The video shared by TikToker @shrinkingstephy was overlaid with a message that read: “Aren’t you afraid of your kids playing outside by themselves?” The clip showed three young children sitting on the grass next to what appeared to be a road.
The video pans to a German shepherd sitting on the grass opposite the kids, and another message overlaid on the screen reads: “NOPE.”
The video was shared with a caption that said: “My kids are good [dog emoji] #germanshepherd #protectiondog.”
As capable as the German shepherd in the latest video may have appeared, are dogs really protective of humans?
An April 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One looked at a pet dog’s ability to actively rescue distressed humans and whether they’d free their seemingly trapped owners from a large box. The study found that “dogs were as likely to release their distressed owner as to retrieve treats from inside the box, indicating that rescuing an owner may be a highly rewarding action for dogs.”
The study found that “rescuing the owner could not be attributed solely to social facilitation, stimulus enhancement, or social contact-seeking behavior.”
The study also said the “evidence of emotional contagion supports the hypothesis that rescuing the distressed owner was an empathetically-motivated prosocial behavior.”
The American Kennel Club (AKC), the world’s largest purebred dog registry, says dogs need to be taught how to be gentle, especially around babies.
“As wonderful and trained as your dog may be, and no matter how much your little one loves your pup, your dog should never be a stand-in babysitter or left alone with an infant,” according to a March 2018 article by the AKC.
The article said: “The key to establishing a dog’s protective and trustworthy behavior toward an infant is to begin early with frequent calm socialization and training.
“A dog responds to his humans’ verbal cues and body language with an infant. Thus, when owners display a calm, protective demeanor, the dog can learn to be sensitive and cautious,” the article said.
The viral video generated concern among TikTok users, with several wondering why the kids needed to play so dangerously close to a road.
In a comment that got 3,631 likes, user 76 said: “Awesome but by the road though???”
MaLena Lara said: “That’s great but why all the way down the road? Imagine someone losing control over their car.”
Lexxi Ville agreed, saying: “Your german shepherd might protect them from strangers but not from a car not paying attention to the road. Please have them closer to you.”
Lisa.G noted: “He [the dog] can’t stop them from running in road!”
Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment. The video has not been independently verified.
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