Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reading Into Things

The Dodo, surely our favorite source of questionable material, picked up on this video from the Humane Society of Missouri recently, about a creative new program that's supposedly benefiting kids and dogs alike: 

It’s really great to see shelters trying to make themselves into welcoming, educational places for kids–let me get that straight first of all. However,  this video isn’t showing many dogs that look like they’re getting much out of the experience. I'll go through chronologically:

Two of the dogs in the second shot are clearly barking at the window; very definitely no relaxation for those guys. 

The tan and white bully type, in the front between 0:21 and 0:29 almost seems like it’s adorably trying to follow along with the words, but look how still he is.  The dog is staring, with a half-bowed head and tense front legs—all in all, probably not a picture of relaxation. 

The black and white one is exhibiting classic signs of stress - we can see panting, pacing around the room, looking around, and yawning. Again, the behavior suggests a dog who is not having a chill time of things.

And the last dog, with the cone—fast asleep, so who knows? Dogs sleep when they’re recovering, when they’re relaxed, and also when they’re highly stressed. It’s impossible to tell which of those is happening, so again, this isn’t showing us much.

Getting kids involved in learning about dogs is a great thing, but placing them outside their habitats and having them make incomprehensible noises without interacting with the dogs seems like it’s more likely to be a stressful experience than a calming one. 

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