I’ve seen some crazy videos of people allowing their children to crawl over their dogs only to see the dog correct – not attack – the child. The keyword here being, “correct.”
I’ve also heard some pretty crazy stories during my years as a dog trainer that have the same plot: a person gets too comfortable with a dog; the dog gets fed up and corrects the person by biting them.
I’m not saying to stop giving your dogs kisses or hugs; I’m simply saying to recognize when your dog isn’t feeling it. That includes teaching children how to interact with dogs, like petting only if they have permission and always under supervision.
So many bites to kids happen when no-one is looking, and at the end of the day, it’s the dog that is going to pay the ultimate price.
I had a consultation last week involving a small 20-pound terrier mix that bit a child. As always, I get called about an aggressive dog, and when I show up and get all the details, it turns out the dog was correcting the child for overstepping a boundary.
When I explained to the owner the dog actually had a healthy response, he was kind of baffled, but ultimately understood the child took too much liberty with the dog.
If the dog was truly aggressive, he would be pursuing children with the intent to do harm and there would have been many more instances of bites – serious ones, at that.
Instead, the girl was left with red marks from where he made contact, but didn’t break skin. He also bit after growling at the girl in warning, which she overlooked.
The dog had no intent to do harm, only the intent to teach the child to respect his personal space. Just like we have our own preferences in boundaries and who we allow into our personal space, so do dogs.
I wouldn’t like to go to someone’s home just to have their kid jump into my lap, so why would I expect any dog to accept that kind of behavior? Dogs are very honest and will most certainly let you know you’re taking things too far.
Remember, dogs can’t communicate via words like we do; they use body language – usually in the form of their mouth – as a means of communication, which may result in a bite. So, always keep in mind that not all dogs are happy-go-lucky. Be respectful; all living things deserve respect – except mosquitos. I hate mosquitos.
Jesus San Miguel
Canine Perspective, Inc.