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Monday, July 14, 2008

This person is an 'expert'?

Dog body language signals whether to pet or stay away -
"The three kids huddled around the dog, petting her. The dog was very still.
I was several yards away and started running toward the scene, but I was too late.
Before I could get there, the big dog reached up and bit one of the children in the face. Fortunately, the dog didn't bite hard, and the child's skin wasn't broken."
You don't run towards a dog -- that is going to get a worse reaction .... and as an 'expert' she should have known better.

I have a few other issues with what she claims:
"Eyes look away: A dog that doesn't want to have someone near will usually avert his eyes. A very worried dog may show the whites of his eyes."
No, looking away is a sign of submission and you want that in a dog. What you want to look out for is the dog that lowers its head but keeps its eyes locked on you.
"Licking lips: In dog language, this is a submissive gesture. It's the canine equivalent of saying, "I'm no threat to you. Please back off." "
No ... usually licking lips is because the dog is salivating or keeping its nose wet -- the submissive licking of lips would be if the dog was licking your lips (normally in the corners), but yuck who wants that? Where does that come from? well in the wild, its how the pups make the adults regurgitate the contents of their stomachs so they can get something to eat (gross but true, and it was probably something similar to what our great ancestors did)
"Ears back: A worried dog carries his ears down, plastered as close to his head as possible."
This can also be a submissive sign depending on the does not necessarily mean the dog is getting to an aggressive point. Again look at the position of the head, and you want to check the neck muscles as well (stiff neck is a really good sign the dog is not liking what's happening)
"Yawning: A yawning dog probably isn't sleepy — he's stressed. A stranger petting a stressed dog adds to the problem. "
You have got to be kidding! Dog's yawn for the same reason people do, thank you, to rid their bodies of excess carbon dioxide. Where the heck did she come up with this crap! While yes, yawning can be a sign of stress in extreme cases -- it is very rarely that!

And despite what she says - a wagging tail is not always an invite to pet a dog.

Her quotes are so comical - "if you hold out your hand, he'll gently come up to you" - BS, each dog will greet you differently ... some will approach gently, others (like my Addy) come at you like a freight train - its not that one is friendlier than the other or that one is 'starving for affection' its all about the personality of the dog. (yes we are trying to break Addy of her enthusiasm - while we understand it, some day she will meet someone who does not).

In my 30+ yrs of training I find the majority of 'greeting dog' bites do not lie in either the greeter or the dog - but in the owner. Everyone wants there dog to be liked by everyone ... but lets face it, not all dogs like a bunch of strangers groping them.

The owners are the one in charge of the situation -- they are the one's who tell the greeters how to approach their dog.

And most people don't know the 'rules' of approaching dogs -- or we have been taught wrong information.

Little dogs - don't reach down at them, you are like a giant. Crunch down to their size at a angle instead of straight on - most are afraid of getting stepped on. Approaching them sideways also gives you a chance to get out of the way

Hands - never show the dog the palm of the hand ... show them the back of it. If a dog is going to bite your hand, they will do less damage to the back than in the palm.

Hugs are strictly forbidden - most dogs really hate it ... watch your dog next time they come up to you for affection. Most of the time they come to your side so you can put an arm around them, but that's about all they want in the hug-department ... anything else is 'smothering'

Most bits during greetings happen in less than a second, so owners have to watch their dogs at all times - no matter their age, size, breed, temperament, etc. Even a well socialized dog can snap at someone.

I have seen dogs pop at no foreseeable reason - not just with people but with each other. Dogs are ... well ... ANIMALS and people need to always remember this - and as such they are totally unpredictable.

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