I confess that while I'm usually a very optimistic person, the skeptical side of me often greets headlines with cynicism. When I saw the headline of this post, I clicked through, prepared to be annoyed -- and instead, found a very thoughtful piece about "Why Supervising dogs and kids doesn't work". As any regular reader knows, I often talk about the need FOR parental supervision of dogs/child interactions -- so you can understand why I was skeptical. Instead, I was greeted with a very good introductory paragraph:
"It's sound advice given frequently: Supervise your dogs and kids while they're together. Breeders warn parents, 'Don't leave the dog alone with children, no matter how friendly the breed.' Veterinarians advise, "Never leave a dog and a child in the same room together." Dog trainers explain, "All dogs can bite so supervise your dog when you have children over.' Everyone knows the drill. SO why doesn't it work? There are an estimated 800,000 Americans seeking medical attention for dog bites each year with over half of these injuries to children ages 5-9?
"The bites are not a result of negligent parents leaving Fido to care for the baby while mom does household chores, oblivious to the needs of her children. In fact, I've consulted with hundreds of dog bite cases and 95% of the time the parent is standing within 3 feet of the child watching both the child and dog when the child was bitten. Parents are supervising. The problem is not lack of supervision. The problem is no one has taught parents what they should be watching."
While I'm not sure I agree with the 95% number the author mentions (and this certainly isn't the case in the really major attacks that make headlines), there is certainly evidence to show that her overall thought is exactly right -- including even very disturbing videos of parents filming dangerous child/dog interactions without any awareness of the canine warning signals.
She goes on to talk more about what parents should be looking for. This is great, as dog behavior is very predictable, while child behavior is what is erratic. But I think it's a good reminder to all of us that "supervision" isn't really enough -- knowing what to look for is also required.