Sunday, December 11, 2005

ANALYSIS: Canon City Dog Attacks Child

Kimberly Gore, 11, is still recovering from a dog bite on Dec. 2 that left her with extensive wounds to her mouth.

The dog, who officials at the CaƱon City Police Department described as a pit bull mix, attacked the young girl after she and friends stopped playing in a neighbor’s yard to assist a woman in catching her runaway dog.

Wanda Smith, Kimberly’s mother, said, “The dog came up and the girls were playing. They were jumping around and excited so maybe the dog got nervous. They heard the owner calling the dog, and she (Kimberly) reached down to help catch him, and that’s when he bit her.”

First, let me say that I hate it when any person, especially a child, is bitten by a dog. Second, it is incumbent upon all of us to properly socialize, supervise, train, and contain our dogs so they don’t get loose, unsupervised, in public.

Taking this story as being truthful and relating all the facts of the situation, here are my thoughts:\\

1.) It is important to train your dog to Come when called. Most people don’t realize how much work that entails, how much time it will take, nor do they understand the dog training techniques and methods for teaching this to a dog. My current dog, Dillon, was purchased at the age of 8 ½ weeks. When I got him home, I started training him from the very first week. At 6 months of age, he knew almost all of the obedience commands, and he looked great when we went through the exercises. Then, at 8 months of age, it all started falling apart. He was going through puberty, and so his obedience suffered, which is a normal thing. I continued training him, about 5 to 6 days a week. I still remember the day, when he was 1 ½ years old, when it all came together. I remember calling him “Here”, he ran to me as fast as he possibly could, there was an intensity of both drive and an obligation to obey, and he popped into a perfect and attentive Sit right in front of me. He had finally learned what it meant and all my hard work had paid off. Many people just put their dogs through a 6 or 8 week puppy class, usually in a group class setting, and figure that is enough. It isn’t.

2.) Second, this article is clearly misleading about what transpired. You have to read it a couple of times to get the picture here. You have a dog running away from its master, not coming when called. In most instances, the dog knows it is in trouble, and is in a state of FLIGHT. If you know anything about behavior, you know that when a dog is worried, it will either flee or fight… the FIGHT OR FLIGHT response.

Again, this is a result of faulty training. If your dog is running away from you, the last thing you want to do is project an attitude that the dog is in trouble. To the dog, putting it in human terms, it figures it is going to suffer physical pain if the owner catches up with it.

I can recount many times where owners have been bitten by their dogs because the dog was in trouble for something… getting on the furniture, having something forbidden in its mouth, or not coming when called… the owner cornered the dog, and the dog attacked them. In some cases, the owner had to go to the hospital.

3.) These kids should have never participated in trying to round up this loose dog. Once the dog was cornered by the kids, the dog felt an impending attack, and it defended itself. It might not be legal for the dog to bite kids to defend itself, but it is 100% valid behaviorally that the dog bit the child to defend itself.

4.) In my opinion, the parents of the victim are 50% responsible for this dog biting incident. How many times do you have to tell a child to not touch a strange dog? Every time! And where were the parents? Why weren’t they supervising this child to prevent this incident?

5.) In my opinion, the owner of the dog is 50% responsible for this dog biting incident. We are responsible for socializing, supervising, training, and containing our dogs. When they get loose from us, we need to know how to get them back. You can’t have the proper plan if you don’t train your dog on a regular basis, and work your dog up to a 100 yard Come, in public, off leash, with distractions. You will freeze up in the emergency if you and your dog don’t have lots of practice at Coming when called. In addition, these kids should have been told to leave the dog alone by the owner of the dog. It isn’t in any way clear that the owner had asked the kids to help in the search for this dog. If she had told them to back off, and they didn’t, then I would then put 100% of the blame on the parents of the victim for this dog biting incident. Parents should take responsibility for the behaviors and actions of their children.

6.) This incident has nothing to do with the breed of dog. This could happen with any breed of dog with this kind of situation.

1 comment:

DSDA said...

It is common for puppies to bite when they are around 3 to 10 months old. As part of dog training, dog owner should understand the nature of puppy biting. Giving them the right objects to bite will discipline them.