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.
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.
Concerns are mounting over the rising number of people in the UK who are obliged to rent rather than buy a home. This can lead to constant moves and extreme difficulty in finding a new home, often at short notice, which is exacerbated for people who own an animal.
The long-overdue Renters (Reform) Bill 2023 includes clauses that obliges landlords to consider a request to keep a companion animal which they must not “reasonably refuse”. An initial response to a request must be supplied in writing “on or before the 42nd day after the date of the request” and there are specified periods for response on both sides where further information is required before a tenancy agreement can be made and where the tenancy is a sub-let. The landlord may (and probably will) oblige the tenant to take out insurance against any damage.
There will no doubt be landlords who will do everything possible to exploit potential loopholes to prevent renters from keeping animals and, of course, it will take a while before challenges to refusals and other issues can be tested in case law, a luxury which many renters may not afford to be able to pursue.
However, it is an important step forward in enshrining the right to live with a companion animal in rented accommodation.
Of course, it behoves the owner to train their animal to ensure that damage and nuisance is less likely to occur which, in and of itself, will be of benefit to society.
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.
The pluses must outweigh the minuses otherwise we wouldn’t do it again and again, however much we feel that it would be impossible to get another dog after a beloved dog has died.
It was an idyllic morning when I took my puppy out for a walk this morning. Blue sky and full sun after days of rain and cloud and not too warm – perfect. I passed a woman on her mobile telephone, her dog’s eyes fixed somewhat worriedly on mine and I overheard her say “I’m only walking the dog – so boring”. She hadn’t even noticed that we were there, never mind that her dog was initially hesitant and she obviously had no interest in interacting with her dog.
We did in fact get talking as she reminded me that we had met on another occasion when it wasn’t appropriate for our dogs to interact. She admitted, although I had not solicited it, that she had only really bothered giving her dog toys when she was puppy and that she didn’t really play with her, although, she explained that she gave her lots of cuddles. It was abundantly clear that, after some polite conversation with me, she couldn’t wait to get back on her mobile telephone.
I know that I am an outlier in not owning a mobile telephone, but I would like to think that if I did own one, I would not use it for trivial (not to mention public) conversations instead of enjoying the day and my dog. Actually, come to think of it, it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t own one.
Get a life people – it’s a much better option than forcing everyone to listen to the minutiae of yours.
It was a great shock to hear of the sudden and early death of performer Paul O’Grady.
Although he came to prominence as a drag artist in the 1980s with his alter ego Lily Savage, latterly it was as a dog lover that he was principally known.
He hosted two animal-themed television shows Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs from 2012–2022 and Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans from 2014–2016. For the Love of Dogs was a documentary that promoted Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and O’Grady not only filmed there but volunteered for six months. There is a bronze statue of his dog Buster, a bichon-frisé/shih tzu cross (pictured left) in the centre and he adopted another dog, a JRT/Chihuahua form there. His Animal Orphans programmes took him to Africa and India.
Although the programmes that he made about dogs were a fraction of his wide output, it is probably safe to say that they were close to his heart. he will be sorely missed.
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.
There are many hazards for which dog walkers need to be vigilant. As a puppy owner, I often feel that I wading knee deep in litter, every bit of which has the potential to end up in my puppy’s mouth and some of which could be fatal.
Getting out of town no longer provides respite as litter is far from an urban problem. Fly-tipping in the countryside has been an increasing problem since Covid-19 lockdowns and the sparsity or rural police. However, it is not the only difficulty that may be encountered.
There has been increasing concern about direct discharges of sewage onto UK beaches resulting in dog walkers being warned about 83 beaches. Problems have been exacerbated by recent heavy rainfall. The Thames has long suffered from this problem, although it seems not to deter owners from allowing their dogs to swim: if the tides don’t get you the sewage will, to misquote Tom Lehrer. Hopefully, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will alleviate the problems along the Thames and its tributaries, although that isn’t due to open until 2025.
In addition, the horrendous outbreak of avian influenza (H5N1) that had ravaged domestic and wild birds has spread to some mammals. So far, it has been detected in foxes, otters and seals in the UK. Whilst the number remain small and H5N1 may not have been the cause of death, it does pose a risk. Training your dog not to harry wildlife or scavenge carcasses is vital, not only to keep your dog safe, but to limit the potential of overspill form birds into dogs.
As the easter holidays approach, many people will no doubt be heading to beaches. Training and vigilance should ensure that it shouldn’t turn into a vet emergency.
Congratulations to online card retailer Moonpig after their announcement that they will no longer sell images of brachycephalic dogs such as pugs and French bulldogs.
Many brands have exploited such dogs for advertising purposes, often with a sick irony. BullDog Skin Care using a severely compromised dog with probable skin problems, Vitality Life Insurance using an image of an extremely achondroplastic Dachshund with an obscenely long back are just two examples.
Hopefully where Moonpig lead, others will follow. We live in a culture that is so quick to take offence over trivialities that may not even possess the perceived connection, so how can we, in all conscience, still find deformed phenotypes in dogs attractive? Not displaying them in advertising may help to dispel the normalisation of illness and pain that these dogs suffer and reduce their popularity.
Update: the coroner’s report has revealed that dog walker Natasha Johnson died from neck wounds that punctured her jugular. In the same week, yet another fatality was recorded in Milton Keynes and the poor “family” dog has been euthanised as a result. The fate of the dogs in the Caterham incident has yet to be decided even though the police have stated that no prosecutions will be brought. How many more dogs must die before something is done to educate the public, train are dogs using positive reinforcement and compel dog walkers and boarders to be sufficiently qualified and experienced backed up by the resources to reinforce it.
2022 was the worst year on record for fatal incidents involving dogs and now, barely half way through the first month of 2023, we have another.
A dog walker was killed in what seems to be a case of re-directed aggression. The fate of the eight dogs has yet to be established. If, as has so far been surmised, the dogs were in a ruck and the walker became entangled in their leads, it only goes to show how poor the skills of so-called professionals are. Whilst anyone can be involved in an accident, dog walkers need to know that it takes more than just holding the lead, liking dogs and taking clients’ money to be a professional.
Dog walkers need to be fully trained and licensed as well as regulated and we desperately need the resources to police it. Moreover, as this item emphasises, people should not get a dog unless they are prepared to mostly look after it themselves. We all need help from time to time, but if it’s on a daily basis, what’s the point in having a dog?