Stark warning as number of dog attacks rises sharply

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The number of dog attacks recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by more than a third in the past five years.

Lasst year, there were nearly 22,000 cases of out-of-control dogs causing injury whereas, in 2018, there were around 16,000. Experts, working as part of a BBC investigation, have issued tips owners can use to help control their pets.

Why do dogs attack? 

Often, a dog lashes out as a result of stress and anxiety. The leading causes of aggressive behaviour in dogs, stress can often be caused by overstimulation – this can be from too much noise and too many people surrounding the dog.

Another reason can be down to territorial & protective behaviour. An attempt to protect their territory or their owner can lead a dog to act aggressively towards strangers approaching when away from home. Whilst many dogs practice avoidance rather than bite, they will resort to biting if they feel threatened and the threat does not retreat even when a subtle or overt warning has been given.

However, some dogs are aggressive towards people even when they have been raised properly and trained appropriately. The behaviour can be exacerbated by poor health or pain somewhere in the body.

What can I do to prevent my dog attacking a human?

  • Speak to a vet: If you’re concerned about your dog’s behaviour the vet should be your first port of call. A vet has a fountain of knowledge when it comes to dogs and their behaviour and will be able to help you keep on top of any underlying conditions that may cause your dog to be aggressive.

    Online vet platforms like Vetster make it quick and easy to have a conversation or wellness check for your pet over the phone. A vet will be able to advise whether your dog’s behaviour can be tackled with training & awareness, or if there is medical treatment needed.

  • Know the signs to remove your dog from a situation or give them space: Dogs will show they are uncomfortable before they show signs of aggression. These include licking their lips, ears going backwards and trying to move or turn away from other animals or people.
  • If you haven’t spotted any initial signs of anxiety, it’s important to be able to identify the more serious signs of aggression. These include growling, snarling, posture changes and baring teeth.
  • Make sure you are using a qualified, humane dog trainer or training techniques: Studies have shown that confrontational training methods practiced by some trainers are a contributing factor to dog bites. Positive training can change the way your dog perceives what threatens or scares him and make him more confident around new people.

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