It Is NOT Cute

This is part of a series I am working on for the local paper.   I am able to expand upon this here and make additions I cannot on a print paper.

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I was sent a video of a darling French Bulldog puppy that was intently playing with a toy. Suddenly a hand comes into the picture and begins trying to take the toy, pokes the pup, etc. The pup’s response begins to escalate from a cessation of play and a hard look at the human to lunging and snarling over the short video. If one more person commented on how silly the puppy was and how cute it was in the ferociousness, I would have screamed. The puppy is actually learning to distrust humans and may develop resource guarding issues.  Now, I have tried to find the video but was unable to with any of the search parameters I used.  Sorry – but read on.  I have found other videos to show what I mean with how what humans think is funny really annoys dogs.

  This French Bulldog puppy is being annoyed by a poking human but had not reached the intensity of the video I am referring to and I hope to find again.

  Now look at this video – human is being silly with this Bernese Mountain Dog but in reality, look at how stressed this dog is becoming.

Another video showed a kitten, on his back, with a person making a silly noise and tickling the kitten.  Oh how cute! No, not really. As you watch the kitten, his body language begins to change. He is becoming annoyed. The kitten is learning distrust. Hands are becoming scary. The human making this video is increasing the chance of the kitten lashing out at humans and inflicting damage as he grows.

A final video I wish to highlight shows a Chihuahua barking violently at a relative. The relative picks the dog up and the dog freezes. This is a dog whose terror is extreme. If this were a German Shepherd barking at a human like this, would the person keep approaching? No. In fact there is a good chance the dog would be called dangerous. This tiny dog is not only approached but picked up. What happens? The dog freezes in fear. This dog has no trust and he is being placed in a very dangerous situation. The next time the dog may not freeze in fear but attack. Even a small dog can inflict serious damage.

I see a lot of people posting about how funny these videos are and how cute the tiny animals are behaving. From a training and behavior standpoint, they are neither funny nor cute. The first two videos I mentioned illustrated how the behaviors in the final video can come about. I am sickened when I see videos like this. It is not because I am a stick in the mud or lack a sense of humor but because I know how these things escalate. I know the resulting behavioral problems that often follow.

  Just look at how stressed the Chihuahua is and the caption is “My cute apple head Chihuahua Daphne attacks me without warning!” I do not know about you but I see an insane amount of warning.

I think back to a friend and her Chihuahua. She thought it was hysterical that her veterinarian was unable to examine the dog because the dog was so nasty. I had seen the dog and all the behaviors were human-caused and dangerous. Eventually the vet refused to allow the dog in unless they sedated the dog prior to arrival. I have seen severe bites to humans from small dogs. Not to mention the intense stress these dogs are under. I have been seriously scratched by kittens that had no trust of humans. However, I had to assist in vaccinating them so there was no alternative but to restrain them and this was before Dr Sophia Yin’s low stress handling program.

Please understand the behaviors in these videos you share are not funny. They show animals under undue stress. If you interact with your pets in such ways, you are increasing the risk of serious behavioral problems developing. I ask you to think twice before sharing or even doing anything you may see in videos as these.

Part 2

Karen Peak runs West Wind Dog Training and The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project in Prince William County.

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