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Dog Control

(30 Posts)
grandadofsix Mon 22-Jun-15 12:18:41

Following the death of a 3 week old baby at the teeth of a small terrier something more needs to be done by the Government to stop these tragic dog attacks of death and injuries to small children. Although of course absolutely necessary to arrest and charge the owner, it is not enough to put the criminal blame onto the owner this does nothing to control dogs because dogs react on instinct, a dog does not think. A dog attacks, the owner is arrested, the dog is destroyed but a CHILD IS DEAD.
The law must be that all dogs should be muzzled in public and muzzled in private if a small child is present, a loose dog indoors without a muzzle cannot be stopped by its owner from attacking. My daughter when a toddler was mauled on the face by a relative's Jack Russell, myself and other adults were close but had no chance of stopping this sudden and unprovoked vicious attack by the dog which appeared to be lying resting on a sofa.
It is the absolute responsibility for dog owners to ensure their dogs cannot attack defenceless children whether in the public or private environment.

Costacoffeeplease Mon 22-Jun-15 12:28:02

Totally unworkable - who is going to enforce this in private homes?

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 22-Jun-15 12:30:17

What bollocks.

Vivacia Mon 22-Jun-15 12:34:11

This is obviously a highly emotive subject, and rightly so, but your law would not be enforceable. Children are not hurt by dogs belonging to capable, responsible dog owners but by those who would ignore such laws.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 22-Jun-15 12:35:59

You've come to the wrong place sunshine. We are the responsible dog owners. And we still don't see the need to muzzle our dogs at all times. I'm sorry about your daughter but it's just not workable.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 22-Jun-15 12:46:22

While I think there should be more laws around dogs I think your proposal is totally unreasonable, but I can see with your traumatic experience why you would think this way.

There should be licensing, compulsory chipping, stricter laws and controls on breeding, stronger punishments on out of control dogs, laws on maximum number of dogs that can be walked together by one person etc.

There is already an option within private homes to keep dogs separate from children by putting them in another room, a law to enforce a muzzle in a private home is impractical.

mrslaughan Mon 22-Jun-15 13:07:12

talk about a nanny state - I am a responsible dog owner who has a very well socialised and behaved dog - who mixes well with children.
Having said that I would not hesitate to separate my dog from children within my house, if dog looked stressed or I could not rely on the behaviour of a child around him....and I will say I would expect their parent tho respect that, which you would be surprised how many don't (with this I am referring to when I am out in public)

I am REALLY sorry about what happened to your daughter - but I doubt there was absolutely no sign.

I don't think responsible dog owners and well socialised dogs should have to suffer ridiculous and unworkable rules because of people who don't pay enough attention to their animals.

My friends dog snapped at a child last week (in a semi public situation)- a toddler, didn't break the skin, gave the toddler a fright - but said toddler was harassing this dog repeatedly but had then got the message from the adults and let it alone....had moved onto something else. In a moments in attention by the adults involved said toddler picked the dog up by its tail.......really the problem is not with the dog in that situation.

I honestly think part of the problem is that everyone thinks the ideal family dog is a small dog - but these are often terrier breeds who are feisty by nature and then because of there size, are allowed to be treated as a soft toy pulled, poked and prodded....they must feel very vulnerable.

moosemama Mon 22-Jun-15 13:14:54

Have you considered how many millions of dogs there are in this country and how rare this sort of thing really is by comparison? Yes we've all seen the recent stories in the news, but that still doesn't make it common or frequent.

I'm afraid I don't know the details of the latest case, but from the other cases I have heard about over the past year, several involved dogs with a known history of aggression and some with a completely unknown background being left unsupervised with very young children and kept by people with very little knowledge of dog behaviour and communication. Of course every case has been absolutely tragic and all are bound to elicit a powerful response from the public. But draconian, unenforceable legislation is not the answer.

You can no more legislate against single, individual attacks by dogs than you can against humans that suddenly - and apparently for no reason - turn and attack, maim or kill and believe me, there are far more cases of that in the news every single day than there are incidents involving dogs. We have had cases of lone humans killing multiple people in unprovoked attacks in both Europe and America in the last few days (and that's without getting started on the innumerable horrors taking place on a daily basis all over the world in the name of religion, power and money and the alcohol and drug induced incidents that take place in cities across the country/world every weekend). I don't hear you calling for all human beings to be placed under Marshall Law and forced to remain in their own homes in case they might, possibly, one day launch an unprovoked attack on others.

More children are killed by adults, often the very people that should be there to love and protect them, every single year than dogs ever cause serious injury to, let alone kill. You need to take a step back and try to gain some perspective.

It was the press' aggressive and often inaccurate reporting of a handful of dog related incidents in the early 90s that led to the vilification of certain breeds and ultimately breed specific legislation being introduced in the UK. All that led to was the destruction of countless perfectly behaved family pets that were unfortunate enough to have been born the wrong shape/size, whilst simultaneously driving the type of people that deliberately raise large, aggressive status symbol dogs underground and making the dogs themselves even more of a status symbol among certain groups of people (generally being those that shouldn't own a dog at all, let alone a large, powerful one). It also led to new crosses being bred, between dogs that simply should never be crossed, let alone kept in a domestic environment, especially when they are being raised by people that don't bother to educate themselves about how to look after dogs properly and train them without using fear or brutality.

It's people that are the problem, not dogs. The vast majority of dogs in the uk are owned by responsible, loving owners. What is needed is greater education regarding understanding dogs, their behaviour and communication skills and how to socialise and train them positively to produce well rounded, sociable pets. Dogs have been part of our lives for thousands of years, but we have reached a point in our so-called evolution where we now expect them to live in a wholly artificial environment and fit in with our increasingly frantic and stressful lives. Education about the treatment of animals, including/especially dogs and other pets should be part of the national curriculum, that way every single child would at least learn the basics of how to behave appropriately around dogs and also what it actually means to take on the very real responsibility of sharing your life with one.

Knee-jerk legislation is never going to be the answer. Education and a shift in attitude from dogs being 'possessions' to living, thinking, feeling creatures, that are deserving of our respect and support is what's needed.

In addition, legislation to ensure dogs are no longer bred and raised on puppy farms or by unscrupulous back-yard-breeders, where they are raised in an environment devoid of the right early socialisation and learning they need to become well rounded, sociable adults would go a long way towards eliminating many of the dogs that are bought without a thought for their background and then have their problems exacerbated when they go to homes that lack the knowledge and understanding they need to train and look after them, let alone help them get over their poor starts in life.

I would be willing to bet a substantial amount of money that none of the people sitting nearby when the JR bit your daughter had any meaningful knowledge of dog behaviour and communication and had missed multiple warning signs that the dog was stressed and upset in the company of toddlers. The dog will have given you lots of signs that they were unhappy, but will not have been 'heard' and therefore felt it had no choice but to escalate the situation. Tragic for everyone involved, both human and canine, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the adults who put both the dog and child in that situation. Dogs do not only 'act on instinct' they do 'think' they have emotions, they feel fear, panic and stress just like we do and in all likelihood, the the dog in the situation you have described is likely to have done everything it could to try and communicate it's fear/stress to the humans around it before it chose to use it's 'last resort' of actually biting.

Your post, deliberately placed in the Doghouse, populated solely by dog-lovers, was clearly intended to stir up a fight. However I think you'll find the people on here are more than educated about the importance of understanding our dogs and making sure our dogs and children are never left alone together - you are preaching to the converted in that respect and I doubt you will find anyone here to back your ridiculous ideas on totally unrealistic and unenforceable anti-dog legislation.

GobblersKnob Mon 22-Jun-15 13:17:44

My ds has been bitten twice by a dog, once requiring plastic surgery, once just a very nasty bite, both to his face, one in a private home, one in a public park.

I don't think all dogs should be muzzled in either of these places (or anywhere else), my own dogs certainly aren't and I would hate them to be.

I don't know what the answer is beyond education. education, education, but I do know that children being killed by a dog is an incredibly rare (but hugely media sensationalized) event, 17 children in the last 10 years. Obviously every single one is one too many, but we do not prevent children travelling in cars or being with their parents, two things that statistically are far more likely to cause their deaths.

ClaimedByMe Mon 22-Jun-15 13:25:09

What kind of life would a dog have if it was muzzled 24/7 and what about their claws?

I agree with education education education

GobblersKnob Mon 22-Jun-15 13:28:05

Said far more eloquently by moose than me smile

Only thing I would refute though moose is that I am very dog savvy as is ds, (bless him) when he was bitten in the park it was by an off lead dog who was standing near to his owner while the owner any myself chatted, ds asked the owner if he could stroke the dog, the owner agreed and said he loved children ds extended a hand slowly (but was a good four foot away from the dog at that point), dog appeared to be relaxed up to this point, (no stiffening, no whale eye, no yawning, lip licking, not turning away. But then it didn't have anything to be not relaxed about, it was off the lead, nothing was happening, quiet park, no noises, nothing), ds extended his hand very slightly and softly said 'hello boy' (taught to do this as a dog will approach if the dog wishes rather than impose himself on the dog), the dog flew (no exaggeration) at ds'd face and split his nose in two.

So even with a very good understanding of dog communication, things can still go wrong sad

Despite all that I still don't think any kind of draconian measures would be of any help though, in the same way I don't instantly think 'ban cars' after every motorway pile-up. Though tbh I would prefer that to a ban on dogs wink

And ds still (carefully) greets strange dogs......

SonceyD0g Mon 22-Jun-15 13:28:40

More children are killed by their parents than by their dogs.

MehsMum Mon 22-Jun-15 13:30:49

I have four DC. We have dogs, and they see lots of dogs regularly. Only once has a dog ever drawn blood: when DD was waving a stick around to throw for our larger dog (which she knew was a stupid thing to do), and he jumped for it and caught her finger completely by mistake. He pulled back immediately.

So out of something like 50 child-years of contact with one and later 2 dogs on a daily basis, plus all the other dogs the DC have dealt with: one case of broken skin, and that during a game (which, as I said, DD should not have been playing...).

We need to keep things in perspective, and educate parents and children: if a dog snarls at a child or shows other signs of stress, you separate them AND, if the child is old enough, you explain to the child what they're seeing ('You see when he puts his ears back... it means he's not very happy... I think we should put him in the kitchen because he just wants to be quiet...') I did this when a toddler, with his elder brother watching, pulled our small dog's whiskers and she pulled her head back and snarled, very softly.

LeChien Mon 22-Jun-15 13:33:07

I was bitten as a child on the lip, luckily not badly. It wasn't our dog, we were visiting friends.
What would have prevented it:
Keeping the dog in another room as the visitors arrived, unfamiliar people filling up a relatively small place.
Not allowing me to stroke or play with the dog unattended. I was very young at the time.
Recognising a dog's subtle stress signals.

Very few people will take the time to educate themselves about dogs, beyond the day to day husbandry (and plenty not even that).
Everyone who is interested in getting a dog should have information easily available (and not relying on key words to manage to find the right website). The information should be added to any pet website, whether it's preloved, gumtree, dog food sites, etc.
Vets need to stop spouting crap about dominance.

These rare attacks are entirely preventable, and are sadly down to ignorant ownership.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 22-Jun-15 13:53:35

Unfortunately most of these incidents happen in homes where any legislation would be ignored.
Compulsory chipping is coming next year, but the fine is less than for dog fouling.

moosemama Mon 22-Jun-15 13:55:08

Gobbler yes, you're right, my apologies. I should have said that it's rare, but not unheard of for dogs to react without warning. The cases that do have usually come about as a result of the dog having it's natural warning signals repeatedly ignored or even surpressed (eg being chastised for growling). There are dogs that learn that there's no point in giving a warning and will just react without first giving any obvious warning signs, but they are in the minority.

GobblersKnob Mon 22-Jun-15 14:06:32

It is staggeringly rare I think moose, ds was supremely unlucky, it is a testament to the dogs (as a species) general gregarious, trusting, accepting, happy go lucky nature, that they put up with such an astonishing barrage of crap from people and react so rarely.

I remember posting on here after ds was bitten, asking the right way to report it, (not wanting the dog to be destroyed, but wanting the owner to make sure it never happened again), and remarking that I was pleased that ds had coped really well, I was flamed to shit grin dog detesting mn at it's finest wink

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 22-Jun-15 20:40:11

Did we scare the Op off? confused

grandadofsix Tue 23-Jun-15 12:08:58

Thanks for all your responses. To MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig I say muzzles are the dogs bollocks. To moosemama I can absolutely assure you the JR appeared totally relaxed lying on the sofa and as my daughter walked by, without any warning at all, it just leaped and bit her. To WeAll Have Wings of course I cannot agree with "unreasonable" but you were the intelligent one with responsible and sensible suggestions, thank you.
A friend of ours once came out with a classic, she wouldn't muzzle her dog because "it would stop her dog being able to sniff around other dogs' bits".
Fortunately there are some responsible owners out there who I have seen walking their muzzled dogs. Check on the internet, muzzles are not unkind for dogs and and have no adverse affect.
I never stop being amazed and saddened by people who put their dogs before children, it's always the child's fault, as if a toddler has any idea that it might be upsetting a dog and how a dog might respond.
But as some of you indicated, dog owners can rest easy that a child mauled and killed by a dog is a small statistic......until it's their child.

tabulahrasa Tue 23-Jun-15 12:24:57

Actually muzzles do have adverse effects...they massively impact on playing and other natural behaviours, they make training much much harder.

They make facial expressions useless which means that it's really hard to see see some of their stress signals, the very stress signals that are needed to tell when a dog is uncomfortable.

They also don't make a dog who wants to bite safe, they inhibit teeth from connecting, but being muzzle punched can still injure adults...nevermind children or other dogs, broken ribs are pretty common in dog fights where one is muzzled.

You've also got the issue that the biggest bonus a muzzle has is that there's a very obvious visual warning from some distance away that a dog may react aggressively - if every dog had a muzzle on you lose that and people become complacent about safety, which is exactly why children are bitten now.

I muzzle my dog, because he needs to be...I'd never be willing to muzzle a dog who didn't need to be.

tea4two4three Tue 23-Jun-15 12:27:11

I have a dog and I have a toddler. Luckily the dog is the most chilled out non-aggressive little soul and generally the toddler ignores him anyway. Still, they do not get left alone together. I trust the dog. I don't trust the toddler. Very rarely does a well behaved dog attack without provocation. My sisters dog used to visit often, he's a terrier and very sweet. Unfortunately he does react when the toddler is in his face and the reaction excited the child leading him to do it more. No matter how many times we tell the child to stop, he doesn't. What happens next? Is it the dogs fault? How many people do you think get sick of telling the child no and eventually take the attitude of you'll learn if it bites you. We are responsible dog owners, my sisters dog is not allowed over anymore, at least until the toddler is older and understands cues given by the dog to leave it alone.
In the case you are speaking off we don't know why the dog attacked a small baby, I would expect possibly down to it's crying and flailing or even jealousy, but also because it was likely left alone with the dog. Whatever happened it was tragic and my heart aches for that family. I'm also sorry to hear about your granddaughter and hope it hasn't scared her.
Muzzling all dogs though isn't the answer. Not only is is unenforceable but in most cases unnecessary and leads to great stress in the animal. I'd hope people lea from such cases an take greater responsibility but even then it's not always possible or practical. Sad case.

LeChien Tue 23-Jun-15 12:58:58

Muzzling a dog would lead to more lazy ownership, and possibly more minor accidents - a dog can still cause damage even with a muzzle on. I had several chickens killed by a muzzled dog, a small child could still be seriously injured, but owners would be more likely to leave a child and dog unattended because the dog had a muzzle on.

SinclairSpectrum Tue 23-Jun-15 13:00:32

You do not know the circumstances of the death of the baby. Sadly I do.
The blame lies firmly with the person who was rightly arrested.
The events were so shocking that quite frankly the level of neglect involved would have put the child at risk whether a dog was there or not.

tabulahrasa Tue 23-Jun-15 13:27:21

I don't know the circumstances at all, but the arrest was a bit unusual, so I assumed there was more going on than just a tragic accident.

moosemama Tue 23-Jun-15 16:42:19

Fwiw, I happen to agree with all Weallhavewings suggestions for dog related legislation. There isn't enough being done to ensure the welfare of dogs in the UK and there's a huge correlation between poor breeding and unsuitable homes with potential incidents. I did actually say that education and legislation to stop the breeding of dogs by puppy farms and back-yard-breeders would go a long way towards helping, by eliminating poorly bred, undersocialised dogs being churned out for a fast buck by people that don't give a damn about either the dogs themselves or the families they end up with.

Dog ownership is too easy and far too easy-come, easy-go in this country. Dogs are treated like toys, status symbols, fashion accessories and pieces of property instead of being respected, understood and treated appropriately. Weallhavewings' suggestions would be a good start towards getting things back in balance, but sadly the demise of the domestic dog is commensurate with the decline in people's attitude towards personal responsibility and accountability and respecting and caring for others.

I also agree with what others have said regarding muzzling leading to complacency by a large proportion of owners and there are numerous ways to abuse muzzles to the detriment of both the mental and physical welfare of the dog. I have witnessed this happen first-hand many times.

Many, many years ago I had a rescue dog that was terrified of both people and other dogs. He did have a muzzle, but it was used in conjunction with extremely careful management and he was never put in a situation where he could have injured anyone. We had a huge kennel and run built in the garden so that he had a secure space whenever visitors came to our house and he was also put out there if someone came to the door. He wore his muzzle on walks, but was walked well off the beaten track, at times when we rarely, if ever met anyone else and definitely wouldn't have come across any children. The muzzle was just one tool in a very carefully planned and co-ordinated system of managing his fear. He was a big, powerful lad, extremely well trained and a really gently, absolute sweetheart to his family (which at the time didn't include any children), but he was genuinely terrified of the world, thanks to being brought into this worlds by a vile puppy farmer. We had him 7 years and he never had the chance to even frighten anyone, let-alone do them any physical harm, because we made sure he was never put in that position.

As for the JRT you mentioned. You may have been very unlucky and it was one of the dogs I mentioned upthread that have had their natural instincts to warn before acting surpressed (or beaten out of them eg a slap every time they growled when they were young), but it's more likely that the dog had been giving off plenty of signals that were simply misread and over-looked. The signs are so subtle that they can easily be missed if you don't know what you're looking at - but if you intend to keep dogs, then you have a moral responsibility to learn to understand their body language for both their benefit and everyone else's. You only have to have a quick look at the thousands of photos of dogs with toddlers/babies that are shared on Facebook etc on a daily basis to see how easily people misread their dogs. They're tagged as adorable, cute etc, when anyone that knows dogs can see they are in fact stressed/anxious/fearful and clearly giving off warning signals. This is absolutely not a criticism of you or anyone else that was there, just a fact, that as a general rule people are very poor at reading the behaviour and communication signals of dogs. Even people that have kept dogs all their lives may not have a clue, unless they've actually gone to the bother of keeping up with research and training methods and worked hard to learn how best to communicate with their dogs.

I would never blame the toddler in a situation where they have ended up being bitten - I would however blame the parents/adults that put both dog and toddler in the situation where the toddler, who obviously wouldn't understand any better, ended up stressing or frightening the dog to the point where it snapped. Some dogs find toddlers very scary. They wobble when they walk, fall over a lot, tread on tails, change direction unexpectedly and make all sorts of strange noises. They are unpredictable and scary to many dogs without them ever doing anything specifically to the dog and that's why it's so important to learn understand dog's communication signals and make sure the dog is never put in a position where it feels it needs to snap to make itself understood.

I would also blame the parents of a child that runs haring up to a strange dog, shoves their face in it's face, grabs it around the neck for a 'hug' or any number of inappropriate interactions that many dogs are bound to find scary or intimidating. It's the parent's responsibility to teach children how to behave appropriately and treat dogs with respect. Sadly many parents neither bother nor intervene when they see their children behaving inappropriately around dogs. That's one of the reasons I feel it should be a compulsory subject in schools.

Finally, none of us 'rests easy' regarding the tragic loss of a child's life. Some of us, however, have spent years learning to understand, train and read dogs and take the time and trouble to use these skills, plus careful management to make sure our own dogs and children are never put in that situation. We are also able to understand that tragedies take place every single day, in thousands of ways and imposing draconian, unenforceable legislation is rarely the solution.

Sinclair I am so sorry to hear that. As I said up thread, in many - not all - but probably the majority of similar cases, it usually comes out that either the dog has a known history that has been ignored or the conditions in the home were a long way from ideal for either the dog, the child or both. Such an awful tragedy for all concerned. sad

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