May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 18 November 2011

Living in fear

Can you please tell me what legislation if any is in place with regard to Pit Bulls and Staffie cross dogs. We have several in our area who have attacked other dogs and injured them. Me and my dog were attacked earlier this year and we reported it to the police. The dog was later put down as the owners left it in a house when they moved out and it bit the RSPCA inspector. I live in fear when I walk my dog, I have changed my route several times lately.
I live in Paisley {Gallowhill} Renfrewshire and I have a shepherd cross
Janet Beaton, via Dogs Today facebook page

My understanding is that at the moment if a dog's actions makes a person scared there's legislation in place (the Dangerous Dogs Act) but with dog on dog attacks no one seems very much interested. Theoretically under the DDA we shouldn't have any Pit Bulls these days as in the 1990s when the DDA came all Pit Bulls were supposed to be neutered and no m ore bred or imported but we now have very many more than we ever had before and people seem not to realise that if they own a Pit Bull they should be registered, neutered and muzzled to be within the law. In fact more and more I encounter people who openly say they own a Pit Bull and they have no idea that it is a restricted breed in any way.
If you feel afraid when you are out walking then that is not good. In my experience people with aggressive dogs tend to walk very early and very late in remote places hoping to avoid others.
Has anyone any ideas for what Janet can do to get her confidence back? Might a walking group help? Has anyone experience of setting one up?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor


  1. I don't have a problem where I live (touch wood) but I always carry a jiff lemon squirter in my pocket and then if an attack occurs just squirt it in the attacking dogs eyes - it stings them and gives you the chance to grab your dog.

  2. I have similar problem, though not with bull breeds, just random nastiness,usually from terriers.
    now my bitch is defensive with every dog aproaching her,so it becomes a true "vicious circle".
    Join a training group, get good advice... and if all else fails, do as I do, walk on the lead where potential trouble lies and use a ball thrower for a few minutes to give your dog a run when no dogs are nearby.
    other owners say " they are worse on the lead, well I beg to differ, if your dog is well trained and can socialise on a loose lead, you at least can keep them away from any trouble should it arise, without ending up with a major dog fight.

  3. Unfortunately in London parks this is an oh too common fear. I have been running the RubyScrumptious Chihuahua & Toydog meetup group for the past 5 years and we enable owners of toydogs who are often terrified to walk their dogs after incidents where their dogs have been attacked by other dogs in their local parks etc. One lady's Papillon had been picked up & shook by a medium sized crossbreed and shook..the puncture wound from that was 2mm from her heart and she was almost killed + the owner of the other dog did not stick around!
    I could tell you lots of similar stories like this & therefore do not make light of dog owners fears of attack because I have heard of so many that have ended up injured or killed that I think it is alright dog trainers saying you should not pick your dog up etc as it is often too late to act once the dog is upon you. Years ago we would've all given this as good advice,but i'm afraid times have changed.
    We walk regularly as a group in a park where there is a high Police presence & also in areas where you can see dogs in your vicinity.
    If you dont have a local dog group you can become an organiser at and arrange to walk with others in your area,this will boost your confidence. If you need further advice please feel to get in touch.
    Michelle /"Ruby Scrumptious" on Facebook

  4. My beautiful weim Cindy has been attached several times now, the most nasty two incidents being when she was 5 mths old by a GSD which narrowly missed the tendons in her foreleg, and the other early last year when she was 7 but a lab x border terrier looking mix. Each time we've bounced back and while she's understandably wary on meeting new dogs at first (and I have to battle panic feelings too), she's overall maintained her lovely, friendly, 'wanna be friends' character.

    First: She gets a short road walk every morning, and on this road walk, I make a point of stopping to talk to other dog walkers - at a comfy distance - across the road for eg, so that neither dog is pushed to outside its comfort zone - just talk about the weather, or anything. Its amazing how quickly people will want to stop and chat when you say 'what a beautiful dog'. This works 2 ways in that it helps your dog learn to be relaxed around other dogs, and you both get to know other dogs, so that when you meet them in the field, you already have a relationship with them.

    Second:- this was a by product of trying to fix a naughty little trick my girl cottoned on to ;) She would purposefully speed up and gain momentum on a particularly steep slippery slope we used to walk down, with an aim to pull me down and get me to release the lead so she could run back into the field rather than finish her walk. I taught her the command 'behind', with the clicker, so that she was very keen to show how clever she is and throw herself into position. Not long after she had learnt this command, we were rushed at by an extremely nervous aggressive collie. I said behind, and Cindy took to position. RELIEF!!! I could then block the collies view and scare it off. Cin was clearly glad for my dealing with this situation rather than her having to. This is now our first defence and Cin knows if I say behind, I'm not sure of the other dog and will position herself. We've had to use this no end of times :( not least and very annoyingly, on pavements along side roads where people think they are being so clever by letting their dogs walk off lead.

    Point to remember - if your dog is nervous of an approaching dog, recall is likely to fail because who wants to turn their back on the enemy. I always command 'stand' to keep her still (an aggressive dog is more likely to attack a moving dog than a still one), while I catch up and put her into behind.

  5. Contact a local dog trainer, preferably one who is registered with the APDT UK as see if they do an outdoor class that you can join in.

    My Scotish geography is not good but I know are! Max may be able to put you in touch with someone local to you.

    In the meantime you need to build your dog's and your confidence. Teach him to check in with you whenever you see another dog, be hyper vigilant and scan the horizon constantly, this will give you time to turn around and walk the other way. If your dog does get attacked don't try to wade in and help as the chances are you will get bitten. I know it's hard to stand back, find something that will distract the attacking dog, but not frighten your dog as you don't want to have your dog associate you with negativity around other dogs.

    You may want to invest in a wide collar for your dog so that his neck is protected from bites, but make sure it has a quick release clasp in case he becomes entangled with another dog.

    Unfortunately there are always going to be people who want status symbol dogs, no matter what the breed, we've been through the rounds of the large dogs being the baddies, from Dobes to Rotties to Shepherds, all have at one time in the past 20-30 years been the media's devil dog, the way they are raised can have a huge effect on the dog's personality. Some people aren't even sure of the breed they have, I've witnessed people with black labs instist their dog is part APBT, or people with American Bull Terriers adding the word "pit" into the mix.

    Olwen Turns

  6. Sometimes it may be possible to prevent or make an attack less likely by your behaviour. For example, an unsocialised dog may not like to be approached head-on, as we humans usually do. If you see a dog that looks like it has a problem, you could get off the path and go round, even at some distance. This can help both the "aggressive" dog and your own dog who will be worried by the attitude of the approaching dog.

    Going in company can add confidence. Sometimes two or more people in between passing dogs just adds a barrier and makes an anti-social dog less likely to attack.

    Of course there are some dogs who are allowed offlead and will attack no matter what you do. The Dangerous Dogs Act is only in place for damage or threat to humans. However, the Dogs Act 1871 is worth looking at, because this is a much more reasoned approach to dealing with dangerous dogs, and danger to other people's dogs is included.