On this blog post, I am talking about safety for dogs and children, and for everyone really. In this picture we see a little child giving a dog a hug. Cute, right? Well, giving a dog a hug can be cute for us but for the dog, not so much. Most dogs don’t like hugs, my dogs being two of them. If you look in this picture, you can see the dog turn his head away. This is called avoidance and is called a calming signal. The dog is saying that he is uncomfortable. Anytime you see your dog turn his head away, that is him avoiding the situation that is making him uncomfortable. When you see that, it is time to remove the child or the dog from the stressful situation before a bite happens. You may saybut my dog loves it when I give him a hug and he would never bite. Well, next time you or someone else gives your dog a hug, look for those signs of stress. As for a possible bite, I have the most tolerant Golden Retriever that puts up with the children in my home daycare. But, I am always on the lookout for those stress signs, because I don’t want to put her in the situation of needing to defend herself. I trust her completely and don’t think she would ever bite, but I am not willing to take that chance.
This is also true with kisses on the face. A great dog trainer, Kevin Behan who created Natural Dog Training, says, “Sometimes you love your dog so much…….you want to plant a big kiss smack dab on his schnozz. But if you ever watch a dog’s reaction to being smothered with a kiss, you can clearly see that the worst way to transmit your affection is via a kiss. From a dog’s point of view, when a person puts their head towards his, it is a form of aggression towards him. Just because he loves you, doesn’t mean he likes schmoozling. So don’t kiss a dog with a kiss, kiss him with a touch. Touching, body contact………is how a dog comes to feel connected and loved.”
Natural Dog Training (second edition) chapter 7