How many times we said “Oh! Look how good our dog is with the child! The child can sit on him and he does not do anything! The child can pull the fur and he does not react! Such a good dog! ”…until one day, the dog bites the child, and automatically the animal becomes the bad dog. This is what I call a ‘warning bite.’ The warning bite is usually to the face or hand and while traumatic for the child, is often not serious in a medical nature.
There are many warning signals before the dog will lose completely his patience and bites, but these can be very subtle and they can be missed by the family members. Sometimes the warning has gone on for months or years before the dog finally loses his tolerance and bites. There are different signs that parents should learn to recognize and teach them to their children, and they include:
·The dog gets up and moves away from the child.
·The dog turns his head away from the child.
·The dog looks at you with a pleading expression.
·You can see the "whites" of the dogs eyes, in a half moon shape.
·The dog yawns while the child approaches or is interacting with him.
·The dog licks his chops while the child approaches or is interacting with him.
·The dog suddenly starts scratching, biting or licking himself.
·The dog does a big "wet dog shake" after the child stops touching him.
Do not forget that beside to get just bitten by your dog, the Curse of a Good Dog has serious implications for your child regarding other dogs. If you do not teach your child how to properly behave with the dog, he will acquire unsafe habits of behavior around all dogs. There is one important thing that people do not know about dogs: DOG DISLIKE HUGS AND KISSES! When you put your face very close to the dog’s face, or you look straight in the eyes of your dog, the animal feels uncomfortable, because these are behaviours of challenge.
It is important that you learn the body language of a worried dog and compare them with when your dog looks happy or relaxed. Unless you’ve got a suggestion box where your dog can write you a note and stamp it with a paw print, body language is all your dog has. Instead of expecting more and more of our good dogs, let’s honor their nature with our guidance and protection.
Dr. Sara Platto is an Italian Veterinarian and holds a PhD in Psychobiology, www.saraplatto.com.