Be a Tree
The other day, we were walking the dogs on our block. LB was ahead of me with Qor and I was walking Qay. Across the street, I see a woman with her three small children on a family walk.. sort of .. the two boys were running ahead and the little girl was about midway between her mom and her brothers. The little girl spots us.. she stops dead in her tracks.. and Yells... "Guys! Guys!" and I expect the next phrase to be " Lookit the doggies!" but what this clever little 5ish year old girl yells instead is "WE DON'T RUN PAST DOGS! STOP RUNNING!" and the boys stop. Way to go kiddo.. that was awesome. Running past a dog is a sure fire way to kick up the prey drive. It's the reason dogs chase cars.. and how many kids get mauled. I've always said that the reason that so many kids get bitten is that they just don't have the tools to know when dogs have had enough . In thinking about this kid, I was trying to find places that she could have learned this. Based on the reaction of the adult she was with, I'm guessing, not at home (can you say apathy? so sad, really) Anywho, I stumbled across Be a Tree- Be a Dog Detective which not only has great tips on how to "Be a Tree" but it presents information to kids that does not make dogs sound scary.
Most dogs do not intend to scare or bite people, but they do like to investigate new people. Most dogs will chase a person who runs and will get more and more excited the more the person runs. Shouting or screaming is also exciting to dogs and can frighten some dogs. Being still and quiet is the best way to show a dog that you mean no harm and that you are not going to play with him or threaten him.
After a few click throughs, I found out why. "Be a Tree" is administered by Doggone Safe, an non-profit resource based in Canada.
Despite 12,000 years of living with dogs, they remain largely misunderstood by humans. When a dog bites we interpret this in human terms. In most cases the bite is a normal dog behavior. The dog that bites is not necessarily a mean dog or a bad dog - he is just a dog. To prevent dog bites we need to understand what motivates the dog to bite and reduce risk through modification of both human and dog behavior.
I love this. This does not blame the dog.. but simply explains the problem.. and provides a solution. Coincidentally, I just Facebook "fanned" their sister site "Doggone Crazy" where you can get a teacher kit and board game to learn about body language. There are a lot of learning tools available. What I really like is they seem to teach the subtlety of dog body language.. things that if you didn't know to look, you would think were "normal". In my own opinion, I think a lot of dogs are misunderstood and live in a constant state of stress. We humans don't see it for what it is because they "always look like that". Of course, we humans live with stress related illnesses and think that is normal, too. Check out the pics on the Dog Detective page and see how well you do!

One thought on “Be a Tree

Leave a Reply