It’s been reported in recent years that dog attacks are on the rise in the U.K.. Publications from BBC to Telegraph have spoken of this issue being faced across the pond. Often, our situations tend to mirror each other, though this subject seems to have been barely touched in the press over here in the States. However, dog attacks are an issue we face as well.
While 2017 showed a decline in dog attacks from the previous year, the number hasn’t been under 6,000 since 2014. Why did the numbers rise so much? Why are they decreasing? What can we do? Well, let’s see what we can find out!
Why Is This Happening?
There are two issues to address here: “1) Why would a dog attack someone?” and “2) Why has there been a rise in these attacks?” Let’s start with the first question. There are a number of reasons a dog could be aggressive or attack someone. It’s important for you to know your pet’s history, because it may affect how they interact with other animals and people. When it comes to joggers, mail carriers, and the like, dogs react how they do due to their prey instinct catching on.
Most people additionally point to lack of reasonable dog training for this. Canine Journal recommends against aggressive punishment for dog aggression, and encourages showing the dog that you’re in charge by establishing yourself as the “alpha dog.”
However, that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of “why the increase?” While there doesn’t seem to be a specific answer to that question — as in, we don’t know exactly what’s different now than then — we do know that there are commonalities across dog biting instances. For instance, most dogs that are the perpetrators in the most extreme instances are male and have not been neutered.
The Human Side of the Equation
When it comes to handling this problem, some find it tempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater — that is, to lump all dogs or a certain breed of dogs into a bad light. We’ve found that a lot of damage can typically be avoided by paying attention to the human side of the equation, however.
For instance, Calgary significantly has decreased dog attacks by “forcing responsibility onto owners, educating the public on the importance of quickly dealing with problem dogs and ensuring pets are licensed.” In essence, they specifically did away with dog problems without blaming a specific breed of dog. On the contrary, dogs can be really beneficial to the human experience! They’re often helpful to people who are blind in their day-to-day navigation, for instance. And you probably know that they add comfort for those with emotional and mental distresses, and are even sometimes used in accessibility training.
Still, dogs are bound to be aggressive sometimes, and there will continually be bad owners. Postal Exam Review notes their belief that mail carriers may suffer attacks less frequently if they can be trained to fend dogs off. Those same people pointed out examples of USPS offices that have given their employees such training. It’s important to recognize that, on a widespread level, teaching people to be good pet owners is a more effective method of reducing dog attacks than restricting dog breeds.
So what do we do? This problem won’t go away overnight, but we know that the people involved are just as important (if not more so) than our animal friends that act out. Well, we need to teach people how to better train their dogs. If you’re raising a dog and want to raise it to be non-aggressive, here’s a few things you can do:
- Make sure your dog is exercising.
- Keep it healthy.
- Properly socialize it.
- Introduce new situations slowly (i.e. other dogs, people, new places).
- Establish yourself as the “pack leader” through the following means:
- Leveraging playtime
- Making sure you eat before they do
- Using a leash
- Not letting them sleep in your bed for a while
- Make sure toys come from you and don’t chase him when he runs off with a toy
On the other hand, it’s important to make sure people know how to react to aggressive dogs.
- Relax in the moment.
- Don’t run.
- Don’t yell at the dog.
- Don’t make eye contact with the dog.
- Talk to the dog in a deep calm voice.
- If you are attacked, hit the ground and cover your head and curl into a ball.
We can reduce dog attacks if we as people learn how to train and handle dogs better. What has your experience been in raising dogs to be non-aggressive? Let us know in the comments below!