Brits on holiday sometimes attract a bad press, but so can our pets. It is often on their return from holiday that many owners decide it’s time to seek help for their dog because it has seemingly transformed from their little angel to a tiny tear-away.
Anti-social behaviour involving dogs is a major problem in the UK and local authorities manage it via the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The most common problems are dogs that are out of control, dogs that bark and bite and owners that do not pick up dog poo and place it in a bin. In addition, when dogs are taken to the countryside it is dogs that chase wildlife and disturb other users that create conflict between the dog owning community and other users of the countryside.
So while a dog may be viewed by its owners as super friendly and ‘just loves to play’, other dogs and users of the countryside will often view this dog as out of control, dangerous. Some people may be frightened of it, and other dogs may be forced to defend themselves against what they perceive to be a threat. The result is often angry exchanges between dogs and people. The cause is often that a dog is being allowed a little too much freedom to express itself, and the parallels between Brits abroad and dogs in the countryside are all too clear; some of us and some of our dogs just want to have a little too much fun!
Such dog behaviour can lead dog owners coming to the attention of the police or local authorities, but this can be easily avoided if action is taken sooner rather than later to manage the dog better.
Research has shown that 76% of incidents involving all types of anti-social behaviour were resolved through early intervention. But incidents concerning dogs can occur for a wide range of reasons, and dog behaviour is a complex area to understand. It may be the first incident, and the dog may have just felt a little under the weather, or perhaps just over-excited about by being out and about. This means that discussing the situation with the owner at an early stage and understanding the full background to the incident is extremely helpful in identifying the most appropriate course of action to help the dog, and its owner, become a respected member of the community once more.
Sadly finding appropriate help is not always easy as anyone, without any form of qualifications, can call themselves a dog trainer or behaviourist. The results can be poor diagnosis of the problem, insensitive treatment of the owner, followed by inappropriate methods of changing the behaviour that in many cases can make the problems worse and may increase the likelihood that the dog will use aggression to protect itself in the future. In some cases people have even suggested a dog should be euthanized for doing as little as barking too much.
To safeguard the welfare of your pet and to be confident that your own concerns are treated respectfully, DEFRA and the Government refer to the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) with respect to trainers and behaviourists. You can find them at abtcouncil.org.uk and within this organisation you will find members of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (UK), the Canine Behaviour and Training Society and ASAB Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists. These organisations can also be contact directly via their respective websites.
Once professional help is sought, it often only takes a small amount of assistance that allows owners to better understand their dog so they can then follow a training or behaviour modification programme that sees their dog gradually transform back into the little angel her or she once was.
Like people, most dogs just want to find a way to live happily and all we have to do as owners is help them find those ways. But sometimes a little professional help is needed in the same way that when some us go abroad we might need a little professional help to get ourselves back on track.
Cover Photo: David Ryan