Don't show fear if dogs approach
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 May 2014
Regarding the response to my letter ("Dogged delusion", Opinion, May 1), I may have met this lady or a similar one, standing protectively in front of her daughter, shielding her as if from a tiger, although my dogs were well away from them.
However, this only made things worse.
To get attention, I’ve seen kids, especially daughters, wind their fathers up with hysterical screaming until the dad is ready to kill a dog, when nothing at all has happened.
No, dogs should not run up to kids – but they will sometimes, because they’re curious and enthusiastic about meeting new humans.
There’s no ill intent there, just as children frequently run up to my dogs, and try to pet them.
Yes, dog owners should control their dogs and teach them to recall.
I am talking, though, about why children go into hysterics when they see a dog. They may cry the first time, but how the parents react is what determines the course of events.
If the parent yells at the dog owner, and stands in front of the child, this is not only overprotective and a loss of temper but causes more fear in the child
I am as concerned as anyone when a large running dog appears – for the safety of my own dogs!
But I know one thing, having worked at the RSPCA for years – showing fear, screaming, running, crying are all the wrong thing to do.
Standing still, ignoring the animal and being confident is the right thing to do.
Kids need to learn to do exactly this, just as they learn to handle lorries and cars whizzing past a few feet away on the roads. It is a thing to be managed.
Parents teach their children very successfully about traffic, without yelling at drivers.
The best thing any parent could do is allow their children to meet a friendly dog very slowly, starting with the child tolerating the dog on a brief walk, and working up to the child playing with the dog.
Sadly, not all dogs are well trained, so best deal with bumptious and curious dogs in a ‘calm’ way, rather than getting angry.
I did offer the lady a good, friendly experience with my dogs, but she wanted all dogs a mile away from her child.
The world is not made that way – her child would be better off having good dog experiences rather than growing up fearful.
Manage dogs like you manage traffic – with care and without hysteria. Neither one is going away just for your convenience.