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reactive dog advice

(5 Posts)
whothehellknows Thu 08-Jan-15 21:24:20

A woman I know rescued a dog from Dogs Trust several months ago. She is a first-time dog owner and adopted a dog with some medical and behavioural issues and very little training. A male sighthound, the dog had been in kennels for well over 2 years before adoption. He had been sent to DT after killing a cat, and was reactive to anything small and moving. On adoption, Dogs Trust instructed that he was to be walked on a lead and wearing a muzzle unless in his own secure garden.

I was with the woman today whilst she was walking the dog. He appeared much calmer and better trained, but I noticed he wasn't wearing a muzzle. While we talked about his progress, she told me about an incident where had "gone for" another dog who ran up to him suddenly. (Her dog was on the lead, strange dog wasn't) Although she was holding the lead, she was unable to control him because of his size and strength. She also mentioned other incidents where her dog had snapped at friend/family's dogs who were visiting her home, and killed a large bird in the garden.

I queried why he wasn't wearing the muzzle and the yellow Dogs Trust lead, and she replied that he "didn't like it".

I was a bit angry because even if she keeps her dog on a lead, a) she isn't strong or calm enough to control him, and b) she can't control other random dogs (cats, birds, etc.) that might approach.

I was trying to point out possible consequences, but I'm not really sure what they are. If her dog attacks and injures another animal would she still be liable for it's treatment if she's holding the lead? (The thought of the other animal being hurt is apparently not enough of a deterrent!)

Now that he's been adopted, would Dog's Trust be bothered that she isn't following instructions?

Maybe I should MYOB, but I've seen (and owned) dogs like this one before. Without responsible handling, I feel like it's a tragedy waiting to happen, and it won't necessarily be her dog that gets hurt.

What can I tell her?

Bubble2bubble Fri 09-Jan-15 13:16:55

Regardless of the legal consequences it's hard to reason with someone who is Ok with the idea of their dog hurting another one hmm. It's really not OK, and if the DT have given that advice it is probably for good reason.

No doubt the dog doesn't like the muzzle, but you can train them to it, which might make it easier, as in this vid:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1FABgZTFvHo

whothehellknows Fri 09-Jan-15 21:44:20

I'm sure the dog can be trained to a muzzle with a little effort. Equally, I'm sure that using the yellow lead / yellow ribbon advice from DT can help signal to other dog owners that her dog needs space. It just seems like laziness to me.

I just looked up the law on dogs injuring other dogs in the UK. Apparently her dog can be considered "dangerously out of control" if it injures someone's animal, and a court can sentence:
* a £20,000 fine
* 6 months in prison
* dog PTS
* lifelong ban on owning dogs.

Maybe that will give her an incentive to get a muzzle...

Scuttlebutter Fri 09-Jan-15 23:41:51

She might also consider that the RSPCA successfully prosecuted a greyhound owner under the Animal Welfare Act when the on lead greyhound attacked and killed a cat that jumped out of a hedge in front of the dog while being walked. The dog was not muzzled.

Sighthounds are known for having high prey drive - she is being foolish, selfish and lazy. I would strongly recommend that you as her friend, suggest you both attend one of Trevor Cooper's excellent Dog Law seminars that he regularly holds for dog owners. I went to one (ironically, hosted and organised by the Dogs Trust) several years ago, and it was a real eye opener about my legal responsibilities. Since then the law has changed further.

And of course, if she doesn't want to do any of that, she needs to make sure she has excellent third party legal cover.

whothehellknows Sat 10-Jan-15 12:34:19

Good point. Having done some more reading and knowing the dog's history, I'm inclined to think that the instructions given by Dog's Trust weren't just advice, but an actual legal requirement for this particular dog. I'm sure you have to sign some sort of agreement with them when you take responsibility for a dog, and I wonder if they also risk having him taken back by Dog's Trust.

Because she's young, I'm going to chat with her mother who may have a better understanding of their legal position.

It isn't that I have a problem with reactive or "dangerous" dogs, at all. I've had very difficult and reactive dogs in the past, and I know how much effort I went through to keep everyone safe. I just get upset when I think that other pets may be injured or that the dog itself could lose it's life because she isn't taking appropriate precautions.

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