UPDATE: AVSAB releases position statement on "Smooch Your Pooch"
The prestigious and wonderful American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has just released a position statement on the children's book Smooch Your Pooch which we discussed yesterday on the dogster blog. Hot of the presses, I thought I'd share with our dogster audience!
Date: December 14, 2010
Web site: www.avsabonline.org
AVSAB WARNS of THE DANGERS ONE CHILDRENS BOOK POSES TO KIDS and THEIR PETS.
While kids are frequently seen to have a special bond with pets, children under the age of 10 are among those most commonly bitten by the dogs.
Many factors can contribute to dog bites in children, and one such factor is hugging and kissing by kids. Consequently, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) strongly advises that parents avoid purchasing the recently released childrens book Smooch Your Pooch for their kids. The book recommends that children Smooch your pooch to show that you care. Give him a hug anytime, anywhere. This information can cause children to be bitten.
Says one AVSAB member, Dr. Ilana Reisner, whose area of research is dog bites and children, Although some dogs are not reactive about being kissed and hugged, these types of interactions are potentially provocative, leading to bites.
In a study published by Reisner and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, records of bites to 111 children were examined. Says Reisner, We looked at dogs that had bitten children and found that most children had been bitten by dogs that had no history of biting. Most important here, says Reisner, familiar children were bitten most often in the contexts of "nice" interactionssuch as kissing and hugging with their own dogs or dogs that they knew.
The study also found that in addition to biting when they are hugged, kissed, bent over or sometimes simply petted, dogs are reactive when they are approached/touched while resting, when they have anything they consider "high value" (food, toys, a favorite blanket, or even the parent), and when they are hurt or frightened. These are the types of situations where children who have read Smooch Your Pooch may seek to interact with their dogs.
AVSAB recommends that children play with dogs in a more productive way such as by playing fetch or training tricks. We also recommend children avoid approaching or interacting with dogs who are lying down, resting or sleeping. Children, should instead interact with the dog only when the dog approaches willingly. Families with children are encouraged to train their dogs to come to them to be petted by have treats ready to reward the dog for approaching.