The TLDR message of this post is: There are inherent risks to owning pit bulls, yes, but there is absolutely no need to panic. We need to keep our heads screwed on straight or more lives will be lost, human and animal.
Where do I begin…
I have been listening to various interviews and reading articles covering the current frenzy around pit bulls, I’ve even been part of a few. On one hand, I am happy that the conversation is taking place; a lot of good information has been shared, and a lot of eyes and ears are being opened. However, there is a crucial element to this discourse that nobody is paying attention to, and I want to give it some airtime.
We need to talk about statistics.
Through all the back-and-forth debating on this topic, no one has mentioned that, statistically, you’re more likely to die from inhaling a balloon than being bitten by a dog (any dog). Your child is more likely to be injured by falling off a jungle gym. And you are more likely to be killed by a human member of your very own family.
But I’m not allowed to say that because it makes me sound like an uncaring arse with no respect for the recent tragedies. But that’s just it… the recent incidents were TRAGEDIES. Isolated incidents with multiple contributing factors that led to the perfect storm of horrifically unfortunate consequences.
In reality, dog bites are NOT a statistically significant cause of death; they are incredibly rare. And when something is incredibly rare, inciting public hysteria is irresponsible, negligent, and likely going to do significantly more harm than the pits themselves.
Statistics matter, they are the foundation of logic and science and we need to take them into account if we are going to make any sense of what is going on at the moment.
Since the proposed ban, I have heard these dogs being referred to as monsters, loaded AK 47s, evil, vicious, savage, violent, and murderous, mostly from the organisation that is calling for the ban. And honestly, they are none of these things. This type of sensationalist language is intentionally inflammatory and used to incite fear and outrage. This language is used by those who want to instigate an uprising, because it speaks to their narrative: “pit bulls are the enemy”.
First, I want to be clear on is that I do not believe that the Siswe Kupelo Foundation is acting maliciously or is purposefully instigating violence. I believe that they believe that they’re doing the right thing. They want to prevent future human death and they believe this is the best way to do it. Unfortunately, the ramifications of instilling fear in the nation have not been considered. And I believe that this fear has played a significant role in increasing the number of attacks. Dr Kupelo has been quoted here acknowledging that the number of attacks has increased since the petition. I know that correlation does not prove causation, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the correlation altogether.
I totally understand that when bad things happen, we almost instantly search for somewhere to direct blame. It helps us channel our feelings of frustration, helplessness, and regain a sense of control. It is understandable, but that doesn’t make it a great idea, especially at a national level.
So I want to be very clear: pit bulls are NOT the enemy, and you and your children are NOT in grave danger.
Ok, so let’s get into some details.
What is a pit bull?
Lots of articles are written on this, so if you want an in-depth explanation, go here or here. But for an overview, keep reading.
A very brief description of how pitties came to be is best understood in the context of other dogs. The different types of dogs we have today are a result of selective breeding to perform a particular function. For example, Border Collies herd flocks of sheep, Beagles follow scents, Labradors retrieve, etc. Pit bulls are a type of dog that was bred from English Bull Dogs in the 1800s for a sport called bull baiting. This was a spectator sport where the dogs would harass a bull until it collapsed from fatigue. When bull baiting was outlawed, these dogs were bred together with terriers so that they would be motivated to chase and kill rats in a pit in competition with another dog (hence the name: pit-bull-terrier). Then, handlers began pitting their dogs against each other and bred dogs who were the champions of the barbaric sport. In terms of physicality, temperament and behaviour, this resulted in a few things:
So, given the right exposure to a trigger, pit bulls have a natural predisposition to grab onto another dog or small animal, bite as hard as they can and shake until the animal dies. They also bond easily with people and are highly tolerant of humans, which makes them really great companions.
Why are pit bull attacks more harmful than other dogs?Firstly, pit attacks can be incredibly serious, but we need to remember that 1) all dogs have the potential to do harm and 2) it’s not that easy to identify a dog (even for professionals), so the police report often states that pit bulls are responsible with little to no verification. But, I’ll play devil’s advocate for the sake of transparency.
The majority of aggression we tend to see in behaviour cases is known as “defensive aggression”. This is when the dog is defending itself because they are fearful of something in the environment. Defensive aggression is a strategy to get the scary thing to go away. If the threat is approaching and doesn’t read the dog’s warning signals, the dog growls, snarls, snaps or bites. The dog then learns that this is the behaviour to use when a threat approaches because it’s the most efficient way to get the threat to back off.
In contrast, pit bull attacks potentially involve “predatory aggression”, which serves a different purpose. This type of aggression is the expression of what the dog was bred to do. And in a pit bull’s case, they were historically bred to grab, shake and kill other animals. So, to contrast defensive versus predatory aggression, a dog behaving defensively will stop attacking as soon as the threat retreats and they feel safe, whereas a dog expressing their predatory motor pattern is not going to back down because they are engaging in an intrinsically reinforcing behaviour.
If pit bulls are so dangerous, why do people have them?
Unfortunately, it’s no secret that crime rates are extremely high in South Africa, and we cannot reliably depend on law enforcement to come to our aid in the event of home invasions. Many South Africans rely on dogs as a form of protection. Pitties are ominous-looking dogs; they are strong, they have large heads and powerful jaws, so they have grown in their reputation as a popular deterrent for trespassers. This is ironic, due to their predisposition for human tolerance, but beliefs are notoriously more resistant to change than facts so they will continue to fulfil the role of “guard dog”.
Families also value pitties because they provide loving companionship. And, while this is to be expected from a human-tolerant dog, the unfortunate knock-on effect is complacency when it comes to children.
Going back to how various types of dogs differ; all dogs have a threshold for reactivity to stimuli in the environment. For example, border collies will stare at a sheep until it moves. With pit bulls, if there is a stimulus, such as, for example, a small furry animal that gets close enough or moves enough or squeaks enough, then that will trigger the expression of the dog’s innate predatory behaviour or “instinct” to bite and shake.
Small children are unpredictable and erratic in their movements and vocalizations, which can be very arousing for a dog (any dog). Children are also less likely to accurately read warning or arousal signals that the dog may be giving, such as standing very stiffly, staring, piloerection, or growling. Unfortunately, these arousing sounds and movements, combined with the inability to accurately interpret the dog’s behaviour can potentially push a pit above their threshold for reactivity, which causes them to respond with predatory aggression. This puts children at higher risk than adults. And the biggest tragedies lie in the fact that children are short, or specifically; dog-head-height. Kids are more likely to sustain injuries to the head or neck, which exponentially increases the risks for severe or fatal injury compared to an adult whose bites would generally be targeted towards the thighs, forearms, or abdomen. Children’s bones are softer, and they are physically weaker, leaving them completely unable to defend themselves in the (unlikely) event of an attack.
I want to be very clear that pits don’t have anything against children. They’re not being mean or malicious, they’re reacting instinctively. They aren’t evil or inherently bad, they merely are what they are. And we need to be honest about what they are and the inherent risks of being guardians to one of these dogs.
Guardians need to manage the space between their dogs and their children, and they need to practice active supervision. This goes for any dog, but it is particularly important for pit guardians purely from a practical standpoint. I have a masterclass available on safely raising children and dogs that explains the inherent risk of raising any dog in a home with a child here.
Is it “all how they are raised”?
While it’s very important to commit to lifelong training and socialisation, preferably using positive reinforcement with assistance from a qualified professional, it is equally if not more important to understand the limitations of training. If there is a dog that has the genetic predisposition to react to a particular trigger, the idea that there is a level to which you can train them to a point where they will never ever ever ever react in the presence of that trigger is naive and, in my opinion, irresponsible.
Instead, I believe we can prevent these tragedies by acknowledging the limitations and acting preventatively. So, in the same way that you would never allow a group of small children to play around an open pool, because there is ALWAYS a risk that they could drown (even if they can swim), we should not be leaving young children unsupervised in the presence of a dog that has the potential to inflict damage. Disclaimer: This recommendation goes for ALL dogs. A Dachshund may not have the jaw size or strength to kill a child, but a bite to the face can cause severe injuries, not to mention lifelong scarring, disfigurement, and emotional trauma.
It’s just not a risk worth taking. So, we take precautions like covering the pool, or putting the dog behind a secure baby gate. This ensures that dogs aren’t put into the position where they will potentially display behaviour that has severely tragic consequences.
Should we ban pit bulls?To speak to the currently proposed South African ban specifically, it’s very simple: it won’t work. It can’t be enforced. But even if it could, even if we all woke up tomorrow and all of the pit bulls were gone, another breed will be created to take its place. And we have no idea how human tolerant that breed will be…
It’s like banning anything really; we all know what happened when cigarettes were banned during lockdown; people didn’t immediately stop smoking, they just started getting cigarettes illegally and at a higher cost.
Last I checked, drugs, rape, and murder are also banned…
It’s well known in behavioural science and psychology that the threat of punishment is never going to outweigh motivation and reinforcement. So, unless the underlying reasons why children are mauled are addressed, understood, and resolved, the ban is futile at best and harmful at worst.
I have heard Dr Siswe Kupelo speak about the specific criteria regarding the ban and I agree with a few sentiments. First, I agree that owners should sterilise* their dogs (*other terms used: castrate, spay, neuter). Sterilisation should be the norm for all pet owners, not the exception. There are just too many unwanted and abandoned dogs, and sterilization goes a long way towards population and disease control. I also agree that legislation needs to be enforced. And I also agree that the owners of dogs who have inflicted harm should be held accountable.
On a practical level, however, I believe this call for a ban might be doing more harm than good. Since the ban was proposed, the fatality rate has increased instead of decreased. This feeds the idea the pits are monsters, but we need to consider the very real possibility that calling them monsters and treating them like monsters is actually turning them into monsters.
And I say this because I have to be mindful of the knock-on effect this petition has had on the welfare of these dogs. Innocent dogs. They are being relinquished and euthanised en masse. They are also being stabbed and stoned, set on fire and burned alive. They are being tortured and it needs to stop. Added to the dog tragedies, pit bull owners are being harassed and brutalised. This is NOT ok.
Instead of asking for help from qualified professionals, the ban has incited fear and panic from people who have no reason to fear or panic. Responsible owners are being victimised and dogs are paying the price. We desperately need pit owners to be empowered to get the assistance needed to determine if their dog is a danger to society, after which they can be advised what their realistic options are should that be the case.
Time for my soap box…
I would like to clear up some misunderstandings that have been circulating and hopefully put out the flames of some of the current panic that’s affecting the public, because it’s really difficult to think clearly and make good decisions in a state of panic or fear.
It is imperative for the public to understand that, statistically speaking, fatalities as a result of dog attacks are incredibly rare, despite the current attention that is being brought to this issue. This is essential to remember because, in the same way that dogs have instincts, humans have instincts too. And we are instinctively afraid of animals that have big teeth. So, when we hear of even one mauling, it elicits a strong emotional response that causes us to react from a state of fear, which I believe is happening on a societal level as we speak.
I’ve heard on multiple broadcasts that “South Africa has one of the highest rates of dog-bite fatalities in the world”. I haven’t been able to verify the source of that information, other than an incredibly ambiguous article written in 2017. This article is the definition of inflammatory and sensationalist journalism and the author should be ashamed of themselves. The article inflates the numbers of fatalities by grouping them with injuries, without even clarifying their severity. The vast majority of dog bites are no worse than an accidental injury sustained while cooking dinner, but the inflammatory language makes it sound like we’re on the verge of the next epidemic of uncontrollable zombie dogs.
And even if that article is accurate (which I don’t believe it is), it states that there were nine fatalities over the whole of 2016, and fewer than nine in the nine years prior to that. So that’s a total of 18 deaths in a period of nine years…
The official Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016 report includes no mention of fatalities as a result of dog bites. But for argument’s sake, let’s take the 2017 article at its word. If there were in fact 8 deaths in 2016, that is a whopping 0,015% of the 51,242 non-natural deaths in 2016. It is 0,0017% of the total number of deaths (456612). In the context of a population of 56,21 million people (the population in 2016), eight deaths are, very specifically, eight freak accidents; eight unbearable tragedies, eight anomalies. These are not norms, standards, or cause for concern anywhere near the mass hysteria that is currently being incited.
I look at those numbers and think, shew, that’s a tiny number of fatalities over a very long period of time compared to other causes of death. And then I look at the current situation and can’t help but think that the recent attacks, while absolutely tragic, are being sensationalised for a cause that is not helping the situation at all.
So I know that speaking about statistics may make me sound unsympathetic to the lives already lost. This is absolutely and entirely not the case. I empathise and sympathise with these families for the unbearable suffering that no one should ever have to endure. I believe that it is possible, if not necessary, to be able to empathise while simultaneously critically evaluating our current situation for what it is. I believe that if society continues to respond from a state of fear and panic, then we will not make good decisions and more lives will be lost, both human and dog. Instead, we need to remember that we are not in grave danger, we do have the opportunity to respond rationally.
My plea to the public: if you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, please ask for help--you don’t need to get rid of your dog. Please don’t take out your frustrations, grief, panic, or fear on pit bulls, or their owners. It’s not going to solve any problems and it just causes more unnecessary suffering. If we respond calmly and rationally, we have a significantly better chance of solving this incredibly complex and multifaceted problem.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Please contact me directly if you have any corrections to this article in order to prioritise the absence of misinformation that may reach the public and fuel the chaos.
One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is that ALL feelings are ok, acceptable, and encouraged. This is not to say that all behaviour is acceptable, but we’ll get to that a little later.
When children learn that expressing their emotions is healthy, that asking for help is appreciated, and that feeling unpleasant emotions is not “bad”, this can drastically improve mental health.
We have become conditioned that we should in some form or another, always be “happy”. Or at least content. Or regulated. Or excited. Or joyful. We are taught that unpleasant emotions (anger, fear, disgust, shame, guilt, etc.) should be avoided. But what has this ideal done for society? Depression levels are up, suicide is up, self-reports of personal satisfaction are down.
Why is this?
Because it’s not possible to be on the good side of the spectrum all the time.
We are emotional beings, and while we differ in terms of our experience, expression, and tolerance of unpleasant emotions, we should not be thinking of them as negative.
Firstly, unpleasant feelings are not bad. We create the association that they are bad by telling ourselves that they are bad! We avoid the feeling, and when they arise we immediately try to get back to Positivity-Land. Unfortunately, this mythical country does not exist because that’s not how our brains and chemistry are built, and for good reason: the emotion is there to tell us something! If we can shift into a space of welcoming the emotion, it will 1) pass sooner and 2) provide insight into our situation.
Secondly, if we accept that humans have a vast spectrum of feelings that provide opportunities through which we can thoroughly experience all that life offers, we can begin to move away from the mindset that we are feeling “the wrong things” or that we are in some way broken.
We are not broken.
We are human.
And so are our kids.
Every time a child cries, or shouts, or whines, or moan, or screams, or expresses an emotion in a manner that triggers us to react, it is an opportunity to teach them that feelings come and go and it’s hard but they will pass, which leads to healthy self-regulation. If we jump in to rescue every moment of sadness, or punish every angry outburst, we are communicating that feelings should be suppressed or avoided. Instead, holding space for a child through these periods of overwhelming feelings is the most effective way to support them in becoming mentally healthy adults.
Obviously, with big feelings comes big behaviours, and often these behaviours are disrespectful and socially unacceptable. So how do we make sure our children know that they are allowed to feel anything, and still provide effective discipline?
We don’t try to teach in the moment.
Children are only receptive to learning when they are regulated. When children (and adults!) are having a surge of emotions, the part of the brain that is responsible for logic and critical thinking is switched off. So even if we think we are being logical, we probably aren’t! And neither are our kids.
So first prize is to prepare children by setting boundaries while they are in a calm, connected state. This gives them an idea of what to expect in a given situation. Then, when they push that boundary (which they will—that’s their job!), we can respond with kind and firm limits. This models the behaviour that we expect from them; respect and calmness.
We also need to be upfront with the plan of action by telling our kids what we are going to do. So, when the child is calm and receptive, we can say, “I know that when you get angry, you begin to kick. I can’t let you kick me, so I am going to walk away from you. You can kick this ball/pillow/punching bag instead. I will return when you let me know that you are ready.”
We can also provide options for behaviours that are acceptable. Some ideas are:
Sad: Hugs, cuddling a stuffed pillow, spending time with a pet, listening to music, drawing, colouring, writing, being in nature, etc.
Angry: Screaming into pillows, hitting punching bags, kicking, throwing, or whacking balls, hitting a pole with a bat, ripping up paper, running as fast as possible, dancing, etc.
Anxious: Stuffed animal, favourite blanket, stress putty, finger painting, deep breaths, playing with water, etc.
If the child is too upset to engage in any of these behaviours, that’s ok too. This is where we hold space. We do not try to rush to “fix” the “bad” feeling. Using distractions, becoming the “cheerleader”, or punishing the behaviour communicates that the “bad” emotion must end as quickly as possible. If we gently accept the emotion, and wait for it to pass, we are communicating that there is nothing to be afraid of, that emotions are fleeting, and that we have faith in our children’s ability to handle what life throws at them.
Remember: we don’t need to make children feel bad to make them behave better!
Moving house is an incredibly stressful event. There’s a lot of planning and packing that must take place, and it requires a significant level of physical and emotional energy. And although the preparation causes significant stress and anxiety, our pets have no concept of what’s happening before, during, and after the move. The decision to move likely included a lot of thoughts and considerations and visits to the new location.
Many pets go missing when they’ve moved because to them, it all happens out of the blue. All of a sudden there are boxes everywhere, the routine has changed, the humans are walking back and forth around the home, stuff keeps disappearing into the boxes, furniture moves. And they don’t know why. Some pets handle change easily, others struggle. So, the best way to help your pets with this transition is to assume that they will struggle. Here are my top tips for a stress-free(ish) move:
Written by Jessica Prinsloo
Companion Animal Behaviourist
We all have things that we value. Dad’s favourite arm chair. The baby’s favourite rattle. Uncle Bob and his spare ribs. There are certain items that we just don’t want to share.
The higher the value of the item, the more likely we would be to fight for the right to keep it. If you were carrying a flower and a mugger told you to hand it over! It would be an easy decision. What about your cellphone? Would you put up a fight? How about an antique watch that your grandfather had as a boy? Your reaction would be determined by the value of the item.
The context also plays a role. Umbrellas are more valuable when it’s raining. Water is more valuable when you are thirsty, food more valuable when famished.
All this is to say that if your dog is showing aggression in response to another animal or human approaching their valued resources, this DOES NOT mean that your dog is being bad, rude, or dominant. This is a perfectly understandable and adaptive response.
That said, there are inherent risks to any kind of aggressive behaviour, so it’s best to prevent this behaviour from developing by teaching your dog to LOVE relinquishing valued items. This is done by:
Clicker training is a fun and simple method to train your dog anything from basic obedience to complex behaviour chains like filling the tumble dryer or fetching you a drink from the fridge. Clicker training allows dogs to use their brains to troubleshoot and problem solve. When you are using force-free methods, all training is trick training in a dog’s eyes. Whether you are teaching your dog to sit, down or jump through your arms, it’s a fun learning experience that burns a lot of mental energy and it builds your relationship.
A clicker is a small (usually plastic) box that fits into your hand and has a button or metal plate that is depressed to create a “click” sound. The click marks the behaviour that you want to capture from the dog. It’s essentially a way to tell your dog, “Yes! That’s what I wanted you to do!” while giving you time to deliver a reward.
There is nothing “special” about the click sound; it is merely a neutral tone. The magic happens when this tone is paired with a positive experience, such as eating a tasty treat or tugging a favourite toy.
The basic concept for teaching any behaviour is exactly the same:
*Dog performs behaviour > click > reward the behaviour*
It’s really that simple!
If you want to enrich your dog’s life, promote mental stimulation, encourage problem solving and create an unbreakable bond with your dog, start clicker training now! There are 100s of videos online to get you started. Here are a few of our favourite tricks:
Although the concept is simple, you can achieve more successful training sessions by following a few rules:
Eating faeces. An owner’s least and a dog’s most favourite behaviour!
Firstly, it actually is quite normal. As repulsive as it is to us, eating faeces played a role in how dogs evolved; when humans transitioned from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, human settlements arose. Our beloved canine’s ancestors began to approach these areas because dumps and latrines provided a stable source of food. So eating faeces is essentially part of their DNA. That said, it’s not a something that we want to encourage so it’s best to try to stop it.
There are a few reasons why your dog may engage in this behaviour:
Before trying to “train” the behaviour away, physical reasons need to be ruled out by a veterinarian. From the behavioural side, management and redirection are key. Adding nasty tastes to the faeces rarely works to stop the behaviour.
The first step is to clean up any faeces as soon as your dog eliminates. The second is to redirect to a more appropriate activity. There are tons of enrichment ideas on the Beyond The Bowl - Canine Enrichment group (
), which will help to elevate boredom and provide a more appropriate way for your dog to pass the time.
TOP TIP: If you make a huge fuss over your dog each time they go near a poo (i.e. No no no! Don’t eat that! Bad dog! Get back here!), this attention can reinforce the behaviour. Instead, calmly call your dog away and provide a brain game or chew toy (away from that area) to keep them busy while you clear away the mess.
All dogs have the potential to do damage when they bite. We need to teach them how to control the pressure of their bite by teaching them how to inhibit their bite. If your dog has good bite inhibition, the risk of injury is greatly reduced. Dogs learn this in a few stages:
When puppies are born they begin to suckle on their mom. Their teeth emerge at around 14 days and are very sharp. At this stage, if the put any pressure on the mom while suckling, she will move away, restricting access to her teat. The removal of milk teaches them to suckle gently.
As the puppies grow they play with their litter mates and spend a great deal of time mouthing each other. If they use too much pressure during play, the pup will immediately stop playing. The removal of play tells the puppy to be more gentle next time.
The last stage is for people to teach the puppy to mouth gently on human skin:
TOP TIP: If you have an adolescent or adult dog with a hard mouth, follow the same steps, but use heavy duty gloves to protect your hands (available from gardening centres and hardware stores). Hand feed meals one kibble at a time. If the dog tries to snatch, remove the food quickly for a few seconds. Only allow the dog to take a pellet when they are showing impulse control and are able to take gently.
The Adjustment period is essential when bringing a new cat or kitten into your home. Although cats are predators, they are also considered a prey species. This means they may be naturally wary in a new environment for fear of becoming another animal’s dinner. Therefore, their first response to threat is to run away and hide. Many cats go missing from new homes because they haven’t yet learnt where to return.
Your new kitty will transfer his scent onto new items through glands on his face and paws. This lets him know that the environment is safe. When he greets you with a rub (known as bunting) he’s saying, “You’re my human because you smell like me now.” How sweet!
There will naturally be a lot of excitement on Fido’s welcome to the family. It is beneficial to have everything you and he needs before he arrives to help make a smooth introduction to the household.
Secure the fences and gates of the property so that Fido can’t escape.
Restrict access to hazardous items and anything that he should not chew (e.g. swimming pool, poisonous plants, cables, remote controls, gardening equipment etc).
Research which breed types will fit with your family and lifestyle. For example a Collie type will not suit a family of couch potatoes, but a Great Dane might!
Contact a qualified positive reinforcement trainer in your area to arrange puppy classes or adult training sessions.
Address any behaviour concerns you have with current pets first; a new dog is very rarely a solution.
Familiarise yourself with the correct way to introduce dogs. Watch this video for help with stress free introductions: https://youtu.be/sZVJyE-KLS0
If possible, plan to bring Fido home over a weekend so that you can be at home to help him settle in.
TOP TIP: Provide Fido with:
It’s the big day! You’re super excited because you’ve been planning this for a while, but Fido doesn’t know what to expect so we need to set him up for success!
Avoid training at first, rather play pressure free games. Fido needs a few weeks to settle in first before he starts going for walks or attending any kind of training classes. While he’s getting settled, play games with him in your home or garden. This will reduce his stress and build your relationship!
This transition is exciting but can also be quite stressful, so don’t panic if he doesn’t eat right away or has a few tummy upsets. Consult your vet if you are concerned about the severity of symptoms.
If recently spayed/neutered Fido may be in some pain, which could make him sad, grumpy or even nippy. Be patient and gentle throughout the recovery period.
Dogs don’t arrive house trained—do not punish him for going in the “wrong” place if you have not spent time teaching where the right place is. Teach him where the right place is by taking him to this spot often and rewarding with delicious treats when he does his business in the designated toilet area.
Don’t take it personally if your new friend gives you the cold shoulder at first; give him time to learn that you are trustworthy.
For their safety, do not allow children to approach Fido, especially when he is sleeping/eating. Have them sit quietly with a nice treat and invite Fido to interact. He needs time to learn to trust little people too!
TOP TIP: Provide love and patience, don’t expect too much too soon. The rule of threes is quite easy to remember:
Dogs generally take at least: