Every year in the United States, an estimated 800,000 Americans seek medical care for dog bites. Over half of these injuries are to children between five and nine years old. The outcome for those children who are bitten could be a lifetime of anxiety around animals—or permanent disfigurement. The outcome for the dog that bites a child is often death by euthanasia, chosen by the owners or mandated by the law.
The saddest phone call I ever received in many years of dog training and dog-owner counseling was from a mother whose four-year-old son had just had his lower lip bitten [...]
I watched an interaction the other day that worried me, between a toddler and a dog. I was concerned because the child’s mother, sitting a few feet away, seemed oblivious to what was happening, although I certainly was not. Luckily, the dog’s owner was paying attention and handled the situation very well.
Had the owner been less attentive—or the dog less tolerant—the interaction might not have turned out happily because, frankly, no one asked the dog if he wanted to be patted.
Two moms and two toddlers were sitting outside an ice cream shop. Both children had started in their mothers’ [...]
Last week, we talked about what not to do if your dog steals something you don’t want her to have. This week, we’ll concentrate on how you can teach your dog to “trade” an object in her mouth for something she would rather have. The “something” you trade will most likely be food, although certainly some dogs (not mine!) can prefer to trade for a much-valued toy or ball. If your dog would most likely choose food over a toy or ball, here’s a suggestion on how to determine what foods your dog considers most valuable.
Food rewards range in value [...]