I deal with a lot of legal cases that involve dogs and members of the public, neighbours etc. and my best advice to avoid legal problems would be – “secure your dog”.
95% of the cases I deal with, in which we are trying to help a person with their dog wade through a legal nightmare of their dog being declared menacing or dangerous, or worse, are because people simply do not secure their dog.
The gate is left open, the door is left open, the dog is off leash or breaks a cheap leash and collar, jumps the fence, dog gets under the fence, pushes through the fence, jumps out of the car, is off leash in the front yard with the owner partially supervising a dog that they have little control over.
It is OK, my dog is not that bad.
This is something I hear a lot when giving preventative advice, but there are many elements that can super charge a dog’s behaviour, taking them from mildly aroused to super aggressive.
A dog that pulls on the leash or is behind a barrier such as a fence, window, gate, door etc. may be very frustrated as they cannot get any access.
This “frustration” can elevate arousal very quickly and your dog at higher level of arousal may do something you didn’t think he or she is capable of.
Dogs fueled by this level of frustration will be less likely to listen to owners, less likely to partake in rewards offered and may act so fast, it is done before you know it.
This is an easy fix though, if you have a dog that pulls on leash, retrain this and in the immediate time frame get a leash that will not break and attach it to a collar that will not break, slip over the dogs head or allow the dog to escape you in any way.
Are you sure your fences are secure? Colour bond fences for example are very easy to push through for a medium to large motivated dog. They can be made stronger by simply adding a screw or bolt to the top and bottom rails.
If you know your dog is aggressive and displaying aggression behind the fence, build a dog run. If your dog gets out and is declared dangerous this is mandatory anyway, might be better to do by choice than by law.
Many dogs will bite or attack other beings in what they deem to be their territory, they will have more drive to guard in these places than new locations, most times.
If your dog is in your front yard and people walk by, perhaps with a dog, if your dog is a little aggressive or over stimulated normally, this can be heightened in this location.
Again, this is a time in which your dog is less likely to listen to you.
If your dog barks at people when they come to your home, you may be happy that you have a good guard dog, but can you call this dog off?
Will your dog stop when you say so?
If the answer is no, this is not how true guard or protection dogs work. They follow direction of who and when and where to guard.
If the screen door is left ajar or a neighbour opens it to call out hello, is your dog free to race to the door and deal with it?
Many dogs have been declared dangerous, menacing or put to sleep because they went a little too far this time.
Prey drive / movement
Dogs are predators by design, all of them are, but some have more or less prey drive than others.
When frustrated or on their own territory a dog with a moderate level of prey drive can find themselves surging after prey due to the influence of the other two elements.
A kid riding a bike up and down the lane way next to your back yard, may be pushing your dog higher and higher until the dog jumps the fence, breaks through it or escapes another way.
I hear all the time how the dog is great with kids, but now they have bitten a child on a bike after getting through the fence.
If your dog is furiously running the fence line barking when something is going by, just because he or she hasn’t gotten out before doesn’t mean they won’t.
Take action to resolve this now. Secure your dog.
Dogs, like people behave differently under pressure, sometimes, people don’t understand what pressures a dog may be under until the dog snaps (goes over threshold) and bites someone or something.
It is very often described as coming without warning or for no reason.
I can tell you after working with dogs my whole life, it is an extreme rarity, and I mean extreme that the dog’s behaviour is not driven by something.
This video can help see the stages.
I hear “the dog was fine and then…”, my answer is “define, fine”.
Fine is a dog that is happy with the situation, not one that is barely tolerating it.
I see video after video of people letting their children ride dogs, grab their faces, take their food and toys, pull their ears, tail and fur and the dog is described as a “good dog”.
Next week the dog snaps and bites said child and the dog is now a “bad dog”.
The pressure is building through, lets call it what it is, punishment and this pushes the dog to find a solution to the problem.
Children need to be supervised with dogs all of the time and taught how to interact with dogs respectfully.
Another person takes your dog and tries to make your dog obey them, the dog has no history with this person, maybe the dog is nervous or frustrated at this person that is pushing your dog around.
If your dog bites this person you will be held responsible, so take that responsibility serious before the person pushes your dog around and don’t let it happen.
Why are dogs like this?
Because they are animals, and animals are driven by education and instinct, if your animal does not have enough education, he or she will be more instinctual.
Dogs need training, management, direction, protection and a responsible adult to provide these attributes for their dog, this is what advocating for your dog actually is.
I don’t want to see you and your dog for a temperament assessment to try and help council feel safe about your dog as he or she has done something terrible, but of course I will help any owner at whatever point they are at.
What I would rather is come to see me before we end up there, let’s put a strategy in place that prevents these events, and training or rehab to help your dog behave differently.
We are K9 PRO (active) not K9 reactive.
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