Karin saw an interesting thing on television yesterday about dogs and how to approach an unfamiliar dog for the first time. (It was one of those dog-behavior shows that is on early Saturday mornings and that you only watch if you have a dog and are interested in this stuff.) The basis of the argument was (and I’m paraphrasing from Karin here) this:
- Dogs use their mouths to grasp and pick up objects. Obviously their paws are useless for this sort of thing. In other words, a dog’s mouth is not only a food receptacle, but it is also an important tool.
- The human analogue (from the perspective of a dog) of a dog’s mouth is the human hand. Not only do we seem to share food (treats, scraps, etc) from our hands with the dog, but we use our hands to grasp objects.
- We can think about this rationally and differentiate a hand from a mouth, but dogs are creatures of pure instinct and (probably, according to the show) consider our hands in the same way they would consider another animal’s mouth.
- Thus, sticking a closed hand in the face of a dog is about as smart as sticking your face in the face of another dog, and may be considered an act of aggression by the animal.
It sounds a little abstract, I know, but if you think about it — and if you have the opportunity to observe how a dog interacts with your hands — you can see there might be some credibility behind the idea.