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We’ve all heard the news, right? 😬 Dog attacks and fatalities seem to be on the rise.
Medical data looking at human mortality rates between 2001 - 2021 averaged a death rate of 3.3 dog-related deaths per year, which meant less than 0.6 deaths per 10 million population. Unfortunately, there have been no 'official stats' announced for the year 2022 but the media have reported 9 fatalities (this doesn't include non-fatal dog bites). This indicates that dog attacks rose significantly last year. Breaking news this week is that a dog walker has been mauled by the dogs that were being walked. Though we don't know all the details so we can't speculate, the outcome never less is devastating.
Not only are dog attacks on people on the rise but also on our beloved dogs with a recent report of a man in Lowestoft losing his beloved pooch due to an attack that also left him with injuries.
The Mirror states there seem to be hotspots in the country for dog-related injuries according to NHS data which include: Knowsley, Middlesbrough, Wakefield, Redcar and Cleveland. Some assumptions can be made here potentially about population and dog ownership vs other areas.
Why is this on the rise?
We don't know, but we are potentially in the midst of a perfect storm due to puppy farmers breeding genetically poor dogs, the rise of dog ownership without regard to the dog's background, and the COVID effect (lack of owners taking up training).
What to look out for
If you’re worried about this rise in dog-related injuries here are some things you should know.
👉 Awareness: Dogs rarely bite or attack completely out of the blue, this is a myth*. Dogs use a crazy amount of communication to tell us how they feel. If we don't understand that communication it can be missed which can (and usually does) escalate the behaviour.
👉 Safety Any dog (and any animal for that matter) can bite. Never make the assumption that your dog won't bite because they love you or because they are the best dog ever.
👉 Precaution: Never, ever, ever leave a child of any age unsupervised with a dog no matter how bomb-proof you think your dog is
And if you’re in that position, there’s something you can do to make to try and change the situation 😏
What can you do about it?
What YOU can do
- Learn about proper dog communication (I help owners with this all the time)
- Train your dog to listen to the cue's the first time they are asked to a high standard so they can listen to you in a highly distracting environment
- Expose your dog gradually and positively to a range of different people, dogs and environments
- Avoid the use of quacks. Yes, you read that right, a quack is a trainer/behaviourist that IS NOT QUALIFIED. Not only can using a quack affect your dog's welfare it can have very damaging ramifications for the entire family group
- Don't ignore any warning signs, if your dog has displayed any concerning behaviour, ask for help.
- For any warning signs ALWAYS have a full vet check-up for pain or infection. Dogs are good at hiding health issues and only a veterinary surgeon can diagnose any medical issue.
🤷♀️ How can I find help and avoid a quack?
Unfortunately, the dog training and behaviour industry is unregulated. Professionals are only regulated if they choose to be.
👉 Speak to your veterinary surgeon for guidance if you are unsure
👉 Check out the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) for a behaviourist - members are strictly regulated
👉Check out the Animal Behaviour & Training Council (ABTC) for a registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist or Animal Training Instructor (depending on the help you need). It is the leading UK organisation for regulating the industry and the only body which has been given Council status by the UK Government. Professionals listed on the ABTC register have been assessed and accredited to ensure their skills and ethics meet the standard required to do work with animals.
If you have concerns or want to take preventative measures let me know get in touch via WhatsApp 💗
(*there is the odd exception but this usually relates to health conditions such as seizures or a brain tumour)
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