Before You Share That “Cute” Dog and Baby Picture…

Dog and baby

Source: YouTube Creative Commons

First things first. I didn’t write this with you in mind. Let’s not make this about your dog or your parental decisions.

But there’s a problem with sharing that “cute” dog and baby picture. The problem is bigger than your individual situation, your family.

The problem is that posting a picture such as the one above sets an example and feeds a dangerous myth. A myth so dangerous that people die because of it. Children, especially, are hurt, and sometimes die because of it.

The myth is that good dogs, family dogs, your dogs–don’t bite. The myth says that dogs who live with us, dogs who like our kids, dogs who have always been “tolerant”–will stay that way, no matter what we or the kids do to them. The myth also says that dogs are supposed to take whatever kids dish out.

OK–remember–we don’t have to be talking about your dog. But when you post a picture of anybody’s dog with a very young child draped over him, hugging him, riding him, pulling his tongue, tail, or whiskers, or just plain sitting too close to him, and you “Like” it or include an approving comment, you feed the myth. The myth that gets some people’s kids terribly hurt or killed, and dogs euthanized.

Dogs are animals. They can move with lightning speed if they feel the need to. If you are six feet away taking the picture and the dog has his face right up next to your baby…you can’t get there near fast enough. Even if you are sitting right next to your child, the dog can still move faster than you.

A dog doesn’t have to be “vicious” or “mean” to bite. Sometimes all it takes is for him to be startled. Very young children, with their erratic movements, lack of fine motor skills, and exploratory natures, can stress out the most tolerant of dogs. It’s not fair to subject dogs to that. It’s not wise, either. Having a dog’s face, with that mouthful of teeth, up close to an infant’s head is an enormous risk. It’s not something to show off on social media.

Real Life Examples

A lot of people out there believed the myth until they learned otherwise. The hard way. The tragic way. Here are some real quotes from real people–mostly parents–from real news stories about dogs seriously biting children. The quotes took about 15 minutes of web searching to find. I promise–they are real.

“Fido” was super cuddly, the nicest dog you would ever imagine, and never once snapped … never growled, nothing. He never, never, never went after a person. I’m just in disbelief. –2015

In an apparently unprovoked attack, a 3-year-old child was bitten by a pet dog on Saturday… The girl was playing with the 2-year-old dog just before noon when she was bitten on the top and back of the head.–2015

She said the bite was out of the blue. “Mary” has known and played with the dog for years.–2014

I stood in the kitchen with my friend and her dog and my little girl. It was completely out of the blue, he jumped at my girl and tried to headbutt her to put her to the floor.–2015

I don’t really know what happened. It was right behind me. My dog just went for her. They are like best buddies. I don’t know what happened.–2014

He said the dog had no previous biting incidents, which is why he didn’t think anything of turning his back while his daughter went to play with the dog.–2014

The dogs had given no prior indication of behaving in this way, it was an attack out of the blue.–2015

What I didn’t include in the above quotes are the clues that were often just a few sentences away in the news story. The bites don’t usually come without warning, if one only knows how to read the signs. Perhaps the dog just got back from the vet after getting some shots. Maybe there’s a brand new dog in the household. Perhaps it is mentioned in passing that the dog doesn’t really like his tail pulled (but the child was allowed to do it anyway). Maybe the dog has growled in the past, and the owners duly punished him for it. (That’s a bad idea, by the way.)

Shooting Down the Myth

Maybe I can’t persuade you that your dog has the potential to do animal things. Maybe you simply can’t believe that your dog could get fed up one day and bite (probably after several warning signs that you might miss). Perhaps you’ve got the single most tolerant dog in the world. Can I persuade you not to share those pictures anyway? Your own or anybody else’s? Sharing them feeds the myth. If you share, you are implicitly condoning dangerous practices. You are encouraging others to let their kids get too close to their dogs and let them do uncomfortable things to the dogs for the sake of the myth, the romantic noble dog meme, that 15 minutes of Facebook fame.

There’s nothing new in what I’ve written here. (For instance, check out the second and third articles listed below.) Trainers and behaviorists cringe whenever they see photos like the one going around right now because probably this very week they have seen several very nice family dogs who bit a child “out of the blue.” The parents were loving and well intentioned, but they grew up with the myth, and they still see social media saturated with it.

Let’s stop it now. Please don’t post or repost that picture. Please don’t take that picture. Please don’t let your child and dog interact that way.

Do learn about dog body language. Do keep your children and dog safe. Do check out the resources below on how to do that. Most of them have multiple, excellent articles on the subject.

Help educate people about safe practices with dogs and children. You can share the materials below instead of sharing that photo. Thank you!

Resources

4/8/15 Addendum: Some people have been concerned about sharing **this** post because of the photo. Great point! I really debated whether to include one, but finally did because I felt I needed an example of what I’m talking about. I hope the narrative I have written sheds a different light on this type of photo. Please do share the blog post if you are moved to do so.

© Copyright Eileen Anderson 2015

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63 Responses to Before You Share That “Cute” Dog and Baby Picture…

  1. Betsy Lane says:

    Thank you for this–I enjoy all of your posts, but I think this may well be the most important one to date.

  2. Thank your for this critical post – it is amazing how frequently parents allow their children to be in harm’s way, usually oblivious to the risk. And the “culprit” is the dog, who is typically just worried about its space. I would like to give this out to appropriate clients, but do not want to infringe on your rights. Would you allow me to do so, or some reasonable version?? thanks

    Bill Weiler, CPDT-KA

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      You may absolutely share it, Bill. Thanks for asking. I will create a print-oriented PDF version soon. But feel free to share in any way, with credit. (The copyright statement at the bottom is sufficient for printouts.)

  3. I just shared this on my personal page and the biz pages I manage. People who learn about dog body language are less likely to have bite incidents, and less likely to be harsh with dogs during training, which is a risk factor for aggression. Thank you for an excellent shareable!

  4. [email protected] says:

    I’m a pediatric anesthesiologist and I’ve seen first hand the injuries that occur with the family dog and a toddler. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to convince parents until it happens to them that their dog is not only capable but actually hard wired to react with a snap/bite to quick movement and squeaky high pitched noises. Thanks for the great post Eileen.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Right, I didn’t even mention the squeaky noises! Those are the videos that give me the worst kind of shivers. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. cellopets says:

    Critically important information, presented in a way most likely to be received. Rock on, Eileen! I am so grateful to you, and I’m sure I speak for many, when I say that.

  6. John Muirhead says:

    Articles like this are only serving to perpetuate myths and fear, kind of like how all pit bulls are now labelled vicious because of the actions of a few. For every one incident where a child is bit by a dog while posing for a photo there are literally thousands that are not. I know all the “experts” feel the need to have their say, but they’re going too far nowadays, making issues where there were no issues, criticizing every pet owner who does not live up to their “standards” of dog ownership. Dogs and kids have intermingled for centuries and the majority of them have lived incident free. That’s all we need to remember.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      That’s an interesting stance. Obviously we disagree about this, and since I assume you read the article I probably can’t persuade you. I don’t agree that we can reduce all we need to know about dogs into a historical statement about them getting along with us. We live in the here and now, and can have this discussion about what’s appropriate today without citing statistics or changes in mores.

      My goal is not to label dogs as bad or dangerous or scare people about them. It is to urge people to change their behavior. My point remains that there is no clear distinction between a “dangerous” dog and just a “dog.” And that there is no good reason on earth to put them in situations where they feel they need to aggress.

      Learning how to read dogs and taking basic precautions are both win/win activities. I’ll leave it at that.

      • Honestly I think that the unnaturally tolerant dog myth is a very recent thing. When I was little we were always told ‘Don’t go near strange dogs. Don’t touch a dog without the owner’s permission’. When I was bitten by my childhood pet the first thing my parents said was ‘What did you do to annoy her?’ My dad’s advice was that you can only trust dog to act like a dog.

        Yes, dogs have lived with us for millennia, but it’s only recently that some of us have forgotten that they’re animals, not toys.

        It seems to me that now we expect dogs to be better than us; to put up with treatment and pain that we wouldn’t tolerate. They are supposed to not only put up with it but to come back for more.

        • Eileen Anderson says:

          Nicely put, BurkeyActual. Thank you for commenting!

        • And taking BerkeyActual’s comment much further back, you had many working dogs which formed a far different relationship than many of today’s untrained and unsocialized pet dogs. And while they lacked today’s behavior science, they also lacked many of the current myths. And I agree with Eileen, that there is no clear distinction between a “dangerous person” and just a “person”…or something like that.

    • Michele Milana says:

      So you feel, John, that’s it’s ok to put all kids at risk because only a percentage will be bitten, mauled or killed? Think about it. The point that you are missing here is that any dog can and will bite given the right circumstances. Any dog.

  7. Jean says:

    Wonderful article! I cringe when I see so many of those pictures on the Internet. I definitely sharing this with everyone I know!

  8. Katie says:

    These pictures terrify me. I don’t even see “cute, but that’s a really awful idea…” anymore. I just get scared.

  9. An excellent article that needed to be written. Well Done Eileen.

  10. titch990 says:

    So true! Thanks for writing this up.

  11. Fernanda Gomes Rosa says:

    It is very, very true, all you wrote. I get upset when I see those pictures. Me and my brothers grew up with dogs, and we learned at our own expense! glad someone talks about this. When I do, people say i am awful!!

  12. I love this article (and so many of your writings) – but I wonder, is the message that we just never take photos of dogs and children together, or that we use a critical eye before holding up the lens of the camera to capture our family moments? I do very much appreciate that you included the Dogs and Babies Learning Together Photo with some good examples of shareable photos with captions on what is good about them as a resource (I am a huge fan of that site and its series on magnetized baby prevention).

    Perhaps even when we share the photos with appropriate interactions, supervision, and body language, we continue to inadvertently perpetuate a myth and to quote a children’s book, “give a mouse a cookie,” where an appropriate photo gives way to a million more inappropriate photos. But is the message maybe that there is a better, more mindful way to share and show our appreciation for the “kids and dogs” photos? Or simply that we stop the sharing (and capturing of the moments which precede the sharing) altogether?

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Those are great questions! I would follow what Madeline Gabriel outlines in the article you mentioned. You do well to bring it up; my post was not at all specific about what might be OK. What is good practice? I leave that up to the experts. I do like Madeline’s thoughtful approach. We do want good examples making the rounds of kids and dogs interacting and/or coexisting, don’t we? The interesting thing is that those kinds of pics don’t tend to grab people like the dramatic ones do. That’s just a problem with humankind, I’m afraid, certainly myself included. Thanks for bringing up the missing piece.

  13. Robin J. says:

    The ASPCA’s behaviour department has an article on aggression in which they point out that “prey aggression” is very different from typical territorial or resource guarding because there are no initial warning postures. It’s really a hunting behaviour, so of course the dog doesn’t want to alert the prey before she strikes. And it’s this behaviour which is sadly all too often triggered by children.

    Of course a child playing roughly could also trigger defensive aggression, but just wanted to mention the prey issue as well since I think it fits those “out of the blue” cases.

    https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/aggression-dogs

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      I certainly agree! It brings to mind the recent surveillance video of the dog stalking the toddler on a tricycle and pulling him off. And thanks for the link. It’s good to be aware of all forms of aggression.

    • As the ASPCA notes, dogs with human prey aggression are very rare. and even working with ferals I’ve never seen a single case. But, there’s one they missed, which is not actually true aggression, but close. Picture a feral who is nervous but has learned to behave around adults and loves wild play with dogs. Now picture a running child, who is less threatening to him, and he runs over to eagerly play. But, he only knows how to play with dogs, so that’s what he does. And when the child yells and backs away with his hands held up, the dog runs and jumps, chasing and nipping him in play. And until those dogs learn to fully interact with adults, they can’t be taught the necessary social behaviors. So I suggest that “play aggression” is more common than the prey version.

  14. Mmmmmmm I saw someone post the other day their toddler literally crawling on their dog. Dog had wide eyes, looked unhappy. Next photo the dog looked happier but still with no way to easily walk away. I commented politely the dog didn’t look too thrilled and the reply was how tolerant the dog was. That’s the point, dogs shouldn’t be forced to tolerate. Last night I had a toddler and a pit bull in my bed, so clearly I don’t have an issue with them interacting, but I will never put my dogs in a situation where they have to “tolerate” a small child. Too much potential for tragic outcomes.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Good points. It’s so easy to be proud of a “tolerant” dog, without stopping to think that it’s unfair to ask them to “tolerate” so much.

  15. Daisywinner12 says:

    Ok so I enjoyed your article as I am a pediatric trauma nurse and have see the consequences of dogs attacking children. Although I enjoyed your article, I have to say I disagree! Kids and animals are a precious, innocent thing! Parents have to teach their children the limits with animals! I have a son who is very close with our cats and I have several pictures of them together since he was little and I wouldn’t trade those for anything! These memories are teaching my son compassion and love for animals so I’m not sorry that I post pics of my son and his best buddies!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Thank you for the polite expression of your disagreement! I certainly do agree that parents need to teach children limits with animals. (I would add, and keep the children safe when they are too small to understand limits.) Thanks for posting. (I made an edit to your post, per your followup. Please let me know if I didn’t get it right.)

  16. jill says:

    I don’t have kids, but I have a Service dog who is always out in the public. The other day I was waiting in an office waiting room and there was a young girl and her toddler. My dog was in a down in front of me (he’s usually under my chair but this chair he couldn’t fit under). Before I knew it the toddler launched himself across the small room and dove on top of my dog! He didn’t flinch, but I knew what could have happened, and MY dog would have suffered. I screamed at the totally oblivious girl to get her kid under control. Her response? “oh, he loves dogs, he plays with our pitbulls all the time.” I explained how she needs to teach her child impulse control and that not all dogs are friendly, or in the case of my service dog, distracting them can be very dangerous for the handler and a misdemeanor offense. I will say, a good 90% of the kids/parents see in public I hear “that’s a working dog, he has a very special job to do. You can’t pet him or bother him”. I’m not sure where parents are learning that, but I’m glad they are! Now if they just took as much care with the family dog!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      You shouldn’t have to educate on the fly, but I hope the young lady got the picture and will be more careful with her child (and other people’s dogs, and her own…) in the future. I’m glad to hear that good information about service dogs is being passed around by some! Thanks for posting.

    • Unfortunately, Jill’s incident is more common that we’d like to know. I’ve seen it repeatedly at the dog park, and one couple had two young kids running after the dogs. Even after many people spoke with them, they insisted there was no issue because their kids lived with a dog at home, and they had a right to be there so any dog there who couldn’t handle kids running at him should leave. We finally got the city to pass an ordinance so we could bring in the police to protect our dogs.

      • Kerry Tano says:

        I do have to reply to this. Just because a child has a dog at home and plays well with it, does not mean that child can play with your dog. Dogs are pack animals and my dogs played well with my children but I did not let other peoples children play with them and I did not allow my children to ever play with someone else’s dog.

        And I think this is an important fact that lots of people forget.

        You are not part of this dogs pack.

  17. Chris Elliott says:

    I allowed my 4 yr old to hug a doberman because my mother told me it was okay. Luckily the dog couldn’t get a good piece of his face because they were too close. Lesson learned the hard way.

  18. I understand and value the point you are trying to make, but I can’t entirely agree with your approach. I have most certainly seen a number of cringe-worthy dog/kid pics that scream “Bite waiting to happen”. As the parent of a 6 y/o, I’ve had to intervene and correct the inappropriate behavior of both visiting children and my own kid when interacting with my dogs.

    However, I have posted numerous pictures of my child and our dogs. In none of them is she displaying any horribly egregious behaviors toward the dog, but there are more than a few of her and the dogs snuggling contentedly together. It seems like you might disagree, but as both a parent and an animal welfare advocate, I believe there has to be a happy medium between promoting irresponsible kid/dog interactions, and celebrating the special bond that many kids share with their furry family members.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      We may be closer in stance than you think. I’ve had several responses from folks who may think that I am saying not to share pictures of kids and dogs together at all. I can see where that could be interpreted. But again, I’m going to leave the advising role of what is responsible to share to the experts. I think Madeline Gabriel’s piece, which I linked to, is a great example of the thoughtfulness I like seeing. Thanks a lot for posting. We need nice open talk about this.

  19. I completely agree with this information, however the way that the article is written kind of implies that babies/young children shouldn’t be around dogs at all. I’m not sure that’s the intent, but it comes across that way. I make sure that my dogs aren’t forced to put up with my baby pulling on them, ect, but I also want them to be able to be together. I wish you had also included information about, or links to information on, how kids and dogs can interact in appropriate and wonderful ways. I am maybe just taking it out on you unnecessarily, but it seems that every article I read preaches not letting babies/kids hardly touch dogs. I clearly understand your point about pictures of kids harassing dogs not being cute.. But it seems that a, perhaps unintended, point came across as well. I adore seeing my dogs with my baby, and expect to continue being responsible about how they interact.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Pitties,
      There have been a couple of others who had that impression. I just reread the piece and made one small edit to indicate the kinds of photos I’m talking about nearer the beginning of the piece, in case it seems to say one’s kids should never interact and one should never share pictures, etc. I’m all for seeing photos of comfortable interactions or coexistence. It’s easier to describe a problem than to propose a solution, but in this case I just don’t feel qualified to offer advice, even in generalities. That’s what the resources at the bottom were for, and they do indeed include very nice guidelines about safe kid and dog interactions. That’s also why I suggested sharing those pieces, rather than emphasizing sharing my own. I’ve been told before that I come on as too absolutist at times, and I’m taking your comments to heart. Thanks for writing.

      • I think for me I’ve read several similar articles recently so it seems like a bummer! I think its adorable when my baby snuggles with my dogs. I want to create a safe environment for both baby and dogs.. So its a hard battle and Ive seen several articles recently pushing the issue that baby/dog photos aren’t cute and its disheartening sometimes. Like, how do I find the perfect balance, you know? I DO understand the point you’re making. Its just very hard to distinguish between good dog/kid pictures and bad, and with the push against dog/kid interactions it sort of feels like you can’t do it right unless you keep them apart. I’m probably being over sensitive tho! I think overall your point is great. People do use the phrase “he puts up with anything the kids do” way too frequently. Dogs should feel safe and protected not ganged up on.

        • Eileen Anderson says:

          I agree that it is very hard to find where to draw the line, and distinguishing between good/bad photos. Most of us who post photos have been jumped on by critics, saying that the dog looks horribly uncomfortable when she probably wasn’t. (See: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words, But Are They the Right Ones?) And I hear you, I think we in the positive reinforcement based community hammer rather hard on this issue. OTOH, we are a lonely cry in the wilderness in the world of social media, given my impression from the sheer numbers of photos, shares, etc. You summed it up nicely: “Dogs should feel safe and protected not ganged up on.” Absolutely.

          P.S. Maybe my timing was poor here, following some outcry about specific photos. I tried to write something that wasn’t in response to any individual, in hopes of diluting the furor and providing something that people could post that didn’t attack anybody.

  20. Agreed…I always look at such images with a sense of unease. I have an aggressive dog (young but in chronic pain), and I find myself analysing the dogs body language intensely. Best not to take any chances, and best not to broadcast misleading images that falsely portray infinite tolerance.

  21. kim says:

    I don’t know. This whole concept rubs me wrong. So should we not share pictures of kids in cars because cars sometimes crash and kids get hurt? Or on their bicycles? Or participating in sports? I’m not saying don’t lend a critical eye to what you put out there, but I don’t watch those “viral” videos and think “goodness all dogs are harmless, look how cute that is!” And I don’t know anyone who watches those videos who generalizes a specific dog’s behavior to their own animal. Case in point, I have a 12 year old mini doxie that my kids KNOW is grumpy with kids, and we have a 7 year old yellow lab who is immensely tolerant of pretty much everything. We teach them the difference, we teach them to watch their cues, and we teach them to ask permission prior to petting a strange dog. I’m sure I have many photos of my kids as toddlers with our yellow lab getting climbed on and played with.

    Why is putting a picture of my dog and my then toddlers any different than a picture of us all happily riding our bikes? Accidents happen. Most of them preventable by paying closer attention to the surroundings, just like with dogs.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      I think your response may be another that has interpreted my post as saying no one should share pictures of kids and dogs together, ever, period. That’s not what I think or, FWIW, what I wrote.

      Using your analogy, I am saying that one shouldn’t post a picture of a kid on a tricycle riding in the middle of the street with the comment, “He really likes those Ford trucks–look how close he is getting to that one!” That sounds ridiculous because it is widely recognized that that is a dangerous practice. It is also socially unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is still pretty socially acceptable to take very large risks with kids and dogs. There are plenty of videos that are just about as scary to watch as my fictitious traffic situation above. Those are the ones that need to stop making the rounds.

      To answer your last question, the difference between posting a picture of your dog and your toddlers (let’s say climbing on him because you said you have some like that) and one of you all happily riding your bikes are as follows:

      Bikes are inanimate objects;
      There isn’t a whole mythos about how bikes would never hurt us and will in fact protect us (and in addition, keep working even if we treat them roughly);
      What constitutes bike safety is fairly widely agreed upon;
      If you or one of your kids falls off your bike and gets hurt, the bike doesn’t get euthanized.

  22. Ola says:

    How nice to see that many people cringe when they see those type of pictures. For a long time I thought I was the only one! When I got a reactive puppy I started to study dog’s body language almost religiously and now I see distress in all of those images. Unfortunately the subtle signs to a possible bite are so hard to see for an inexperienced dog owner.

    I also read the articles you linked below your post and I have to disagree with one of the pictures, at least when it comes to my pup:
    http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/unhappylab.jpg
    that’s exactly how my girl looks when she’s sleepy!:) But maybe all that sleepiness is making her unhappy 😉

    Cheers Eileen, always nice to read your posts and thoughts!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Thanks, Ola! I so agree that the subtle signs are at first hard to see–then after one learns a bit, you just can’t not see them! And often, talking to people who don’t see them gets a wee bit uncomfortable. Love it that you looked over the links! That’s OK to disagree about a picture! I could see that one going a couple different ways too. Thanks for commenting!

  23. lesley swain says:

    I too cringe when I see the vimes and videos etc flying around Facebook in particular. All I can see are the triggers and the distress in the dog’s body language……….but I can also understand where the posters are coming from. It is cute to see your toddler cuddling your dog. It is cute to see your toddler kissing your dog. I don’t think that most parents starting point is that all dogs are infinitely tolerant, but I do believe that people become complacent…….that many more (possibly inappropriate) people own dogs these days………that parents become lazy in their supervision (notiimplying here that dogs and children are okay if supervised!)……….that too few people ever undertake any sort of training class or bother to learn much about their dog beyond what it should eat and how to make it sit!
    My general rules for dog and child (not baby) interaction are that the dog makes the choice, should always be the one to approach unless being specifically called for reward (ie child should never run toward dog), should always be able to leave, should never ever be displaying signs of stress or anxiety during play and should never under any circumstances share play that involves ragging, tugging or wrestling. It seems a little harsh but I’ve worked a long time to help my dogs be sociable and happy dogs and quite apart from the risk to a child or the risk of euthanasia, I want them to carry on trusting that I will keep them safe…….

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Lesley,

      I love your rules; thanks for posting them. They are great contribution to the discussion. The basic guideline of letting the dog choose can take us a very long way, can’t it! So can common sense. Thanks so much for the comment.

  24. Amy says:

    After reading this, i don’t know how to feel. I am an avid dog fan. I have fostered and rescued many over the years as with my partner who trained and bred german shepherds for garda use. Every owner has a responsibility to train their dogs and ‘educate their children’. My children do spend a lot of time with my dogs, and do play with them, sleep on the sofa with them etc. They know to NOT pester the dogs, hang off them or annoy them in any way as we have large dogs, two dobermans and a rottweiler.
    It is very dangerous for children NOT to know boundaries with animals and i think that every owner needs to educate themselves on dog behaviour. If you want to live with an animal, you need to know all about it. Google is a powerful tool and so is cesar milan!
    On the other hand, there are over zealous over protective helicopter parents who really do encourage dog fears within their children which is also as dangerous as a child who adores dogs and launches themselves at every dog in their vicinity.
    my doberman was outside the other day with us and a little girl had an absolute freak out because she was petrified of dogs. i have to say, i felt incredibly sorry for this little girl being absolutely petrified of the most common animal in the world who she will encounter every day of her life. Her mother only encouraged this fear by grabbing her child off the ground and freaking out at me because we had our dog outside in our cul de sac with us.
    Needless to say, i did of course apologise that her daughter was afraid of my dogs …..why i dont know but i felt a duty to. But now, my dogs are banished to my back yard and cannot have play time with us on our green as a child across the green is petrified. Truly wonderful. :/

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Yes, I don’t know how to strike that balance. Striking fear in the hearts of children certainly isn’t a great outcome. I do think that programs such as the ones I linked to can help children develop confidence along with caution. But I hear you. That situation is sad for the child, and for you and your dogs.

  25. bill says:

    I agree with your article it’s on point..can you do one about the dangers of having kids around the most dangerous of animals..HUMANS…in all fairness every spot where the use of the word dog is used in the above article the word person can be inserted instead..except the tail pulling of course..I’m sure an even shorter Internet search could be done to get the quotes needed to support it..just saying yes it’s a good alarmist piece but so would the human story be as well.

  26. rachael para says:

    excellent subject. No-one is talking about but has been a major pet-peeve of mine on social media for some time. To go along with dogs and kids, the horse and kids is the same problem. There are tons of videos of small kids milling around a horses legs and everyone thinks the horse is somekind of magical being.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Oh Rachael, very good point. A whole other scenario that also hasn’t been well addressed.

    • Michele Milana says:

      Not to mention the pics of toddlers on 16h horses, no hard hat, nobody close to them…a major cause of angst for me! My heart rate speeds up just thinking about it. Rachael, yes, the legs! Good grief, what if the horse thinks the child brushing against it is a fly…

  27. As an avid dog advocate, an uncle to many small children, and soon to be father I respectfully disagree. There are always going to be people that fail to properly educate themselves on how to protect their own. Not posting these pictures is not going to get these people to take the initiative to train themselves on how to protect their child in potentially dangerous situations. It is very scary to think about children being injured in this way and it’s very normal to want to be able to do something about it but I don’t believe trying to turn our world into a giant padded room is what we need as a society. We should not put someone else’s failure on our shoulders and live in constant fear that we are somehow contributing to the death or maiming of children by posting a picture of our child. If this is something that we as a society honestly believe is a problem then I would like to also suggest no one post pictures of kids in a swimming pool or on a diving board by themselves. A viewer of such a picture will have no insight into the level of training the child in the photograph has had and could make the assumption that it’s ok to let their child loose in a swimming pool. Should we worry about pictures of our children on the playground with no adults in the picture? People may see that and think it’s ok to drop their kids off at a park unsupervised. Where does it end? At what point do the enormity of precautionary measures we’ve all agreed to take allow us to finally relax and be able to enjoy our lives without worrying our actions are contributing to the deaths of children. I would like to suggest that we are already there, at least as far as posting pictures of children with their pets is concerned. Please reach out and try to educate the uneducated, that is a truly wonderful objective. Some will refuse to listen and that is extremely sad, but at least having tried to educate people will help each of us cope with the fact that some people will just never do what’s right by their children. I strongly doubt anyone in the future, having done nothing to try to educate people on the proper way to handle children and pets together, is going to read a story about a child being attacked by a pet and think to themselves, “That’s horrible, but at least I didn’t post that picture of Kimmy and Fido on Facebook, so I did my part.”. Please strive to educate every last individual about the dangers of not managing the child/pet relationship. I just personally don’t believe that asking the whole world to censor themselves, and to fear that everything they share (or want to share) with people has the chance of contributing to a tragedy is a worthwhile goal. Thanks.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Thanks Mike for putting your point of view out there, persuasively and politely. I agree with much of what you say. I do think dogs are in a different position from swimming pools and diving boards, but I wrote about that before. And yes, there’s a slippery slope. For myself I will defer to the people who actually work with parents, kids and dogs for where to draw the line. Thanks again for a thoughtful comment.

  28. Margo Sturgess says:

    Thank you for this article. Thirty years ago I was the proud mother of a 1 year old beautiful daughter and master of two gorgeous loving extremely well behaved Doberman Pincers. Not quite the same as your story but my older female dog was dlerlkng in my walking closet with her back to the door. My daughter wandered into the room, said “Doggie” , ran to her and jumped on her. In a normal response the dog turned and bit my daughter’s face quite badly. I was sickened because the outcome was my pet had to be euthanized which nearly killed me as she was my buddy long before my daughter came along. Please don’t get me wrong. My daughter is my heart so you can imagine the pain. The only thing that softened the blow was that unknown to us, the dog was also ill with a cerebral abscess and would most likely have been euthanized within weeks of the accident
    She was ill as well. My daughter from that day was fearful of all dogs and no matter what it was they all tried to nip her until she was 18 when she rescued an abandoned Rottweiler in a terrible snowstorm. She cared for that dog like a child and her commitment to caring for all of its needs saved her life because she got on a negative path with cocaine. Had it not been for her need to come home, feed and walk her dog which she free yo love she would have most likely od’d on that garbage. I was able to communicate with her and express my concern and how much her dog loved her. I cry each time I tell this story. Phoenix lived to a ripe old age of 15 and they were inseparable. They saved each other. My daughter is a really lovely responsible young lady who completed university and now works in the jewellery business, which was her fathers career as well. My point here is that no matter how loving a dog is, it can be triggered to do what is naturel for it. Children have been killed by two dogs who would normally not be aggressive.
    DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHIKDREN UNATTENDED WITH YOUR PET NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU THINK YOU KNOW THEM. I still have my daughter and the story turned out better than a lot.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Thank you for sharing your stories. I’m so sorry about the trauma to your daughter and that you lost your dog that way. I’m so glad things turned around for your daughter. You are kind for telling us about that.

      (I fixed some typos because of your message where you were concerned about that.)

  29. I am so much confused why parents allow their child with a dog. i think this may harmful for a little child. thanks for your informative post.

  30. Pingback: Pet Blogger Challenge 2016 - eileenanddogseileenanddogs

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