A Plea to all Moms and Dads

The other day I was walking my dogs and we walked up to a park where a few kids were playing. The mom was sitting nearby and the kids were all on the jungle gym, and so I started to walk through the park with Marty and Rosie.

All of a sudden, one of the little girls who was about 5 years old shrieked “doggies!” and in 0.5 seconds she was off the jungle gym and running towards me and my dogs, shouting and waving her arms. And of course Marty did what many normal dogs who aren’t used to being around kids would do, she started barking. I said to the girl, “Do NOT run at the dogs! DO NOT RUN AT THE DOGS!!” but she continued until she was very close to us. Then Marty started lunging towards her, snarling and barking. Finally the mom realized what was going on and came over and grabbed her kid, as I was struggling to control my two 85-pound dogs. Marty has NEVER harmed anyone, but I’m sure she really scared that little girl and her mom.

Now what went wrong here? Number one is I should have circled the park and kept a large distance between the kids and me. I realize that now. But number two, that parent should be teaching her kids NOT TO RUN AT THE DOGS. My dogs have the intelligence of a 2-year old, along with some instincts of what they once were – wild animals. When they see a person , even a little person, screaming (baring fangs) and running towards them (attacking) they are going to react.

Here’s how this scenario should have gone.

1. I walk around the park instead of through. But lets assume I choose to walk through the park, then…
2. Kid sees dog and says to her mom, “Mommy may I pet the dog?”
3. Kid’s mom says either “NO” and that’s it, or she says “Yes, but please ask the doggie’s mommy if it’s okay first.”
4. Kid says to me, “May I pet your dog?”
5. I say either “No, they don’t feel like being petted today,” or “Yes, but you must approach the dogs calmly and quietly.”
6. Kid obeys and acts calm around the dogs.

I don’t know why people think it’s OK to approach strange dogs. It’s NOT. Always ask, and TEACH YOUR KIDS TO ASK TOO.

I’m doing the best I can with my dogs. I have them on leashes and I don’t purposely put them in situations I know will aggravate them. I know that kids are like dogs and can be unpredictable at times. But I BEG all parents to educate their kids about dogs so that they understand it is not okay to pet or, especially, to run and shriek at dogs they don’t know.

OK. Thanks for listening.

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4 Responses to “A Plea to all Moms and Dads”

  1. Old Man and mid pack runner Says:

    great post. you’re so right. my kids are past that stage now, but its never to early to teach them about dogs.

  2. Doug Says:

    Great post! You nailed it.

    A few other no-no’s Julia and I have learned over the years:

    When meeting a dog for the first time…Don’t walk up to the pup head-on – that is aggressive behavior in dog-speak. Don’t put your hand in the air above the dog’s head to pet the dog, because that can be perceived as striking down. And, don’t make eye contact, because that can also be perceived as agressiveness.

  3. Julia Says:

    so what do you do??

    Approach the dog from the side with your arm out, palm down. Look away, but be aware of the dog’s body language. If the dog stiffens up with the hair on the back going up, then calmly pull your hand away and back off.

    Of course, you would never do any of this if the dog’s owner isn’t present!

  4. kate Says:

    jules…

    i am SO glad you posted this! it is so important. i think you should send this “article” post to some of the mom networks. educate!! i think that most of the time it’s not that people don’t know or care…they don’t know that they don’t know and then make assumptions because dogs are cute and they all want to play and be petted.

    hugs.

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