This post is kindly sponsored by…
A new advertising campaign for a dental treat has rightfully sparked outrage by educated pet owners.
The campaign features a picture of a young baby lifting the lip of a thankfully very tolerant labrador. Clearly this was seen as a very sweet image to be featured by the pet food giant, but in reality the dog’s expression tells a very different story.
This particular image has been used on social media for a very long time to highlight the danger of unsupervised child/dog interaction and to help explain the way in which our dogs communicate their fear and anxiety.
The dog in question is showing incredible restraint, but is using its wide eyes (known as ‘whale eye’ by canine experts) and sideways gaze, to express how uncomfortable it is. This clear message is saying to the baby “Please leave me alone”.
Seeing these signs on a photo can be tricky to recognize, however, this recent video that thankfully caused equal outcry shows another very restrained dog demonstrating the same expression of discomfort.
Many dogs would not have been so restrained and it a credit to the dog in question that it did not resort to biting the child after having its request ignored.
In the United states, 1000 people require emergency treatment for dog bites, every day (1). There are thankfully many professionals working tirelessly to prevent childhood dog bites, including our own Victoria Stilwell who runs the fantastic Dog Bite Prevention Conferences in both the UK and USA.
While we do not know the exact background to this photo, for Pedigree to use it as part of their advertising campaign is a massive error of judgment. In order that the public realise that allowing a young child to interact with any dog in such a manner is extremely dangerous, I hope they quickly reconsider its use.
- Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008, by Laurel Holmquist, M.A. and Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD., November 2010.