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Dogs And Kids: Don't Punish The Growl

Don't Punish The Growl



Every year, roughly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs. Nearly half of the victims of said bites are children between the ages of five and nine.  Throughout my career, I have seen these statistics manifested in the form of traumatized children and surrendered pets. Veterinary professionals are forever telling parents to closely watch interactions between dogs and children. Yet we often fall short when it comes to telling them what they should be watching for.

Perhaps the most telling sign of impending trouble between dogs and kids is the growl. When asked by researchers how they would react if they caught their dog growling at their child, the response of most parents was that they would punish the dog - severely. After all, they would want to be sure it never happened again. Dogs, however, are cause-and-effect thinkers. To a dog, a growl is a warning. She is saying, “Back off, or I will bite you.” When this behavior is punished, she learns that giving a warning leads to unpleasant consequences. The result is a dog who skips the warning, and goes straight to the bite. Should you catch your dog growling at your child, calmly separate the pair, and seek immediate assistance from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. These caring professionals can help both dogs and families to safely  enjoy the human-animal bond.





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