Dogged delusion

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 May 2014

It was most uncanny to read the letter in today’s Exmouth Journal (“Fear of dogs is being indulged”, Opinion, April 24).

Ms Fox’s comments about a parent’s responsibility to teach children how to behave around dogs reminded me of a time recently on Shelley Beach when a small dog came running up to and jumping up at our daughter.

The more scared our daughter became, the more excited the dog became, and so on and so on. In response to my many, loud requests for the owners to control their dog, their response was to blame us for not bringing up our daughter correctly!

Thus I don’t know whether to be more angered or saddened by Ms Fox’s breathtakingly arrogant and ignorant comments. She obviously has absolutely no knowledge or understanding about the pathology and psychology of fear.

Like many other parents we have no idea why our daughter is fearful of dogs and we do everything we can to reassure her that they will do her no harm and that calm behaviour will be her best defence against dogs showing an interest in her.

Every time a dog bothers a small child, the dog’s owners always say “Oh, but he/she never does that usually,” as if to say it’s that child’s fault for being in the same place as the dog.

But that is not so: all the dog is doing is what it has been conditioned to do, ie behave in an uncontrolled manner.

I have seen the other side of the matter, having been a dog owner for many years, and the answer is a very simple one – properly trained dogs do not run up to and jump up at people.

They are animals and as such can and should be trained (conditioned).

Unless she was being intentionally ironic, Ms Fox seems to have a very distorted view of the position of dogs vis-à-vis human beings in the evolutionary process.

Dogs are fundamentally pack animals which have been domesticated by humans for their own purposes; it’s not the other way round. Therefore dog owners have the total responsibility to control their animals.

There are many more millions of humans than dogs and the rights of the former are more important. That’s why the law acts against out-of-control dogs attacking humans, not vice versa.

Ms Fox is partially correct when she says that “training” is available for children who are scared by dogs; it is actually called cognitive behavioural therapy.

But why should any parent or child have to go through that process when the sole cause of the problem is the owner who cannot be bothered to train their animal to behave properly?

If you are a dog owner and cannot be bothered to train your dog, or think that its ‘rights’ are somehow being abused by training, then keep it on a lead.

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