Royal photographs normally fall under significant scrutiny, and the adorable pictures of three year-old Prince George are no exception.
Warnings have been rightly issued on the dangers of the potential toxicity of ice creams to dogs, but the photo of the young prince offering his dog, Lupo, a lick of his ice cream also gives us a valuable lesson in the training of a family dog.
Think about your own dog, or one you know, what are the chances of that ice cream surviving long enough for a photo to be taken? Many dogs would have been unable to resist the temptation, yet Lupo is showing enormous self-control with such a tasty morsel in front of his nose.
A closer inspection of Lupo's expression shows how hard he is working on his impulse control - his eyes, the tongue flick and the tension in his face. He has clearly been trained to either refuse any food that is offered unless he is given permission or possibly he is obeying the 'leave' command of an adult off camera. Either way the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should be applauded for ensuring their dog has been trained to such a high standard to safeguard their children and visiting children.
Dogs are opportunists and do what they find rewarding, whether it's playing with a dog in the park, chewing on a toy or lying in the sunniest spot of the house. In a dog's world, young children in particular offer lots of opportunities for food treats whether it is something dropped on the floor, genuinely offered to them or held in a distracted way so that the dog can quickly steal a tasty prize.
The risk is a dog soon learns that any food in a child's hand is up for grabs. Not only does this present potential health risks for the child and dog, but your child or a visiting child could reach a stage where they want to take the food back from the dog or reprimand the dog either verbally or physically. Needless to say such actions could have disastrous consequences.
All dogs should be taught the 'leave' command, it could even save your dog's life. How many times have you seen your dog heading towards that delicious pile of horse poo or perhaps the remnants of a Chinese meal on the pavement? Recent stories of dogs being taken seriously ill or dying from the horse wormer in a pile of droppings or from something they swallowed quickly before the owner could get to them are heart-breaking.
Spending some time teaching your dog this simple command will be time well invested. Here is an example of the training technique from Victoria Stilwell.
It's a big responsibility not only being the Cambridge's family dog, but also being Lupo's owners. The photo is impressive evidence of parents taking their dog owning responsibilities very seriously.
For more advice and tips visit the NAWT website.
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