• November 23, 2014

Do as I say, not as I do

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 4:30 pm

Seems that almost weekly there is a report of another dog attack in the news and the victim is a child. It’s heartbreaking.

As a mother, I can’t imagine one of my children being attacked, and as a pet owner, I can’t imagine having a pet that would do that, but I know it happens and it’s not something that happens only once in a while.

What the news doesn’t report is the minor attacks that happen in homes across the nation every day.

As a dog trainer, we stress the importance of never leaving a dog alone with a child, even and especially a family pet. As a parent, I know this is something that not every parent listens to. Parents think “It won’t happen to us” or “not our dog,”

I’m guilty of it myself, like the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” goes, but the importance of doing it more than you don’t do it is what I want y’all to learn.

I’m notorious for considering my dogs my fur children. If you ask me how many kids I have, I’ll ask you “four- legged or two-legged?” with a straight face. I also know that my dogs are dogs. As much as I want them to be furry humans, they aren’t and never will be human. They can’t reason like we can, they can’t make good choices like we can. They are wired certain ways and although their behaviors can be trained, adjusted or altered, you can’t make a dog a human.

That being said, you are the boss of your dog. From two-pound dogs to 200-pound dogs, you as the human are the boss, so when your dog misbehaves, accept the responsibility and find a solution to fix the problem.

Consult a trainer, put the time in to work with your dog and if you are unwilling to do that, do not blame the dog.

Dogs want to please us. We need to show them how, but they don’t speak our language so we communicate with them through training. Training starts with treats as rewards because it’s what they understand. Dog training isn’t rocket science; it’s one of the easiest things to do once you understand the process.

Find a trainer who speaks your language, who talks to you in a way you understand and if you aren’t comfortable with their methods, find another one. This area has a lot of different trainers using many different methods ranging from low price to high price. Some of the best trainers here are also some of the least expensive.

As a parent, the responsibility to teach children how to behave around dogs is more important than ever. With a large number of dog owners not training their dog or watching out for their dog’s behaviors, teaching our children to observe a dog’s body language and be aware when they are around dogs is more important than ever before.

As a pet owner, it’s also more appealing to me to allow a well-behaved child who has been taught how to behave around dogs, to pet my dogs than a child who obviously has no respect for my dogs.

It starts and ends with you, the adult owner. What you allow your dog to do at home and in public is what you will have to take responsibility for. Does your dog behave in a way that makes you proud? Does your child behave in a way that makes you proud? Now, can they do it at the same time?

Kathryn Leisinger is a Herald correspondent and is the “Dean of the Wags.”

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