complacency.

People feel too comfortable & secure and don’t see or are unaware/oblivious to the potential dangers living with a dog can bring. Dogs have been put on a pedestal, too much is expected of them. They have to act and behave and be good dogs, in any given situation. As if humans would do the same, if the roles were reversed. Dogs are not human they don’t think the same as we do, they need to be treated with respect and understanding. After all we are living with an animal that can move faster than us in everyway, who has teeth that can do a lot of damage and in many cases is stronger than us.  If I were not talking about a dog but another animal, say a Tiger, Horse or even a Cat, would people be so complacent?

2.  A she’ll-be-right attitude, which is quite self explanatory

3. People looking but not seeing.

Lack of supervision, supervision for many  these days means taking a quick glance around at what the dog, kids or other adults are doing while chatting on the phone. working on the computer, having coffee with friends maybe even in another room, going for a walk with your dog and not paying attention to what is going on around you. The list is endless. If you can’t be watching 100% of the time, its quite easy to remove the dog or person/people from the situation, and if you are out walking, leash your dog.

By looking and not seeing, you are not seeing if your dog is, being teased, harassed, bullied or is or is frightened, stressed or distressed. All animals talk to us including dogs, (via body language) if we choose to watch and listen. As humans, we won’t tolerate being teased, harassed or bullied, so why should dogs?  As humans, we may feel frightened, stressed or distressed at times and what do we do?   We seek help, comfort, support, so why not help, comfort and support, dogs. After all they are supposed to be mans best friend, so dog owners need to become educators  so they can teach others including non dog owners, how to act, behave and communicate, when in the company of their dog or anyone else’s.

So what do dogs need from us? they need love, boundaries, rules, guidance, protection, consistency and a safe place to call their own, a place they can go, to have a break, from kids, you, your friends, other dogs and to just chill. They need time spent with them on a daily basis. They need you to understand them and stand up for them, when they are unhappy, stressed, frightened or are being teased, harassed or bullied. They need you to look and see and not to be complacent, and not to be afraid to say NO to that child or adult or even another dog & owner, if their behaviour is unacceptable. Remember, dog owners its ok to say “NO”

Always remember, its your dog, your house, your rules and when you are out its your dog your rules.

These days there is a lot of information about dog safety out there and there is no real reason why people should not be, well informed. I often hear “my dog is good with kids” (maybe be good with your kids but not someone else’s) “my dog won’t bite”(any dog will bite given the right set of circumstances) “my dog is a good dog” even good dogs bite if they are teased, hit, abused or put in a bad situation.

I personally hand out dog safety information along with the training FAQ sheets to all my clients. If they are new expectant parents I cover that also. I find myself now teaching people how to protect themselves when they are out walking, with or without their dog, from unwanted attention from off leash dogs, which in reality, I shouldn’t have to  be doing.

If we want to turn the tide and reduce the number of dog bites/attacks maybe its time that all dog trainers/behaviourists, training clubs, vets who run puppy schools, private trainers, SPCA, Rescues, Schools and Plunket get on board and provide basic dog safety information to their clients, children and parents. All people, (children & adults)) whether they are dog owners or not, need to know how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. All dogs speak to us, if we choose to watch and listen.

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Posted by on May 9, 2016 in About

 

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“Hi Its’s ok I am Friendly”, the stranger said, as he ran up to you, with his arms wide open, ready to hug you. How would that make you feel?

“Hi Its’s ok I am Friendly”, the stranger said, as he ran up to you, with his arms wide open, ready to hug you. How would that make you feel?

Dogs need space, same as we do, Imagine if a total stranger were to come running up to you shouting “Hi its ok, I am friendly” then proceeded to try and hug you, invading your personal space, how would it make you feel?, would you feel threatened, frightened, scared or uncomfortable? What would you do? Try to move away, tell that person to back-off and if they didn’t, maybe lash out. You would consider that person to have no manners or respect. In other words unacceptable behaviour.

Dogs are no different, they need their our own space too. Yet many dogs have to put up with that kind of behaviour from other dogs, on a daily basis, who’s owners think its ok, to let their dog barge right on up, while shouting “Its ok my dog is friendly” without asking, if its ok to do so.

Its all about manners and respect, we as humans expect to be shown some manners and respect and dogs are no different.

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in About

 

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What Parents, Educators & Dog Owners should know and be able to tell & teach adults & children, on how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. Most dog bites are preventable.

What Parents, Educators & Dog Owners should know and be able to tell & teach adults & children, on how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. Most dog bites are preventable.

77% of dog bites are caused by the family dog or a friends dog. Dogs are dogs not substitute human children and all have the potential to harm. While they make great companions and are a lot of fun, people often, feel too secure and comfortable when in the company of them and don’t see or are oblivious to the potential dangers.

After all you are living/interacting  with an animal, that is quicker/faster than you, in every way, has sharp teeth that can do a lot of damage and in a lot of cases, is stronger.

If I were describing another animal, say for instance, a Tiger,  would you feel as secure and comfortable in the company of one them, of course you wouldn’t, because they have the potential to harm or kill you. You would be very aware, safety and knowing how to act and behave, would be your top priority.

Dogs are no different, they need to be treated with respect and understanding and sometimes human expectations are too high, they don’t think like we do, they are, after all, a different species. Please watch the The Family Dog, stop the 77 video below.

Parents, educators & dog owners have a responsibility to teach children and adults how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. Both kids and adults need to know about basic dog safety and awareness, because for the most part, children under the age of 12yrs are the one’s who get bitten. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of adults who get chomped on, as well.

Even if you are not a dog owner, everyone needs to know how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. You may not have a dog but the chances are, you know someone who does.

Below is a very good graphic from family paws, on the 5 types of supervision, it is too easy to get caught up in doing something else and not being aware of what is going on around you, such as talking or texting on the phone or on the computer, chatting or having coffee with friends, the list is endless.

Parents & dog owners, need to do more than just supervise, when children, adults and dogs are together. They need to be watching 100% of the time.

Dogs do talk to us if we watch, observe and listen. They need to watch out for signs of stress in the dog, such as: changes in facial expression, licking of the lips, and the dog’s general demeanour. If you are unsure remove the dog from the situation, it only takes a second for something bad to happen.

5-types-Supervision-LowRes

TV and Movies often portray “The good family dog” but don’t be fooled, these dogs are well trained, and they have trainers on the sets with them. If you want a well-trained and adjusted dog, you have to put the time and effort in. They need guidance, direction and boundaries, as do children.

Even people who have been around dogs all their life’s should Never assume that a strange dog is going to be friendly towards them, remember you may think you know dogs but that strange dog doesn’t know you. It may see you as an intruder or a threat. There are many things that can cause a dog to bite you, so please take the time to read 5 easy ways to get bitten by a dog  and Dog Owners its ok to say NO!

Dog Safety Advice for All

Never leave a child alone with a dog, because a child’s actions may inadvertently trigger an unwanted response, and the child may get bitten.

Never tease a dog. (E.g.: shouting & yelling, barking, throwing things, pulling faces & ears etc). These actions can cause a dog to attack because it may feel threatened or frightened If the dog is confined in a yard or tied up it will not forget the teasing, and if the opportunity presents itself, it will get its own back.

Always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog. If the owner is not around leave the dog alone. If it is a stray dog, stay well away.

Never run away from a dog and Never run away screaming and shouting, because a dogs natural instinct it to chase and catch its prey.

Never enter a yard with a dog in it; always ask permission from the owner.

Never stare into the eyes of a dog, the dog may see it as a threat or a challenge to fight.

Always approach dogs calmly, carefully and slowly. Let the dog see and sniff you that’s how they get to know you and never approach a dog from behind.

Dogs like to play rough, they don’t have hands like you or I, and they jump up and use their mouths to grab hold and hang on. So do not jump, wave your arms around or scream when playing around dogs, these actions excite and stimulate the dogs chase response.

Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.

If you are approached by a strange dog stand very still and remain calm. Don’t scream and shout, stand sideways and don’t stare, that tells the dog, via body language, that you are non confrontational, then slowly move away, by taking small steps, if you can.

Never approach a strange dog. (You will never know what it will do).

Never put your hand through a fence or a window of a parked car to pat a dog, because it will bite you.

Never disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for pups.

Never try to separate dogs that are fighting.

If you are knocked over by a dog, Always protect your face, arms & neck and roll up into a ball and remain very still.

If you get bitten tell an adult.

Never put your face close to a dog.

Never hug your dog or any dog around the neck because you may trigger the dogs bite reflex and the dog will bite you.

Children should not take their dog out for a walk unless accompanied by an adult, because if a situation arises e.g.: encounter with a stray dog, children don’t have the strength or presence of mind, to act quickly enough.

Be careful when handling a dog who is in pain or injured, it may bite you. Always, take precautions.

Always, try to be relaxed and calm around dogs, erratic movements could startle a dog or they may think you are teasing them.

Never take your dog on someone else’s property without finding out first, if it is OK to do so.

Fast-moving outdoor athletes should keep a safe distance between them and dog walkers. (E.g.: joggers, Cyclists etc). Again, these actions trigger the dog’s natural chase response.

Never run or walk up behind a dog, (even one you know) and try to pat it. Always, let a dog know you are there, let it see and sniff you.

Below is another very good info graphic from Doggone safe, although it says holiday tips, these tips can keep everyone safe year round.

holiday bite prevention tips

More information with graphics can be found @ http://www.zerobitesdogtraining.com/bittenP1.html
Also take time to read the NZ herald Dog Attack feature
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/dog-attacks/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=575

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in About

 

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Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue?

Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue?

Very good article, and again a must read. Will help to reduce the number of reported dog bites and the many more that are not reported. Dogs do talk to us but we have to watch and listen. 77% of dog bites are caused by the family dog or friends dog. If you can’t be watching your dog a 100% of the time, when around children or adults for that matter, remove the dog or people from the situation. As dog owners its our job to watch out for our dogs and teach kids and adults how to act and behave when in the company of our dogs or anyone else’s for that matter.

Dogs and Babies...Learning to Live Happily Ever After

Heads Up!…I’ve moved this blog to my new website:  DogsandBabiesLearning.com.  You can find this post and comments through mid-November here.  If you are subscribing, commenting, linking or sharing, please do so from the new website.

I prepared this slide for my Dogs and Babies – Play It Safe! class as a way to illustrate one reason why dog bites to children might seem to happen “out of the blue.”

Before thinking more closely about it, we tend to think that “Good Dogs” live on the left side of the continuum and “Bad Dogs” live to the right.  That’s because good dogs don’t bite children, do they?  Once you determine that you have a “Good Dog,” you tend to leave it at that and just go about your life with dog and baby.

What we forget to consider is that just like us, dogs have good days and…

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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in About

 

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Should dog/puppy training classes cover more than just the basic commands & behaviours?

Should dog/puppy training classes cover more than just the basic commands & behaviours?

Training classes in many forms are run all over the country, should dog/puppy training classes cover more than just the basic commands & behaviours? I know some do,  I personally think all should, we, not just here in New Zealand but worldwide are seeing an increase in dog bites/attacks as well as certain behaviours. When an incident of an attack is reported by the media, one thing that is always mentioned is, the call for more education.

Although there are plenty of dog safety education programs and information out there for the public and dog owners alike, how much of that information is actually sort out by the general public or dog owners.

Unfortunately, in today’s society many people are too complacent when it comes to dogs, in other words, they feel too secure and comfortable in the company of dogs and are unaware or oblivious to the potential dangers. After all, dogs are faster than humans, they have teeth that can do a lot of damage, and in many cases are stronger. So forget for a minute I am talking about dogs, If I were talking about tigers, would people be so complacent?

In order to effect a change in people’s thinking, yes education is the key, it’s no harder than it was, to educate people to wear seat belts while in a vehicle or teaching people, to look both ways before crossing the road.

As a dog trainer/behaviorist ( we are educators) how many include information in the way of FAQ sheets as well as talking/showing, dog owners, you teach, the do’s and don’ts of dog safety (in other words how to act and behave when in the company of dogs). As well as giving them the lowdown on the dog control act.

So your clients have the tools to protect their dog and educate others, how to act and behave when in the company of their dog or anyone’s for that matter. 77% of dog bites are caused by the family dog or a friends dog.

We as dog trainers/behaviorist have the opportunity to make a difference and become part of the solution and turn the tide.

Other articles you may find of interest: 5 easy ways to get bitten by a dog  Dog owners its ok to say no!  Greeting People may make your dog scared or uncomfortable  Socialising your dog, its all about your dog, its not what you think, your dog needs or should be able to handle  How well do you supervise your dog when around kids or other people

 

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2015 in About

 

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Muzzles: For many dogs, a gateway to fun

Muzzles: For many dogs, a gateway to fun

I am personally a big fan of muzzles, they can give dog owners peace of mind, and they enable dogs to go out and have fun.

The Muzzle Up! Project

Many dogs have to wear muzzles. Some are required to by law (breed-specific legislation). Some are fearful. Some eat rocks, feces, or garbage on the street.

The Muzzle Up! Project strives to erase the social stigma that comes with owning a dog that wears a muzzle. After all, when dogs are trained using positive reinforcement, they come to enjoy their muzzle, because the muzzle predicts good things (food, walks, fun with their humans). Muzzles also keep fearful and aggressive dogs safe, preventing them from possibly hurting another human or dog, while allowing them to still enjoy being a dog. And, unfortunately, some dog owners have no choice, since breed-specific legislation requires their dogs to wear one.

This blog post is a celebration of the humans who are doing it right: Desensitizing and counterconditioning their dogs to muzzles, finding creative ways to have fun with their dogs, and giving their dogs…

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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in About

 

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“Playing” at the dog park – Red Alert Behaviors

“Playing” at the dog park – Red Alert Behaviors

Another great article from No Dog About it Blog, again talking about playing at the dog park – red alert behaviours and why dogs need to be supervised, when off lead.

Same can be said if your dog goes to a doggie daycare or boarding kennels. If dogs are running free in groups, they need to have someone watching 100% of the time to watch out for, changes in behaviour, such as over excitement, stress, bullying and aggression.

No Dog About It Blog

Poor guy has a lot of dogs checking him out. Nice dog too. #dogparkThis past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop on dog interactions, dog behavior, aggression and behavior management. One session focused on behaviors often seen at dog parks and doggy daycares. It was eye-opening, mind-expanding and thought-provoking.

One of the key learnings I took away from the seminar had to do with what we often like to think of as “playing” at the dog park. (Hint: Most of what we see at the dog park is not playing.)

When we think of dogs playing, what do we often see them doing? Chasing?  Wrestling? Playing tug? Probably all of those right? But what are we missing?

If you’ve watched any of Sue Sternberg‘s dog park videos, probably a lot. Dogs are always communicating with one another, whether it be before, during or after their interactions with one another. What we consider “play” at the dog park is often not play, but something else, something…

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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in About

 

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