Dog Attack: 6 More Things NOT to Say
The dog attack trauma and drama continue here. Most people really don't get what a BFD getting attacked by dogs truly is. For many people, it's lifechanging. After I posted Dog Attack: 5 Things NOT to Say, fellow survivors of dog attacks shared their pet peeves. Here's a round up of more comments or suggestions that don't help. Plus, the story of an aggressive dog in my past.
More Comments You Definitely Should NOT Make After a Dog Attack
1. "Hang in there."
I've been guilty of saying this to pals in other scenarios -- life stress, big diagnoses, chronic illnesses, breakups, etc. I'm working on removing the phrase from my vocab. I know it's meant to be supportive, but when you're already hanging in there by a very narrow thread, it rings hollow. Let's all stop saying it in any context.
2. "If you'd been more alpha, it wouldn't have happened."
STFU. STFU. STFU with the outdated, totally debunked, scientifically false pack leader BS. If you don't understand why this whole concept is the biggest load of crap, please do some reading on the topic. I suggest this article by Pat Miller, which reads in part ... "Why every mention of 'alpha dogs' or 'dominant' dogs is dangerous to all dogs." In fact, there's a good chance that at least some aggressive dogs have been trained using punishment and intimidation, which only makes things worse. Think of it like this -- punishment dog training is like domestic violence toward dogs. It damages the dog and makes it more likely (not less) that the dog will bite or attack.
3. "It has never happened before."
Ahhh, denial. The problem with dog bite records is that dog bites and dog attacks are grossly underreported because SO many of them happen at home or with friends / family by known dogs or because other people don't want the dog to "get in trouble." In other words, just because there isn't an official record of a prior dog bite or attack doesn't mean there haven't been other incidents. I'm also fairly certain that dog bite records don't get shared across jurisdictions in a lot of places, so if a dog moves around, his bite records might not go with him. In Colorado, though, some dangerous dogs go onto a statewide registry.
Yes, sure, there is a first time for everything. Handled properly it should also be the LAST time too, but it often isn't because people don't take it seriously, don't take responsibility for the danger some dogs pose, and don't take steps to address the problem to keep others safe.
For about 10 days, many years ago, we had a dog who started showing aggression toward me and our other dog at the time. Thankfully, he never bit or attacked per se, but he easily could have. After one particular scary incident, a savvy friend told me to get that dog out of my house before he hurt me. We returned him to the shelter. They euthanized him. Heartbreaking as it was. It was 100% the right decision for that dog. He was dangerous because he was suffering. Emotional suffering is still suffering. We lay dogs to rest for their physical ailments. We should also lay them to rest for certain behavioral ailments too. People want pets not projects, as the saying goes.
4. "Why can't you walk somewhere else?"
Because people shouldn't (bleeping) have to. Neighborhoods, communities, parks, trails, roads, etc. should be SAFE for walkers of all species. And, in many cases, especially if you live with more than one dog and walk them individually, it's logistically impractical to pack up and go somewhere else to walk. It takes too much time. Some of us work for a living.
5. "Your presence alone triggered the dog attack."
If a dog attacks someone simply for walking in public, then that (bleeping) dog shouldn't be in public. Period.
6. Any discussion of how leash handling would have helped prevent a dog attack.
A lot of the discussion around dog bites and dog attacks fall into the trap of only focusing on leashes because often nothing good happens when an off-leash dog runs up to an on-leash dog. It's a major problem. I get it. Yet, it's in the same category as telling people what they should have done that we covered earlier. Maybe helpful in broader discussions. Not helpful for someone following an attack.