as a human of two loving pups, i know that no pet owner wants to accept that their precious Fido might one day take a chomp out of a neighborhood kid.
as a human to two loving pups that many people consider “dangerous breeds” i have come to understand the importance of educating yourself and those around you about responsible pet ownership and safe animal handling practices.
because the fact is, any dog can and will bite when placed in the wrong circumstances – no matter what the breed.
this is not a post rallying for the ‘pit bull’ breed (although i warn you that it is a subject dear to my heart, so there may be some of those later on). the purpose of this post is to try and help people realize that judging an entire group of dogs based on the actions of one dog (or in many cases, dog owner) is wrong. i cannot stress how important it is to treat every dog as an individual and more importantly, with respect. if you encounter a ‘pit bull’ breed that makes you uncomfortable, please do not assume that every dog of that breed will attack without provocation. in turn, please do not assume that your sweet, even-tempered family pet will not bite if she is placed in a situation where she feels scared or unsafe.
there are many ways to educate yourself and your family/friends about pet safety. i highly recommend this website. this statement from their homepage reflects the mission of the site:
“Despite 12,000 years of living with dogs, they remain largely misunderstood by humans. When a dog bites we interpret this in human terms. In most cases the bite is a normal dog behavior. The dog that bites is not necessarily a mean dog or a bad dog – he is just a dog. To prevent dog bites we need to understand what motivates the dog to bite and reduce risk through modification of both human and dog behavior.”
the website has resources for reading and understanding doggie body language. by learning to ‘speak dog‘ pet owners can identify when their pet is in a potentially dangerous situation and remove the trigger or remove the pet from the situation. there is also information for parents, soon-to-be-parents, and children.
i cannot stress HOW IMPORTANT it is to educate your children pet safety. all too often i see parents who let their children run wild around animals without teaching them the proper way to interact with them. family pets are an important staple in childhood and should function as not only a ‘friend’ to the child but also a learning tool for responsiblity, animal interaction, and humanity. set ground rules of how your child should interact with the family pet and more importantly set boundaries for what kind of interaction is NOT allowed (i.e. children should never pull a dogs tail or ears, attempt to hug or kiss a dog, etc.). NEVER leave a young child unsupervised with a dog, whether it is a family pet or not – accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.
to wrap up:
judge every dog individually based upon its own actions.
be a responsible pet owner, know your dog’s behavior and be prepared to remove him/her from potentially bad situations.
educate your family and friends on pet safety and advise them of any behavior quirks your dog may have (i.e. jumping, licking, etc.).
set ground rules for children interacting with dogs.
NEVER leave a child unattended with a dog.
if you do your research and develop healthy interactive habits with your dog (and children, if you have them), there is no reason that a dog can’t be a happy, healthy member of the family. and that makes everyone’s tail wag.