Even as I type this, my Facebook newsfeed is being overtaken by the viral video of a little girl standing with six dogs as they eat from a big pile of food. People are going crazy over it, talking about how cute it is, and how it “shows Pit Bulls in a positive light.” From an advocate’s point of view, I can tell you this video is not cute — it’s irresponsible.
Watch the video, then read on.
I have lived in a multiple-dog household and volunteered for shelters. Feeding time is typically a very high-energy time in any dog’s day. There’s the excitement over the prospect of food, plus resource guarding that can quickly rise to the surface over a misplaced paw or a sidelong glance at the wrong food bowl. Proper training can reduce the risk of resource guarding and fights, but even a well-trained dog is not 100-percent predictable.
Just last August, a little girl was attacked by two dogs while helping her grandfather feed them. The owners of the dogs stated they had never witnessed any aggressive behavior from the dogs before. See, the thing about dogs is that they don’t fight … until they do.
In the video, a woman says, “Six male Pit Bulls … people said it could never be done.” Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. In this case, this owner is putting six dogs and a small child in danger. As much as we love our dogs and often attribute human characteristics to them, they are still animals and will behave as such.
As dog owners, we have a responsibility to protect our dogs, even from themselves. Watching this video, I can see the hard work the owner put into training them, but I also see a disaster waiting to happen, not to mention the countless people who will see the video and try to follow its example. I spoke with Lisa Matthews, an Ed.S. and a licensed Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer, about the video and what insight she could offer regarding the situation.
“Sharing our homes with animals creates a huge responsibility for parents to monitor all that goes on and to set everyone up for success. Behavior, trained or not, is never 100-percent reliable,” says Matthews. “Just as we saw in the recent photo of the young boy standing on his dog to reach the counter, just because something can be done, does not mean that it is the wisest choice.”
When training with dog owners who also have children, she cautions them, “Children do not possess the foresight and reasoning skills of adults. It takes dogs less than .5 seconds to inflict a bite. We must always put safety first and most especially when children are involved.”
As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but think of all of the possibilities in my head. With six dogs, and at least one other behind a pet gate, you are dealing with a large group of variables, ranging from task persistence to understanding and obeying the correct commands on cue. Many video commentators were adamant that the dogs were “too well-trained to disobey” and that they “know who is boss,” but I fully agree with Matthews when she said that behavior is never 100-percent reliable.
I know that, as a parent, I would rather not take the risk with my child’s life and the life of my dog. I want my daughter to grow up to respect my dog and to love him, and vice versa, but I also want them to have and understand healthy boundaries.
What did you think when you watched the video? Did you think it was cute or wildly irresponsible? Let us know in the comments!
Read more about dog bites and prevention:
About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.