Completely unrelated to design, but something I’m rather opinionated on this morning: Dangerous Dogs. Warning, this post is mostly personal opinion that is too long to fit into a tweet. Facts may be distorted by my brain.
Recently in Chingford, UK, a child of 6 was attacked by a dog whilst in her local park with her parents. There are now calls for dog licenses to be reinstated, ID chips attached to potentially dangerous dogs, adding more breeds to the dangerous dogs list, and even compulsory muzzling around children under 12. I hope the child recovers soon, and doesn’t develop a crippling fear of dogs from this, but are all these suggested measures knee jerk reactions? Is it the dog, or us that needs training and restrictions?
Despite being a dog owner myself, and knowing a lot of other dog owners of various breeds, I’m still of two minds about this subject. On the one hand, there are breeds who have been bred to be aggressive – ironically, most naturally aggressive breeds are the small, cute, ‘handbag’ breeds with in-built Napoleon complexes – and that’s our fault for messing with them until they get to that point. On the other, there are breeds that look aggressive, are actually placid in the right hands, but have their reputation sullied by a few isolated events (e.g. Rottweilers) and in those cases the dogs are often owned by individuals who have deliberately trained them to behave as they have. I know a pedigree Rottweiler breeder who’s doge are some of the the soppiest creatures I’ve ever known, because she trains them so rigorously to behave in the show ring and to meet the required standards of obedience and social behavior.
The majority of the attacks, that are string up the controversy, are on children. No dog should be left alone with a child! I don’t care how well behaved it is, how long you’ve had it, how old it is, or how it “wouldn’t harm a fly”. Dogs are still animals with basic instincts that they are slaves to. If something makes a high pitch noise, they’re not going to like it. If it moves quickly, they’ll chase it – unless you’ve turned your pet into a barrel on legs. My Border Collie is, for the most part, very well behaved. She has her moments where another dog looks at her funny or a baby laughs on TV, but despite her behavioral training, I would never trust her to be alone with my young cousins – or any young child. My parents were sensible enough to wait until my siblings and myself were old enough to handle, and behave around, a ball of barking fluff before we got our dog. When she first encountered a real life baby, she walked into the room. Looked at me. Looked at my mum. Looked at my aunty. Sniffed the baby, licked its head, and left the room. Apparently it wasn’t tasty enough to eat.
The point I’m taking forever to get to is that any dog can be a dangerous animal, be it a natural inclination or a learnt behavior. In my opinion, anyone who deliberately trains a dog to be aggressive (outside of a professional capacity, e.g. Police, Military, etc.) shouldn’t be allowed to own animals, full stop. It is the owners responsibility to treat them in a way that doesn’t encourage aggression, to train them to behave and respond to basic commands, and to supervise their pets around children. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners? However! Parents should be responsible enough to supervise their children around dogs, and teach them not to pet any without asking the dog owner first. That’s what my parents did, and I’ve still got all my fingers.
Don’t get me started on leaving cats alone with Children!
This is what happens when you watch The Wright Stuff in the morning. I’m off to walk my dog.