Save a Dog, Ride a Cowboy

I’d like to take some time to address parents of young children to educate them about something extremely important that could potentially save your child’s life. Folks, I urge you to teach your children that dogs, especially strong breeds, are not toys. I’ve seen too many parents allow and sometimes even encourage their children to ride their dog like a horse. I don’t care how big the dog is or how light the child is, dogs are not horses. Their fragile backs aren’t designed to carry the weight of a child. It isn’t funny and it isn’t fun for the dog. It could seriously injure the animal and the dog could potentially and inadvertently harm the child.

I realize that people only do this to amuse the child and themselves. They just don’t realize that they could potentially be hurting the animal and I get it. On the surface, it looks adorable but when you think about the consequences it’s far from it. There are infinite other activities that parents can encourage their children to practice with their dogs that are far more adorable and more importantly safer. Teach your child how to play fetch with the dog, play hide and go seek, hide treats around the house and watch the dog hunt for them. Get creative, search for tips online. There’s no reason to injure your dog for amusement.

Teach your children that dogs aren’t toys. Dogs are living creatures with similar emotions and feelings as that of a 2-years old. They are incapable of verbal communication so they can’t tell you verbally that they’re in pain or that they don’t like what you’re doing. Instead, they rely on a host of body language signs to communicate with you. That’s right, your dog will always let you know when they don’t like something; Always! Unfortunately, those signs are often lost and the dog resorts to one last tool in his arsenal and that is to bite the person who is hurting him/her. It’s the equivalent of yelling and screaming to leave him in peace after he’s been telling you all this time that he/she doesn’t like what you’re doing.

If parents are going to have a dog in the house and around children, I urge them to educate themselves about the subtle dog body language that the dog doesn’t like something. Watch for lip licking, yawning, low growls, lifting of one paw, these are all signs that dogs will give you that is almost always missed by the average dog owner. Dogs do not want to attack you or your child. No matter what you’ve heard, dogs aren’t aggressive towards their people. They love you. They don’t want to bite you, but they will if all other attempts at communicating have failed. Educate yourselves about these signs. It could save your life, the life of your child, and your dog’s.

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