Boys will be Boys and Dogs can BITE because of it…

Dogs, Cats And Other People: Boys Will Be Boys

Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis

Dogs bite boys twice as often as girls. Why? Boys play rough.

It’s true. Boys pour salt on slugs, throw rocks at cars, light things on fire, blow their own fingers off with bottle rockets and firecrackers, and shoot each other with BB guns. Girls? Yeah, they can be mean, bossy and loud, but they aren’t typically roughhousers, and statistically that pays off. Check out the stats at

Last week I got a call from a distraught mom. Her 3-year-old boy kicked the dog, and the dog bit him on the head.

From an ethical standpoint and a humanistic point of view, that dog shouldn’t be kept around children. He bites. End of discussion, from that standpoint.

The big question remains, though, dangling in the air like a slab of raw meat: Why did the kid kick the dog in the first place?

All children, and especially boys, have to be taught how to handle and care for a dog if they’re going to live in the same house with one, for the dog’s sake and their own.

A mother of 9-year-old and 12-year-old boys e-mailed me a few months ago regarding the family dog, which had been aggressive toward strangers and other dogs but not her kids. In fact, her kids “can pull his ears and tail, take his food, sit on him, etc. with no problems.” She later signed off with, “We love this dog, but know we can’t risk the safety of others.”

Boy, oh, boy… That’s some kind of lovin’.

This week I got an e-mail from another mom, quite proud of the fact that her dog doesn’t bite. “Charlie is never aggressive, even when my 2 1/2-year-old son hits him in the head with the remote control or a plastic golf club.” Not aggressive? Not yet.

Little boys playing rough is part of boys being boys. But when little boys play rough with dogs, there’s a good chance someone’s going to get hurt. The behaviors these women describe go beyond playing rough. It’s animal abuse. And it’s only a matter of time before the family dog,   “that’s only been aggressive toward strangers” or “has never been aggressive at all,” turns on his own family.

It’s the parent’s job to keep their kids safe. It’s the parent’s responsibility to know better, to teach the child, to train the dog.

Remember the San Francisco case of Maureen Faibish? She was charged with felony child endangerment after her son was mauled to death by the family dogs. Two dogs: one male, one female. Rex, the male, weighed 70 pounds and had nipped the boy earlier that day. The female was in heat. Rex was agitated. Mrs. Faibish barricaded her son in a room next to the room where the dogs were kept and instructed him to stay put until she returned. Her 12-year-old son didn’t obey. When she returned, she found his lifeless body upstairs in a bedroom, far from where she had instructed him to stay.

Boys will be boys. They’re curious. They play rough. They wrestle; they tackle; they throw punches. And sometimes, if they never learn better, they grow up to be men who play rough.

All the players in the Michael Vick dogfighting debacle are boys in men’s bodies who like to play rough. What does a little boy who’s allowed to hit his dog with objects, sit on him, and pull his tail and ears become when he grows up? A dog lover?

Maybe, with the intervention of someone who knows better.

But what if no one intervenes? What if, instead, he becomes a man with so little respect for life that he would slam a dog’s body to the ground because it didn’t show enough fight?

On July 26, as Michael Vick read his statement declaring his innocence of all charges against him, his mother, Brenda Boddie, stood by his side. “I would like to say to my mom I’m sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times.” Today, a month later, he’s changed his tune, and his plea.

For all Michael Vick’s accomplishments, I doubt his mom is proud. None of those moms are proud. Their sons, one by one, have pleaded guilty to heinous crimes against animals. Somewhere along the line, the parent didn’t know better, the parent didn’t teach the child.

In the case of Maureen Faibish, the jury was hung. Her trial was declared a mistrial. If not for a jury that couldn’t agree on the degree of her responsibility, she might’ve gone to jail for a very long time. And if it weren’t for all the plea-bargaining and deal-making, the Michael Vick gang might have joined her.

Boys will be boys? Only if they don’t grow up. Only if no one teaches them better.


Thank you Dog trainer, Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!”


Even though we love them dearly, as even a member of the family…not long ago they were wild…please don’t forget that.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

~ by thebabyboomerqueen on October 27, 2007.

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