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Old 02.09.2011, 21:06
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Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

This one has been bugging me since I moved here and today just has to be the camel that broke the straw mattress... and this is going to sound racist for added effect.

I know in some cultures dogs are considered dirty. Like pigs. These cultures think European people are weird for keeping them as pets. Like we think Suzanne Sugarbaker was weird for keeping a pig as a pet. Big I digress.

So whenever I am out on a walk with my dogs, invariably some dark-skinned immigrant kid will either cower in fear and/or let out a shrill shriek, and/or start running away from us. This of course elicits my youngest dog's responses: prey drive or threat drive. The child has now either become a juicy morsel or has become a threat to me and/or my dog and must be destroyed.

So now the kid is shrieking "Aaaaaaah!!!!!!", the dog is barking "rawr rawr rawr I'm gonna get you!" I'm rolling my eyes "ugh" and the parents are looking at me like I've done something wrong.

I don't have these types of experiences with whiter children. And I have even had some dark-skinned immigrant parents tell their children not to react like that, which of course makes everything better. And I've also had my dog make some delightful friendships with young children and not eat their faces (so I know it's not that my dog doesn't like children). Before I moved here, he even got on well with some Indian children down the street who LUVVED to play with him.

So I just have to ask... why do parents (generally speaking) teach their children to act like idiots around dogs? Even if the fear is REAL (yes I recognize that some children have very negative experiences that scar them for life), at least teach the child that their behavior will elicit more negative reactions.

(then there's the other topic of -- why do some adults go out of their way, stumbling over garbage bags, broken glass, hot coals, snake pits, and Pee Wee Herman's Funhouse to get as far away from passing a dog on the sidewalk as is possible.)

It just blows my mind. End Rant.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:11
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

I lived on the BVI where most dogs were kept as guards. Mine wasn't but still the Island people (most of them dark skinned) were terrified of him (golden retriever). Nobody would enter the small front yard, they all would rattle the gate so I would come out and let them in.

So I don't think it is weird for some people to fear dogs, if they grew up with having to be careful and fearful of dogs how are they to know that your dogs are friendly?

I love dogs, my kids love dogs. I teach them to always ask before approching/petting a dog because you just never know........
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:12
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Ever been to India, Africa, central Australia for that matter...and seen what the dogs are like ?

It's understandable that people don't like them - you don't have to go far to find people who have been attacked by a dog - they certainly know that dogs are a) dangerous and b) capable of causing injury...

On the other hand, I was attacked at age 2 by a Peacock at the zoo - I have this mortifying distrust of these creatures...and justifiably so...
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:15
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Children should never be taught to fear dogs (to be wary, fine), as they need to show the dog that THEY are master, or else it all goes downhill.

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Old 02.09.2011, 21:16
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Back home, native Africans believe that getting bit by a bull terrier will make them sterile. They are petrified of those dogs too. They call them 'China dogs'.
I honestly don't know why parents may teach children to be afraid of our fury friends.
What I have come across though is that on occasion when my daughter would walk towards a dog to pet it, the owner would rather aggressively shoo her away explaining that the dog would bite her. It's happened about 3 times all with different dogs and owners (my daughter is 3). I don't mind that but it kind of freaks my daughter out, she still loves dogs though but she doesn't go over to pet them any more.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:18
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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Ever been to India, Africa, central Australia for that matter...and seen what the dogs are like ?

It's understandable that people don't like them - you don't have to go far to find people who have been attacked by a dog - they certainly know that dogs are a) dangerous and b) capable of causing injury...

On the other hand, I was attacked at age 2 by a Peacock at the zoo - I have this mortifying distrust of these creatures...and justifiably so...
Yes, I have seen this. I'm afraid of street dogs in India, too! But, I don't shriek and run away when I see them (neither do Indian children).

Of course I still run out of a room whenever a bee/wasp flies in through the window, so... don't ask me where I learned that from.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:26
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Europe, and Switzerland in particular have so friendly and pacific dogs that it was also a surprise for me.

In southamerica, and I guess in many other places, dogs can be friendly but as many of them are guard dogs kept on the houses to protect it for burglars etc, they can be very agresive and dangerous.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:46
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Maybe the kids are just reacting naturally. Think about how you would react the first few times you see an animal with very sharp teeth and is either the same size as you or bigger, that has a natural reaction to chase you when you run away in fear (even if it's just to play)....wouldn't you be scared? Remember, a small dog to us is a giant to them.
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Old 02.09.2011, 22:13
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

I've had this response with my dogs to, and they are always on the lead with people around.... JIC, or made to sit while people or cyclist pass. I look and see 3 chocolate labs that are so soppy the only injury they could cause would be chapping from the licking.

So I have to do double take as some kids and even worse adults, only seem to see 3 snarling, rabid, hell beasts bent on reaving their flesh. Children I guess its understandable as they are quite big, but the parents who lift up there arms, push there kids off the track, and make funny wiggling gestures with them (arms not kids) astound me, and whatever is that language they start to feverishly babble...whats that all about. As for the old un's with the walking poles who start making like Obi Wan Foggie preparing to hand it out to Darth Maul
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:04
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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What I have come across though is that on occasion when my daughter would walk towards a dog to pet it, the owner would rather aggressively shoo her away explaining that the dog would bite her. It's happened about 3 times all with different dogs and owners (my daughter is 3). I don't mind that but it kind of freaks my daughter out, she still loves dogs though but she doesn't go over to pet them any more.
Sadly one of the reasons we do it, is that we have rescue dogs who are not used to kids. Although we give them lots of love and training, it does not always lead to them being totally able to reintergrate back into society. Therefore we may never be able to take them off the lead, or allow kids to pat them. How they react in public/home is totally our responsibility. Therefore we go for the rather safe than sorry approach. I am one of those owners. I do feel sorry for your daughter as it makes her weary, but I just can't take the chance.
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:13
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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Sadly one of the reasons we do it, is that we have rescue dogs who are not used to kids. Although we give them lots of love and training, it does not always lead to them being totally able to reintergrate back into society. Therefore we may never be able to take them off the lead, or allow kids to pat them. How they react in public/home is totally our responsibility. Therefore we go for the rather safe than sorry approach. I am one of those owners. I do feel sorry for your daughter as it makes her weary, but I just can't take the chance.
I totally understand and I have no problem with that at all and appreciate it that others are looking out for the safety of my daughter.
Don't feel sorry for my daughter.. We have two cats at home who on occasion think they are dogs so she has the best of both worlds
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:20
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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Europe, and Switzerland in particular have so friendly and pacific dogs that it was also a surprise for me.

In southamerica, and I guess in many other places, dogs can be friendly but as many of them are guard dogs kept on the houses to protect it for burglars etc, they can be very agresive and dangerous.
Ya I think we can all agree that if we were tresspassing and the guard Doberman was going to eat our faces we'd all probably shriek and run, too. But we're talking about leashed dogs on the sidewalk being walked by their master. Neither of the dogs is a "viscous" breed, nor are they wearing spiked collars, nor do they have cropped ears, eye patches, or gang tattoos.

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Maybe the kids are just reacting naturally. Think about how you would react the first few times you see an animal with very sharp teeth and is either the same size as you or bigger, that has a natural reaction to chase you when you run away in fear (even if it's just to play)....wouldn't you be scared? Remember, a small dog to us is a giant to them.
I'm not talking about 3 and 4 year olds. I'm talking about 10-12 year olds acting this way. There's no longer a size issue at that age, and it is very much a taught behavior.
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:26
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

OK, I have the exact opposite side of this story. A lot of kids fear dogs. And they have not been taught it by their parents.

My son - a perfectly white child by the way (not that I believe that makes a jot of difference) is absolutely terrified of dogs. And I have had many many conversations with other parents who have the same issue.

It's not something we have ever taught him or encouraged, he just is scared of dogs. Full stop.

Ever met anyone with a proper phobia? As in a proper one, not just "I don't really like spiders"? Well, that's him with dogs. Crying, shaking, hiding behind me - and he's seven years old, not a baby. He's not afraid of cats, or spiders, or horses or any other animals. And believe me there is nothing I can do about it other than remain calm myself and try to be reassuring. We've bought him books to read to try and understand about dogs, we've tried to introduce him to friendly dogs, we've tried to show him that dogs on a lead anyway can't hurt him, we've shown him that they may make a lot of noise but it doesn't mean they'll hurt him, but it makes no difference. He is terrified of them full stop.

I've never owned a dog myself although as a child we had every other kind of pet under the sun and I can't really understand his fear, there's no incident I can recall when something scary might have happened that would lead to such a fear. But he is still afraid. So I would rather that dog owners who see a child that is terrified just try to be a little understanding and move along rather than trying to encourage my terrified child to "not be afraid of the little doggy".
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:46
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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What I have come across though is that on occasion when my daughter would walk towards a dog to pet it, the owner would rather aggressively shoo her away explaining that the dog would bite her. It's happened about 3 times all with different dogs and owners (my daughter is 3). I don't mind that but it kind of freaks my daughter out, she still loves dogs though but she doesn't go over to pet them any more.

The best thing a parent can teach a child is that while dogs are wonderful creatures, he/she must always ask the dog's owner if he/she may approach the dog, or not - and that he/she must never, ever run up to a dog, or to reach out to pet him without first asking if it is OK. And then teach the child to ask the owner how she should pet this particular dog.

I, too, am one of those owners who does not allow children near my dogs. Not only because my dogs do not live with children and so are not used to childish antics, but also because very few children today behave correctly around dogs. Most children in our neighborhood - Swiss and Auslander alike - behave as KF describes above.

I need to be proactive to protect my dogs, they are my first responsibility. So I take the safest route - for all - and keep away from children I do not know. Heck, even with children I know I only allow them to pet the dogs when their parents are right there and have given permission.

It's a sad state of affairs, I know. I was a dog-crazy child myself, I grew up in a world where the neighborhood dogs would freely wander over to say hello, join in our games. But that world is long gone.

The anti-dog climate prevalent in Switzerland combined with the liability laws that hold a dog owner automatically responsble means that we have to be extra careful.

I wish I could allow children to get to know my marvelous mutts. I wish I could do my bit to show the neighborhood kids how wonderful it is to have a canine friend. But I can't risk it, I simply do not trust anyone I do not know. The stakes are too high.

For a bit of history on the rise of anti-dog hysteria in Switzerland, see my post #22 here:

Dog etiquette
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:55
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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So I would rather that dog owners who see a child that is terrified just try to be a little understanding and move along rather than trying to encourage my terrified child to "not be afraid of the little doggy".
Wattsli, I sympathise. I have seen true dog-phobia, and I know how crippling it (and any phobia) is for the sufferer. Hugs to your little guy.

The best thing you can do is to call out to the dog owner ask them to help you by continuing on. Don't be afraid to be explicit - people here do seem to often need to have things spelled out to them. But once made aware of the problem, most dog owners (at least those I know) would gladly do whatever you need them to do to make things easier for you.

All the best to your little one.
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Old 02.09.2011, 23:59
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

Our dogs wait at the fence for the schoolkids to walk past on their way to and from school. All the neighbourhood kids know our dogs, they are really lovable Bassets. One mother walking by with her kids shushed them away from the fence when they went over to stroke the dogs. They all cracked up and said to her "Ach, that's Hana. She won't do anything to us" and indeed the most active part of Hana's body was her tail that wagged furiously at the attention she was getting. Our seem to know when to wait outside and the kids are always happy to see them.
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Old 03.09.2011, 00:13
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

FYI, the BVet has published a pretty good brochure for children, 'Tapsi, komm...'

http://www.bvet.admin.ch/tsp/02222/0...x.html?lang=de

(scroll down, click to bring up the pdf.)

The brochure is written for children, in simple language, explaining how to behave and how not to behave around dogs - their own and strange dogs.

I think it's a good idea for all dog owners to read this as well.

---

Question for parents - is 'dog safety' discussed in the schools anymore?
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Old 03.09.2011, 00:18
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

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The best thing a parent can teach a child is that while dogs are wonderful creatures, he/she must always ask the dog's owner if he/she may approach the dog, or not - and that he/she must never, ever run up to a dog, or to reach out to pet him without first asking if it is OK. And then teach the child to ask the owner how she should pet this particular dog.

I, too, am one of those owners who does not allow children near my dogs. Not only because my dogs do not live with children and so are not used to childish antics, but also because very few children today behave correctly around dogs. Most children in our neighborhood - Swiss and Auslander alike - behave as KF describes above.

I need to be proactive to protect my dogs, they are my first responsibility. So I take the safest route - for all - and keep away from children I do not know. Heck, even with children I know I only allow them to pet the dogs when their parents are right there and have given permission.

It's a sad state of affairs, I know. I was a dog-crazy child myself, I grew up in a world where the neighborhood dogs would freely wander over to say hello, join in our games. But that world is long gone.

The anti-dog climate prevalent in Switzerland combined with the liability laws that hold a dog owner automatically responsble means that we have to be extra careful.

I wish I could allow children to get to know my marvelous mutts. I wish I could do my bit to show the neighborhood kids how wonderful it is to have a canine friend. But I can't risk it, I simply do not trust anyone I do not know. The stakes are too high.

For a bit of history on the rise of anti-dog hysteria in Switzerland, see my post #22 here:

Dog etiquette
That's how I grew up too. As with a million other things, this is something I have had to learn since having children. I never thought twice about my daughter petting dogs but I have since learnt and now understand and respect the dog owners that it's better for her to just wave at the dogs which she is happy with too (I.e. I don't have to put up with any tantrums).
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Old 03.09.2011, 00:20
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

I'm not entirely sure if it's that these parents actually intentionally teach their children to fear dogs. I'm wondering if maybe it's more of an acquired fear that the kids picked up on due to their own parents' fear of dogs.

I guess I suspect this because, for example, I know that both my sister and I have always had horrible snake phobias, which my mother also has -- and so I'm sure we picked it up from her, when we were young. (Yet does she want us to share her phobia? No). But phobias are really hard to break. If I see a snake -- even if it is 50 feet away -- my mind just can't seem to grasp the fact that it is actually NOT out to "get me."

Of course, though, I do realize that dogs and snakes are very different creatures. But I guess that I can somewhat relate to anyone that has a fear of a particular species of animal.

The thought of anyone being in fear of a golden retriever is rather amusing, though.
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Old 03.09.2011, 00:24
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Re: Teaching Children to Fear Dogs

I regularly work in parts of the world where dogs have rabies. Even in the U.S. and Europe, rabies shots are expensive (up to $1000 for the series). And, a handful of stones and an aggressive demeanor is cheap. Some of these people come from parts of the world where dogs can and do kill you.

So, it's beyond even an issue of taboo, which you are, of course, right about that. But you could argue that the taboo is a result of the danger.

My question is (and I'm by no means suggesting that you are in any way a person who would do this): why do people who have dogs think that I'm going to be as delighted about the presence of their dog as they are? (or people with kids for that matter) And, especially why do they think it is okay to give their dog enough leash to touch me. Or worse, jump on me or lick me. This happens all the time and I find it incredibly disrespectful. Don't even get me started on dogs in restaurants or people who have little dogs in purses in places where it does not seem the case to bring a dog, i.e. doctor's offices or tight public space.

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This one has been bugging me since I moved here and today just has to be the camel that broke the straw mattress... and this is going to sound racist for added effect.

I know in some cultures dogs are considered dirty. Like pigs. These cultures think European people are weird for keeping them as pets. Like we think Suzanne Sugarbaker was weird for keeping a pig as a pet. Big I digress.

So whenever I am out on a walk with my dogs, invariably some dark-skinned immigrant kid will either cower in fear and/or let out a shrill shriek, and/or start running away from us. This of course elicits my youngest dog's responses: prey drive or threat drive. The child has now either become a juicy morsel or has become a threat to me and/or my dog and must be destroyed.

So now the kid is shrieking "Aaaaaaah!!!!!!", the dog is barking "rawr rawr rawr I'm gonna get you!" I'm rolling my eyes "ugh" and the parents are looking at me like I've done something wrong.

I don't have these types of experiences with whiter children. And I have even had some dark-skinned immigrant parents tell their children not to react like that, which of course makes everything better. And I've also had my dog make some delightful friendships with young children and not eat their faces (so I know it's not that my dog doesn't like children). Before I moved here, he even got on well with some Indian children down the street who LUVVED to play with him.

So I just have to ask... why do parents (generally speaking) teach their children to act like idiots around dogs? Even if the fear is REAL (yes I recognize that some children have very negative experiences that scar them for life), at least teach the child that their behavior will elicit more negative reactions.

(then there's the other topic of -- why do some adults go out of their way, stumbling over garbage bags, broken glass, hot coals, snake pits, and Pee Wee Herman's Funhouse to get as far away from passing a dog on the sidewalk as is possible.)

It just blows my mind. End Rant.
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