Calls for tighter restrictions on dog walking after spike in attacks

Dog behaviorist Zoe Willingham said lots of trainers are using “outdated” punishments which can create “aggression” in dogs due to a lack of fear and stress. Ms Willingham, who has 23 dogs of her own said “tighter restrictions” need to be put in place on how many dogs one person can walk and “designated safe spaces” away from children where dogs can be let off the lead.

Speaking on what needs to be enforced Ms Willingham said having untrained dogs off the lead is “not safe”.

She said: “It makes sense to have dogs on the lead in parks where children are playing close by for example, but there is also a requirement for more designated safe spaces where dogs can be let off the lead.

“Dogs should only be allowed off the lead if they have been trained to do so and have a good recall. Having a dog off lead that won’t recall is not safe for the dog being let off and other dog walkers.”

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Dog trainer Jo Sellers made similar calls for rules surrounding dog walkers.

She said dogs are often put together without being matched appropriately for “money and numbers”.

She added: “This can cause friction between the dogs, and of course, it’s how the dogs are handled by the walker during the walk that has an effect too.

“A good walker will consider all this and not just put random dogs together in a large group and do nothing.”

On dog training, she called for training to continue for the first “two years at least”.

She said: “Dogs need more than just a 6-week puppy class. Their needs change as they grow, and their development continues through adolescence.

“Most dogs surrendered are under 2 years old, generally as owners cannot cope any more. These owners may falsely assume a few weeks at the start was enough, but in reality, they need to keep coaching the dog and set them up for success during the teenage years.”

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