My latest book is out, called ASK THE DOG. What made me write this book? Many things; my now 4 year old son, the adults that go straight up to dogs and stroke without asking because they are ‘dog lovers’, the people that have had dogs for years but are missing the subtle body language that dogs display, when they would prefer to be left alone, the number of children that try to come running up to us, when I am out with a client and their dog and of course the many cases I deal with where dogs have bitten.
Children below the age of 15 account for a high percentage of all dog bites, with the most vulnerable group being kids around 5 or younger, with this group at higher risk of being bitten in the face and are more likely to require hospitalisation than older children. Nearly 90% of the dogs are known to the children that are bitten. Children unfortunately do not recognise canine emotional expressions like growling for example, very well and sadly boys seemed to recognise fearfulness less in dogs. These are the many factors why I felt it was important for me to help educate children, parents and people in general, on how to recognise when dogs are saying they do not want to be touched.
Now let’s think about it, how much are we touched on a daily basis by known or unknown people? If we walked down the street stopping and physically touching people unsolicitedly, we would not only get some strange looks and make people feel uncomfortable but we might get someone shouting at us or worse. Now think about how much we physically touch and handle dogs. You could be having a BBQ for your friends and family, and as the family dog (big dogs in particular) moves from one room to the next, it may have been touched by at least 80% of the people in the room, just on the way through. Little dogs can often move away quicker but people often pick them up instead which makes them feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and threatened. Not many dogs like being picked up, an indication of this can be when they start licking your face repeatedly, ears back we like to call this the “Kiss to dismiss” which is often the dogs attempt to stop the interaction, see the following article on this https://www.familypaws.com/kiss-to-dismiss-not-all-licks-are-the-same/ by Family Paws Parent Education, they have some excellent information on keeping children safe on their website too. Yes there are some dogs that are on top of you licking you repeatedly because they do like being close but others only do this when you grab or hug/restrain them as this is not normal in the dog world, you don’t see dogs hugging and stroking each other.
Now it’s not just children that this book is aimed at, its for adults too, we are human and designed to read human behaviour, so we often miss when a dog doesn’t want to be engaged with. It’s a credit to many dogs that they don’t bite, many use the subtle signals like lip licking, turning a way and moving away to indicate that they do not want to be approached, and it’s only when these signals have been missed over and over that they have to use bigger displays like barking, growling, snapping or biting to get their message across more effectively. These behaviours are no different from us shouting, lunging or hitting at someone that made us feel uncomfortable too. The common thing I am told is my dog is so good, he tolerates anything we do to him and my response is but is that fair?
ASK THE DOG is about giving dogs the choice to interact or not, giving them the choice to say “No”, to keep people safe and to be mindful that dogs do not always want to be petted. It encourages children to make sure any dogs they encounter are happy to be stroked, and how to recognise signs that a dog may not want to be approached. The message is delivered in the form of a poem. With colourful, eye-catching illustrations to draw in younger readers and help to underline the points made in the text.
Available in paper back and Kindle Ebook, get your copy today on the following link https://amzn.to/2Kg6sRY and help me spread the word so more people are kept safe.
Bye for now.