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ENTER TO WIN! Fill out our My Doggy Genius survey for your chance to win a FREE COPY of our DVD series and eBook. Just click on the link below and answer 10 quick questions to be entered into our March draw:
Question from Debbie Wilson, My Doggy Genius Fan:
“Help! I have a Border collie that sometimes lunges at my grand daughter and tries to bite her for no apparent reason…”
Thank you very much for your question. I am wondering when this behavior began with your dog. Has your Border Collie ever displayed this behavior with any other children, or only with your grand-daughter? Collies are known herders, and this instinct can be very strong, particularly around children. For more information about this particular breed and their strong instinct to ‘herd’ children, you might want to check out this great article from Border Collie Rescue.
In addition to breed-specific tendencies, various forms of aggression in dogs is commonly caused by environmental factors. If this behavior only happens with your grand-daughter, your dog is either feeling territorial (because your dog perceives your grandchild to be a threat) or there may be something your grand-daughter is doing or has done in the past that is triggering your dog to respond in this way. I’m not suggesting that your grand-daughter has done something intentionally to provoke your dog. Young children often move quickly and unpredictably, and if your dog is not used to being around children this age, your grand-daughter’s quick movements may startle him. It’s important to pay very careful attention to their interactions or there could be negative consequences; when a dog is startled, (s)he will react in one of two ways: fight, or flight. That your dog is lunging tells me that (s)he is feeling threatened in some way, which could eventually lead to a dog bite.
Dog bites are most common in the United States among children (and boys in particular) between 5-9 years old (Jalongo, 2008), but developmentally appropriate education for young children can prevent this from happening.
Ten years of working with elementary school children as a teacher, as well as my doctoral research in which I explored how one class of grade 2 children experienced an animal-assisted literacy program, offered me a great deal of practical experience helping children and dogs to understand each other’s needs and preferences. Here, I’ve included an abbreviated list of topics (adapted from Dr. Mary Renck Jalongo’s 2006 article, On Behalf of Children) which you may want to talk to your grand-daughter about to help her to not only be safe around dogs, but to learn how to interact with all dogs with care and empathy:
- Remember that sometimes dogs don’t want to be petted. To find out if the dog wants to be touched, let him or her sniff the back of your hand first. If the dog seems to like that, you can pet the dog gently, but not on the face.
- Don’t bother dogs when they are eating because they may think you are trying to steal their food.
- Don’t bother a sleeping dog. If you surprise him, he could bite you because he’s scared.
- If you give a dog a treat, put it in the palm of your hand. If you hold it in your fingers, the dog might accidently bite them when he’s trying to get the treat.
- Don’t tease dogs. If you are mean to them, they won’t want to be your friend.
- It’s not fair when someone takes away your toys, so don’t do this to your dog.
- If a dog chases you and it scares you, stop running and don’t scream. When you run, your dog thinks that you are playing a game and will probably chase you, and screaming will make your dog more excited. Instead, stop, roll up into a ball, and stay quiet. Your dog will lose interest in you and go away.
- Even if you love a dog, don’t hug or squeeze him. That can be scary for a dog, and when he’s scared, he could bite you.
- The best way to get a dog to really like you is to find out what he likes and keep doing the things he likes to do most when you are around him. If you find out that he or she loves to play fetch and you play that game with him, he will love spending time with you and will become your best friend!
For further information on how to teach children to interact safely with dogs, visit the American Humane website to learn about Dog Bite Prevention for Kids.
American Humane also has a wonderful program for educators, titled American Humane Kids: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely that can be ordered directly from this site. I hope that this information helps you and the children and animals in your lives!
Please share this article with anyone you know who has children and pets in their families so we can help prevent dog bites from happening in the first place.
Much Love & Tail Wags,
Lori, Tango, & Sparky
Jalongo, M. (2008). Beyond a pets theme: Teaching young children to interact safely with dogs. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(1), 39-45.
Jalongo, M. (2006). When teaching children about pets, be certain to address safety issues. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(5), 289-292.
Dear Fellow Dog Lovers,
I wrote this post is in response to a question from one of our My Doggy Genius fans, who asked for suggestions for working with her blind, deaf dog. Although having a deaf and blind dog poses special challenges, the loss of these two senses means capitalizing more on the other senses your dog does have. Here, I’ve listed 16 tips that I hope will be helpful for giving you and your deaf or blind dog a full and happy life:
1. Give your dog a safe place in your home, and ensure that his or her belongings are always in the same place to minimize potential stress. For example, keeping your dog’s kennel, his favorite toy, food and water dishes, as well as a pee pad if necessary in a gated area can offer a safe and predictable retreat for your dog, especially if you have a lot of guests or a busy home.
2. You may want to get a doggy water fountain to help direct your dog to where his or her water dish is. Even if he can’t hear it, he will be able to sense the vibration of the running water.
3. Block off any stairs in your home using a baby gate.
4. When your dog is outside, ensure that you either keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in area. Letting your blind or deaf dog run loose is a recipe for danger, especially because a dog who cannot see or hear can easily become confused and overwhelmed by new smells and sounds.
5. Get your dog a special collar or bandana! A company named “Thankful Paws” makes collars and bandanas specifically for deaf and blind dogs. They are brightly colored and read “I am a blind (or deaf) dog,” so if your dog gets lost, people know that your dog has special needs and can take this into consideration when helping him or her. You can also purchase vibration collars for deaf dogs from Gun Dog Supply, which help you to communicate with your dog without sound.
6. HandicappedPets.com is a wonderful resource for a wide array of other specially designed pet products for dogs with special needs.
7. Vibration is your friend with a deaf and blind dog. For example, clapping loudly or stomping your foot will allow your dog to feel the vibration of the sound and find you again.
8. Some dogs, although mostly blind, can see bright lights. Observe your dog carefully to see if he or she seems to be drawn to bright light, and if so, you can use this to help guide your dog to you.
9. Touch is also a valuable communication tool for the deaf and blind dog. For example, if you want your dog to follow you, you can touch your dog’s chin gently so he can pick up your scent, and he will be able to follow you more easily.
10. For feeding time, simply touch your dog’s food bowl to his chin to help him to pick up the scent, and then place the bowl on the floor.
11. Use carpet runners to help guide your dog through commonly-trafficked areas of your home. If your dog still seems to get lost or confused in different areas of your home, using a unique, but subtle, scent in each room (achieved through a scented candle, air fresheners, or potpourri) can help your dog to distinguish between the different rooms.
12. Warn visitors that you have a deaf and blind dog, and let them know if you have specific routines (it’s much easier for visitors to adapt than to ask your dog to)!
13. Ensure that you remove objects around your home that may be dangerous for your dog. Anything with sharp edges, particularly at your dog’s eye level, can be particularly dangerous. It may be helpful (if not entertaining) to get down on all fours and ‘experience’ your home the way your dog does to help to eliminate any potential dangers.
14. Training a blind and deaf dog poses unique challenges. However, touching your dog in a specific way to communicate a command will help your dog to easily understand what you want him or her to do. For example, you can teach your dog to sit whenever they feel a quick, light-pressured touch on their lower back.
15. Before you take your blind and deaf dog out for walks, ensure that you have practiced clear communication and commands with your dog before leaving your house or yard. When you feel confident that you can communicate clearly with your dog, start with a short walk the first few times, ensure that you always walk your dog on the same side, and stick to the same route each time if possible to help your dog to become more familiar with the area.
16. Play is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your deaf and blind dog! Interacting closely with your dog in a fun, positive way will help to deepen your dog’s trust in you and help your dog to come to see you as the source of all things fun and good. Particularly with a dog who is blind and deaf, t’s important to capitalize on your dog’s amazing sense of smell during play. For over 50 games and challenges you can play with your dog, be sure to check out our My Doggy Genius eBook and DVD series.
Although our first reaction is to feel sorry for a deaf or blind dog, the truth is that they really don’t know any difference and just need a little extra help from you to gain confidence to navigate their surroundings. Working with dogs who have special needs requires extra time and patience, but with these simple modifications, they can lead full, happy lives! For more information about how to work with and train a blind and deaf dog, visit “Paws to Adopt,” a website which offers a wealth of wonderful information on positively training your dog with these special needs.
With Much Love & Tail Wags,
Lori, Tango, & Sparky
Here’s Sparky, just hangin’ out and working on solving one of his fun food challenges :-) It was raining today & he was getting a little antsy, but after half-an hour of problem-solving and play, he was ready for a nap! To learn over 50 games & challenges to offer your dog, get your copy of My Doggy Genius today! Just go to http://www.doggamesathome.com to order.
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Check out our Featured My Doggy Genius Facebook Fan! Meet Knox, a gorgeous Border Collie who Deborah Hicks Singletary adopted from her local SPCA. Thanks for being our fans, Deborah and Knox! For your dog’s chance to be our featured fan, just “like” us on Facebook, post your dog’s pic, and tell us one of the things you love most about your dog.
“I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better.” – George Bird Evans, “Troubles with Bird Dogs”
Time for a My Doggy Genius fun fact: Did you know that Ancient Egyptians revered their dogs so much that when a pet dog would die, the owners shaved off their eyebrows, smeared mud in their hair, and mourned aloud for days?!
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