Why Retractable Leads Should Never Be Used

Why You Should Never Use Retractable Leads Retractable leads are a menace. At best, they teach dogs to pull. At worst your dog could end up like this – and this dog was lucky to be found.

The argument that they give handlers control was obviously not the case here as the dog went missing trailing the lead. It got caught in hedgerow and it was only by hiring a company with a drone that the dog was found. He was 10kg lighter and had been eating twigs.

Dogs and people can be tanged easily and, when combined with owners not paying attention to their dogs can cause serious injuries.

Dogs should either be on a short lead, on a long line or off lead if safe and under control. Good lead training is essential for dogs and handlers and means that there will never be a need for an extendable lead.

Wales Takes The Lead


Wales Takes the lead
Although the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is national legislation and is not devolved, Wales and Scotland are able to consider implementing measures to promote responsible dog ownership.

Accordingly, the Welsh Government has a web page with advice on responsible dog ownership and has called a summit comprising representatives from local government, the police, public health, third sector organisations and canine welfare and public safety campaigns.

This is so much better than the knee-jerk response implementing a ban on XL Bullies from the UK government. Such a response makes it easy to rabble rouse (surely with an eye to forthcoming elections) but does nothing to resolve a grave issue from recurring time and time again. BSL is also expensive and has resulted in the compulsory euthanasia of thousands of dogs that have never been a problem and were never going to be, not least those condemned under the vague designation of being a “pitbull”.

EFRA has released a report on Breed Specific Legislation recommending a focus on prevention through education and early intervention including training courses for dog owners who commit low to mid-level offences similar to the speed awareness courses for drivers.

As with the broken window theory, dealing with this at the lower levels of offences tackles the roots of the problem. It won’t prevent every incident but it may save a lot of dogs and owners from heartbreak.

Where Wales has taken a lead, we should follow.

Shocking Shame


Electric kickback
At last legislation is due to come into force on February 1st, 2024 to ban shock collars in England.

However, there is a strong lobby that regards shock collars as the only way to prevent livestock worrying and members of the House of Lords who happily boast of using them on their companion dogs. It is 23 years since they were banned in Wales, a country with 11 million sheep and just 3.1 million people.

There is plenty of research that shows that severe punishment – and we are talking about electrocution after all – does not work and research that shows that shock collars cannot and do not deliver a reliable measured shock. It is illegal to electrocute children, why are dogs any different?

We cannot take the passing of this legislation for granted, Lobby your MP and write to DEFRA in support.

 

Shop Fitting

Shop Fitting It can be challenging shopping when one has a dog, especially if one lives alone. Dogs should never be left alone outside and many shops – and even shopping centres – ban dogs.

Often this is due to misunderstanding the law – dogs are only legally prohibited from food preparation areas. That said, it is frequently difficult to take dogs into banks, post offices and shops where well-behaved dogs should not be a problem.

Some people don’t like dogs; I don’t like children, but I still have to put up with them, and they are often exhibit far worse behaviour than my dog.

So good news, then that Dalton Park shopping centre in County Durham not only allows dogs but facilitates owners. Each entrance provides water, poo bags and dog waste bins and the centre provides canine first aid facilities. Dog-friendly shops display a sticker in their window and there happen to be 55 acres of parkland attached.

Hopefully, where Durham leads, others will follow. After all, with 26% of the population owning a dog, it makes good business sense too.

How To Get Free Dog

How to get a free dog…and a free go to jail card.

It behoves owners to take suitable precautions to keep their dogs safe when they are out, not least because of the number of dog thefts across the UK.

However, there is a new twist on this perennially increasing crime thanks to Tik Tok. So-called prank videos are used to goad children into behaviour that is often anti-social and, in this case illegal.

An eighteen year old filmed himself snatching an elderly women’s dog and running off with it, posting the video with the caption How to get a free dog.

Although he gave the dog back, it can only be imagined how distressing this must have been for owner and dog. Fortunately, he was arrested for causing a public nuisance.

Far too many owners fail to train good recall and fail to pay attention to their dogs when out, even, as I discovered to my cost, when their dog lays into another dog. In that case, the owner was far too interested in her telephone call than in getting her dog away after it had bitten my puppy. When combined with the shocking number of dogs off lead on roads, it’s hardly surprising that dogs are vulnerable to such stupidity and downright criminality.

Electric Kickback


Electric kickback
Stop Press: The government has announced that it will at last introduce a complete ban on shock collars in England from February 1st, 2024. About time too.

The Government has been too preoccupied with its own internal wranglings to prioritise the ambitious raft of animal welfare legislation into effect, having announced in 2022 that it would be put on hold.

This includes the proposed ban on shock collars, even though the Scottish government put guidance in place advising against their use in 2018. Whilst this is still too weak, it is better than the nothing that pertains to England and Wales.

 

Now a group of dog boarders have petitioned DEFRA to oppose the ban, claiming that it puts their livelihoods at risk. It is easy to react in an emotional way because there is no doubt that electrocuting animals in the name of training is unethical.

More importantly such training, it is ineffective and, in spite of protestations to the contrary, there is a great deal of good scientific research available to prove it. At best, punishment only stops the behaviour at the time that the behaviour is occurring and the dog does not learn an alternative behaviour – indeed cannot learn an alternative behaviour when under stress and suffering pain.

There is no doubt that more needs to be done to train dogs not to harass wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and it is imperative that the results of any training are as effective as possible as well as ethical.

DEFRA needs to throw this complaint out and more needs to be done to educate people in effective training.

Horse And Hound – A Nightmare?

Horse and hound - a nightmare? Horses and dogs may seem to be a natural match but not always.

There are now far too many irresponsible dog owners who do not bother to undertake any training and make no effort to control their dog. That is of course, assuming that they are in the same place as their dog in the first place.

The incident shown in this image fortunately didn’t result in any injuries but it was obviously very frightening and was described as being “nine minutes of absolute hell”. The rider concerned was nervous and trying out the horse for the first time. What a dreadful start to their partnership.

A further incident that took place in Victoria Park today did not have such a happy outcome. The police horse did remarkably well not to injure the dog or unseat his rider but did not come off so lightly himself. The horse will be off duty at tax payers’ expense and may require re-training and the police officer no doubt will have his confidence dented too.

Owners are happy to pay a fortune for their dog, stock up on expensive accoutrements, pay other people to walk and groom them but are often far less willing to stump up for a qualified, professional trainer or even invest a few pounds in a long line.

Whilst it’s understandable that the police officer shouted, yelling at the dog and poking it with a tree branch were not calculated to save the day. It was lucky that the man who grabbed the dog had the presence of mind to finally intervene before anything even worse could happen.

Dartmoor Dog Restrictions Proposed

dog staring at pocket Dartmoor National Park Authority members are voting on proposals to restrict dogs to lead-only walking between March 1st and July 31st to protect livestock with young and ground-nesting birds. There would also be a limit of six dogs per person at any one time. Rangers can require owners to keep dogs in lead at any time if they are deemed to be out of control.

It is irresponsible owners who have led to restrictions being imposed and it had become a necessity for farmers to protect their livelihoods, never mind for the welfare of stock and wildlife. A farmer lost 37 ewes earlier this year in a dog attack, at a financial cost to him of £4,500, never mind the emotional distress.

There were 108 cases of dog attacks on stock in 2021 and 78 in 2020 when the country was in lockdown. Enough is enough.

All dogs have the potential for prey drive, regardless of their demeanour at home. Too few owners train their dogs in even the basics and too many think that the countryside is their playground by right.

Ewes and cattle can abort when distressed, never mind the risk from diseases picked up from canine faeces. Farmers are having a tough enough time as it is without irresponsible dog owners adding to it, so the irresponsible cohort will have to suffer restrictions due to their actions.

A Dog In Wolf’s Clothing

A Dog In Wolf's Clothing These images were captured in South Hams this week where farmer
Rich Rossiter asked “How many more sheep and lambs need to be chased off cliffs, into roads, pushed into cattle grids and bitten…”

He may well ask. It’s not the only recent attack in the area, certainly not a rare occurrence across the country and the figures are not heading in the right direction. Livestock worth an estimated £1.3m were attacked by dogs in 2020, representing an increase of more than 10% on 2019.

Research undertaken by the National Farmers Union underlines some of the reasons why this is getting worse. A survey of 1,200 dog owners found that 88% of respondents walk their dog in the countryside of which 64% allow their dog off lead and 50% admit to poor recall. Only 40% accepted that their dog could harm livestock.

Ewes are in lamb all across the country, with some farms starting lambing this month. Even if a dog does not make contact, those lambs could abort, causing them distress and the farmer huge disruption and losses.

Meanwhile New Forest Commoner Tom Gould lost 18 calves three days ago in 38 cattle due to neospora which is carried in canine faeces.

The message isn’t complex. Pick up waste and put your dog on the lead in the countryside: it’s not your playground, it’s peoples’ homes and supports their livelihoods. Then go and get training.

Wanted Alive Or Dead – Red Squirrels

Red squirrel There are no doubt many of us who have dogs who might be interested in the job of squirrel hunter, but they have been pipped to the post by a spaniel called Rufus.

Humans have enlisted the help of dog’s scenting ability in conservation for many years and now, a spaniel in the six counties of northern Ireland is searching for red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). In spite of their name, native red squirrels are no longer common in the UK, having been ousted by the American grey (Sciurus carolinensis) which was introduced as an exotic in the 19thC. Grey squirrels are not affected by the squirrelpox virus that is fatal to the red squirrel and they also outcompete the red squirrels for food, having a broader palate.

Rufus locates squirrels so that they can be examined for signs of pox, enabling the disease to be tracked. A 2018 study showed that improvements in pine marten populations have assisted the red squirrel population, not least because grey squirrels form part of the pine marten diet.

A few more dogs like Rufus in addition to a managed marten population could help the return of a much loved native breed.