Sunday, 1 March 2015

Reisner Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services: Vets view on children and pit bulls.

For additional accurate information on the public safety Danger of Pit Bull Type Dogs visit:
Reisner Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services
January 10

Saturday's Pet Peeve: Erring on the *wrong* side of safety, just to preach.
Several readers have shared a video of a young girl handling six large dogs, telling each of them to sit-stay while they position themselves around her, pouring food on the floor and then releasing the stays. The video is here (replace the word 'dot' with an actual dot; I'm choosing to avoid the link here).

While the dogs' self-control is impressive, the message being conveyed is not. Here are some reasons:
1. There are a few well known triggers of aggression between dogs, among them crowding and the presence of food. Putting two of these potential triggers together is simply unsafe. Yes, apparently these dogs are not competitive or aroused over their kibble, but feeding them in a head-to-head (to head) arrangement like this isn't safe, nor is it relaxing for the dogs.

2. Combining a small child + six large dogs of any breed + food is not safe. Whether or not this mother was able to videotape her child uneventfully, it is a bite waiting to happen. Dog bites can be unpredictable.

3. Internal conflict is a common trigger for biting. Conflict or ambivalence is created when dogs are driven to do something and inhibited from doing it at the same time. Wanting food, seeing food, being told to 'stay' by a very small child but with the potential for resource-guarding and competition creates conflict. The clincher: if they become physiologically aroused, they are no longer able to inhibit themselves.

4. In case the above potential triggers aren't enough, the girl (as she's been taught) then touches the dogs as they eat. She's not an adult - she's right at mouth level. Unsafe -- and annoying -- no matter who the dog is.

5. The woman's words: "Six male pitbulls….they live and eat together. They’re a family. That was a 4 year old that was able to tell those dogs what to do and when to do it". The implication here is that people are Boss to the point of reckless behavior. Even in the absence of a 4 year old, feeding dogs from a single pile of kibble is not recommended. Add the child -- and the compulsion to post a video can lead to catastrophe.

I hope this video doesn't generate copycats, it's simply about young children being severely injured, usually around the face/head, by family dogs who may never have bitten in the past. We've researched these risks at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. They are not imagined.