Child bitten, stupid parents, bad dog, bad luck?

Recently another child bitten in Australia by a dog he was interacting with. We shared this story on our Facebook page and of courseit has gone viral with comments from dog lovers calling the parents irresponsible and stupid.

At first thought it is easy to go that way, but ask yourself, “do you feel that these parents or the grandparents wanted the child hurt?

I would guess, like in most cases, they trusted the dog explicitly and the dog biting is out of character for this dog and they are completely shocked.

Does this make them irresponsible?

Probably not, and I think the problem runs a little deeper than irresponsible parenting in these situations.

Here is a story from when I was a kid and it shows you how things have changed.

I went with my dad to see his friend one afternoon. On arrival I saw a young pup on a chain in the yard and bee lined for it.

My dads friend told me to leave it alone as he wanted it to be a guard dog and my dad backed this up by telling me to leave it alone.

As soon as they went inside, I was playing with and cuddling the pup and had a great afternoon, making sure I was outside of the chain length any time an adult was looking.

We went home, and I think it was about a year later we visited again and inside went my dad. I of course went looking for the pup who was in his kennel, still on the chain.

As I approached the now older (now guard) dog charged at me and I moved like a rocket to get outside of the chains reach. As I was approaching the end of the dogs reach, it bit me on the arse, motivating me to move faster!

I said nothing to my dad and found something else to do.

Later that day my dad saw the tear in my shorts and put two and two together and he knew I had been near that dog, and then he swiftly booted me in the arse!

It was never the dog’s fault. No one ever thought it was. The dog was a guard dog, it was meant to guard. I was told to leave the dog alone. It was my fault.

Now this was in the day in which dogs were seemingly not regarded as much as they are now. After all, this dog lived on a chain.

But these days, we have a much deeper relationships with our dogs, many of them live in our homes, sleep in our beds and we care for them as they are family, but still dogs can be expected to be ridden, pulled at, hit and smacked, have their food taken and be everyone’s friend regardless of age, health, breed, history and painful points.

Why?

Our expectations on dogs has grown into a something that just is never going to work.

Dogs are living beings, they respond to stimulus, they hurt and feel things just like we do BUT, they don’t understand that if they bite or scar someone that it can cause trauma, injury, death or do they have any thoughts about the long-term effects.

EDUCATION

Dogs need to be trained but even more so do people.

When you are going to get a dog to add to your family, do your research!

Try not to be selfish and pick a dog because you like the look or colour but neglect to accept that the dog may be a working breed and probably will not sit around all day waiting for you too take him or her for awalk every few days.

Research what will be the training requirements for owning a dog and what will be needed to make sure the dog is safe and predictable inpublic.

I am not talking about how to train your dog to be an Obedience Champion or Agility super star, I am talking about Life Skills.

Meaning, what will it take in terms of socialisation, training, management and other education to raise a responsible, well-adjusted happy dog.

This is YOU educating YOU so that you know how to help your dog.

In my experience, many people get a dog and assume it will just grow into a nice dog all by itself.

As Darryl Kerrigan said, “your dreamin!”.

Tell im he’s dreamin!

Respect

Each individual deserves respect, people, kids, dogs, all animals really, and to respect the dog means to understand that he or she can:-

  • Need space
  • Prefer to eat in peace
  • Be scared
  • Be overstimulated
  • Lash out when in pain
  • Fail to control themselves when emotional
  • Need training to better deal with certain events
  • Need management so they don’t have to deal with everything all at once
  • Fail to understand the trauma they can cause with a little bit
  • Need us as their owners to advocate for them and not putthem in situations in which they cannot deal with without letting us down

In Conclusion…

So perhaps the parents are stupid, or not stupid, maybe the dog is a nice dog or isn’t, it doesn’t really matter does it?

If you own a dog, you need to take responsibility for that dog and to do so this means teach your dog, protect it from things that he or she does not understand, or situations that he or she cannot deal with or this will go on and on.

Respect your dog, your child and yourself by not expecting the dog to entertain your child.

My children have dogs and they think of them respectfully, they do not hit them, pull them or ride them, we would not allow that.

We do not leave our children unsupervised with our dogs, even though I have trained the dogs and educated the children, it never happens.

If something went wrong, how would the dog tell its side?

It will just fall like this, your dog lover and it was never the dog’s fault, you’re not a dog lover and its always the dogs fault…

Consider it may be your fault.

Take another look at what you need to teach your dogs and your kids and what management will keep everyone safe.

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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2 comments

  1. Another bit of input (since you liked my previous point): something many people cannot seem to wrap their heads around is the human does not decide what the dog sees as threatening or scary….the dog decides that. You can work to change alter or ameliorate this with varying degrees of success depending on the dog’s inherent temperament and personality (which can vary greatly even within the same breed) and your skill as a rrainer. Knowing the dog and what to do for and with that particular dog to solve the problems is the art and essence of dog training.

  2. i agree…people need to understand that a dog is not an object but a separate and distinct being of its own and they need to be mindful of that. My personal perspective is that dog training is really much more a flotsam of interaction between you and the dog than people realize. You train to get consistent reliable behaviours but you have no guarantees. You can get almost breathtaking results depending on the skill and motivation of the trainer and ability and motivation of the dog. A dog is not an object……it is a being with whom you are constantly communicating whether you are formally training or not.

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