Sunday, 11 May 2014

Avoiding puppy problems with small children

A new puppy in the home is very exciting  and we Perfect Pet Sitters love our clients’ pets – new or old - almost as much as they do! We certainly give them endless attention and whether living in (our premier service) or visiting your pet’s daily, they’re treated like stars.

As well as the love of pets, something else that unites us and our clients is abhorence of cruelty to animals. And something I saw recently made me think how ‘problem pets’ can be caused by what they experience in the very homes where they should find only love and kindess.

Let me explain. My previous blog was about little Harry who my clients rescued. From the way Harry would cringe they suspect he’d been beaten in his past.

Now with loving, caring owners, Harry finally has great life. And when I went to to live-in with him, I took him everywhere with me – even on a Road trip to Kiama. It was as I was walking around Kiama town that the following scene played out in front of me.

I was standing letting Harry do some sniffing, and right in front of me a man is his late 30s was sitting on the grass talking to friends. Behind his back limited by the length of lead was a tiny bundle of fluff I took to be a Cavoodle, probably not even 14 weeks old. As I stood with Harry, I saw the man’s daughter hit the dog on the head a number of times, then she poked, then prodded – until the distressed puppy yelped in pain.

How could anyone hurt a puppy?
This is a model - not the puppy ill-treated as described in this blog!
The father carried on talking completely ignoring the dog’s cries and the horrible scene going on behind him. The tiny puppy in trying to defend itself against the onslaught made a little growl which the 4 ish year old girl took as her cue to pick up a stick and then repeatedly hit the puppy over the head with it.

Fully expecting to get abuse, I nevertheless decided I could not walk on by and spoke to the man. However, whilst he acknowledged what I said, he simply threw the stick a few feet away. From his casual response (plus the fact he said nothing at all to the girl) I thought how she was treating the puppy was not the first time.

Here’s the thing – children are often rough with pets. But what this girl was doing was more than a little rough play. In fact it is not uncommon for children to hurt animals and there has been much written around the subject. Partly it’s about a child developing, realising their strength and finding they have power over something. But at some level a child knows what they are doing is wrong when they do it furtively.  

With the Instinct to fight or flight a puppy will try to escape, but children can be relentless and pursue them. Eventually if the torment continues the fight response could surface and the desperate animal might well snap at or even bite its persecutor. Once a child is bitten the dog is always blamed. If lucky it might get a second chance through Rescue. But if labelled ‘aggressive’ will likely be euthanised - a very unfair end to what is nearly always an avoidable situation.

No parent wants to think their child could be cruel  – but it has to be  acknowledged that this behaviour does happen and that small children and young, vulnerable animals are not always a marriage made in heaven.

I have witnessed first hand the way tormenting behaviour can change the character of pet which in a different home would have made an ideal family dog.

If you would like a copy of my PDF detailing the top 10 actions which will help puppies, and any dog including rescue dogs, fit in and be happy with your family, email me at I will send you a copy.

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