Let Sleeping Dogs Lie!

The summer holiday season always seems to be the commonest time of year for children and adults to get bitten by our pets. But what is it that gets into the minds of our canine and feline friends to make them suddenly turn aggressive? In one word: Visitors.

Sussex is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of the UK; tiny chocolate box hamlets, cricket on the village green, and world-famous surrounding countryside all naturally attracting our fare share of visitors.

They come from far and wide to either holiday or visit family, usually combining the two. But our pets can suddenly find themselves surrounded by unfamiliar children who maul them; pulling their tails and ears, and generally disturb their peace and quiet.

It’s so crucial to teach children how to respect dogs and cats, indeed any animal, and the importance of just leaving them well alone – for the animal’s sake and indeed their own safety. For example, kids have a habit of approaching a sleeping dog from the rear, which they see as the blunt end.

The dog thinks he is being attacked, threatened, and often reacts in a reflex manner. He may snarl or even bite his ‘attacker’.

A dog will always act instinctively when he thinks he is being attacked and it’s paramount that children, and indeed adults who do not have experience of pets, understand this. If the children are small and simply cannot understand, then maybe the best plan is to put the dog into kennels, thereby removing the risk all together?

In my consulting room, I’ve heard the expression “My dog has turned nasty” far too many times for my liking and I hate pets being blamed for anything, especially when it’s clearly their owner’s fault.

So to one lady I replied “I’m not surprised… Why don’t you tell your little girl to leave him alone then?” That went down well, but thankfully I recently heard that a new home was found for the traumatized pooch, who must now be so grateful, and finally able to get some well-deserved and uninterrupted sleep.

So if you’re expecting visitors in your house this summer, especially those who are inexperienced with pets, please carefully prepare for these potential problems; so much better to be forewarned and forearmed than to suffer a horrific accident.

Never ever leave children and pets together unsupervised. Finally, remember that cat scratches can be just as (if not more) dangerous, as dog bites as the normal bacteria inside a cats mouth are particularly poisonous to our blood systems. Always seek medical attention if at all concerned.

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