A cautionary tail

We love to help pet guardians see the world from their pets’ points-of-view.  Understanding & empathy create compassion.  Compassionate people are better teachers & trainers.  A great first step in better understanding, protecting, teaching & socializing your pets?  Learn their body language.  (Psssst – They already know yours.)

Let’s talk dogs here.  Humans often claim that their dog’s behavior “came out of the blue” or happened “for no reason”, “without warning”.  That’s rarely true.  Dogs speak volumes through their primary mode of communication:  body language.  We’re just not “listening”.  The more you practice observing Pup, the more you’ll really see the subtitles of her social communication skills.  A truly keen observer of dogs knows that each time you look, you see more.  We cherish the “ah-ha” moments that arise as we help clients see & decipher what their pets have been saying to them all along.  It’s a beautiful thing, because guardian & dog can continue to improve their relationship with a new understanding of each other.  It’s amazing how quickly dogs respond to their person’s new-found “bilingual” skills ….. Almost as though they’re saying, “What took you so long?!”

Verse yourself in canine-speak.  Review our post, “Are You a Close Talker?“.  It’s packed with video illustrations of polite interactions between canines.  In the post, we translate lessons learned from these dog-dog interactions into guidelines for how humans should approach (or not approach) dogs.  When you’re done, we’ll meet you back here with a current-event illustration of human-dog communication gone very wrong…..

If you follow us on Facebook, you know we covered in detail the case of the news anchor, Kyle Dyer, who was bitten on her face by a dog – on live TV.  The dog, Max, was setup by his unaware humans to feel defensive.  The encounter was too stressful too soon after his near-death rescue from icy water just 16 hours earlier.  He was “trapped” on a leash in a tight space in a new-to-him (& likely scary) environment.  The other oh-so-obvious-now lesson learned:  Never, repeat NEVER, kiss a strange dog on the face.  Watch the original footage here.  (You’ll only see Max during the bite, we promise.  Our heart goes out to Kyle, who, as you’ll see in the 3rd video, is healing nicely, physically & emotionally.  Max is OK, too, home with his family.)

Did you see the warnings?  This bite did not come out of the blue, or happen for no reason – as Ms. Dyer said on The Today Show last week.  Watch Michael Baugh’s excellent analysis & slow-motion video (again, dog only) of all the body language Max used to “say” that he was extremely uncomfortable just before the bite.  When we watched the original interview video @ normal speed, we could see it coming.  But this description & slo-mo video make it clear to all that Max was doing his best to inhibit himself pre-bite, signalling his fear & discomfort for awhile.  Having said that, we do agree with The Whole Dog Journal’s Facebook comment on the bite itself:  “That’s what ‘zero bite inhibition‘ looks like, folks, and why you WANT your puppy to learn good bite inhibition.”

Finally, here’s the follow-up interview with Kyle Dyer.  We commend her honest self-assessment & bravery in discussing her role in the bite.  She didn’t have the benefit of hind-sight & slo-mo video, so she didn’t know she was threatening Max.  We wish her a speedy & full recovery.

We hope, through Ms. Dyer’s experience, this blog, our Facebook page, and our work with clients, to further educate folks on dog body language, proper human-dog interactions, & scenarios to avoid.  Help us spread the word!

© 2012 Critter Consulting

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