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I am a home educating mum of 2 living in the Northwest of England. I long to travel with my family (including the fluffs) to see the world and have amazing adventures, because life is too short to worry about paying off a mortgage!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dog Attacks in the Media - Is it biased?

After having a leisurely read of the newspapers (yep dogs do like to get the latest news updates!) I was a little worried about the disturbing trend that's emerging when reading about dog attacks on children.
Being a complete softie I can't imagine why a dog would attack unprovoked. What I really can't put my paw on though, is why the papers always focus on the result of the action and pay little to no attention to what's happened leading up to these terrible events?

For starters here's the most recent articles I've seen about a Collie who mauled a 7yr old and a Labrador that bit a 3yr old.

Is it a case of younger children not understanding how to act around an animal, particularly dogs, or are these just cases of unprovoked dog attacks? It seems a lot of reported attacks are often on younger children and it saddens me that a dog and human relationship is being ruined in this kind of way.

What I would like to know is, how come every article I've read that's about a dog attack always claims to be it is unprovoked? This to me either means there is a serious lack of understanding dog behaviour or the media aren't relating the full facts.

I can't for one minute believe that every attack on a child happens because a perfectly well behaved dog used to children suddenly snaps and attacks, it doesn't seem logical (even in my dog world).
Dogs have been domesticated for years and lived happily with adults and children alike and whether this is just a recent phenomenon or increased reporting on the issue I'm not sure - although I would love anyone to have some input with that.

From a dog's eye view I can see two big reasons why a dog may attack:

1) The owners are not carrying out enough training so fellow dogs just don't understand what is right and wrong. I don't deny that there are some who should just not own a dog as they seem to want one for the wrong reasons, but that's a whole other debate!
2) Parents are not teaching their children how to behave properly around animals; any animal should be treated with caution if you don't know it (although this goes for adults too). I may submit if I'm scared or cornered but there are others who will defend themselves.

Parents of small toddlers must remember that they are scary to us, they shout, run quick, grab things they shouldn't and are a little alien to a lot of us if we're not used to them in the home. Some parents seem to think it's ok to let toddlers run up to us and shout, wave, prod and poke and really it's not, we're not unthinking robots who allow humans to do as they wish we are living creatures too and strangers don't know what our quirks are. There are also huge breed and temperament differences, some are fiercely loyal, some have guarding and territorial instincts, some of us have horrific pasts that a stranger couldn't possibly know about.

I know this is a touchy subject and will open up a whole debate on trusting your pet, and if you can't trust a dog then don't leave it tied outside a shop or loose in a park, but the same goes for your toddler, if you can't trust them to not approach things they don't know and shouldn't touch then they should be carefully supervised. Surely it works both ways? I also wonder when it became ok to approach a dog you didn't know. I always remember being told that you should never approach or touch a strange dog for all the reasons above and to be honest this made perfect sense to me and seemed a very sensible human behaviour.

So this goes right back to where my problem is with the media, there's never a side for the dog, just because it's an animal involved doesn't make it automatically in the wrong. Maybe I've got the wrong end of the tug toy but I thought that human papers were supposed to be impartial and present the facts objectively, without an anti dog undertone?

From all this I can only see one perfect solution, better training and understanding all round for all living species that must live together, that goes for dogs and humans. Surely then these incidents will happen much less and we can create a better harmony, rather than breeding this fear in people that their beloved family pet will for no reason at all suddenly turn on a human?

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