Pooch Posse Principles

Ineke’s tips and tricks for enjoying life with your canine companion to the fullest

By INEKE TURNER

Is It Really Aggression?

I saw a video the other day where a dog bit a baby and moved away. There were many comments on this video saying something to the effect of “that dog should be put to sleep!”, “OMG poor baby, I hope they do something to that dog!” and my personal favourite: “if that was my dog, I’d take it out back and shoot it myself!”

Was the dog aggressive, or was he simply defending himself?

Dogs have minimal audible communication, but their body language says a lot.  So, often they will use their body to try and convey what they need. Ears pulled back, licking lips, whale eye, turning it’s head away, are all signs your dog is uncomfortable.

In the case of the video, the baby was allowed to pull the dogs tail and grab it’s feet. All of which were tolerated by the dog, although there were signs that the dog was not happy with the situation, it not willing to do anything about it.

Until the baby crawled further onto the dog.

Dogs have minimal audible communication, but their body language says a lot.

Before the videoer threw the phone down, you can clearly see the dog bite the infant’s head, and walk away.

If this dog was truly aggressive, the baby would not be able to get anywhere near the dog, or it would have killed it (the baby is heard wailing after the incident).

To me, a truly aggressive dog is a dog that wants to kill or seriously harm a human or another dog (small animals not included as that is considered prey drive).

As pet parents, we have to realize that dogs are not furry babies with four legs.

They are animals and they are predators.

Many millennia of domestication will not change the fact that for them, chasing and catching a ball is a lot like chasing and catching the neighbor’s cat. Or, shaking a squeaky toy is the same to them as killing their prey. The squeaker itself is there to replicate the sound of a dying animal.

None of these behaviours would be seen as aggression, unless the dog was doing them to a small dog or a baby, but really, it’s all the same to the dog.

That’s why training is so important; for our dogs, and our children.

had the adult moved the child away from the dog, or better yet, called the dog away. This would have taught the dog two things: one, that if it’s uncomfortable it can move away from the situation

The video would have had a much better ending had the adult moved the child away from the dog, or better yet, called the dog away. This would have taught the dog two things: one, that if it’s uncomfortable it can move away from the situation, and two, that giving the little human space is a good thing.

However, for all concerned, the best thing to do is have both the dog and the baby learn to give each other space. This will limit the likelihood of anything bad happening and ensure your dog and your child grow up to be the best of friends.

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