As the deadline for submissions on breed specific legislation (restrictions on certain dog breeds) to the government of Ireland, passes, Lilly Lee Colgan founder of Ireland’s ‘Pit Bull Terrier Association & Bull Breed Registry’, argues that there is no need for many of the proposed changes in Ireland’s legislation. However she also contends that changes in ‘Responsible Ownership Requirements’ are long overdue.
Each canine breed was created for a specific task; be that from breeds historically raised to take down bulls, hunting wild boar and lions, to protecting land stock and the settlers’ families. All selectively bred for specific working traits and purposes.
Although every breed differs in focus and drive they have more or less the same psychology when it comes to obedience training and socialising, however the prime factor that separates each breed is … traits!
It is important to educate yourself on the history of your dog’s heritage and to understand it was selectively bred for a particular working purpose, meaning genetic traits can, at any time, be triggered if the dog is put in the wrong environment.
No two dogs will react the same in a situation which is uncomfortable. Each dog has its own individual character just like humans. Some can get along, and some don't! However this should not be put down to a dog being aggressive or labelled dangerous, but rather your dog may be just reminding you that his triggers - as a breed – do not suit the environment into which you have just placed him.
" A perfect example of choosing the wrong breed to fit into your lifestyle."
Owners need to educate and focus more on what the dog is telling you rather then ignoring the dog’s heritage and needs as a breed... you wouldn't put a collie in a field and expect it not to herd !! Does that make him a bad dog? A perfect example of choosing the wrong breed to fit into your lifestyle.
It is important not to assume that any dog regardless of breed, training and socialising, becomes bombproof when it comes to children and other dogs. The reality is if your dog is confronted with a situation where he's uncomfortable, all the training or socialising in the world can not prepare them for such stress, which may result in an unfortunate, serious and regrettable reaction, we hear about time and time again. And then the predictable response from the unprepared owner: “He never did that before!” Or “… that happened out of the blue!!” None of the above happens without warning signs.
There is a duty of care inside and outside the home.
By promoting ideas stating that ‘stronger types of breeds can do well in off-leash parks or public places once you've had them trained and socialised’ is detrimental advice.
There are certain breeds specifically bred for animal combat, they are not suited to off-leash parks or busy places with off-leash dogs. All it takes is just one off-leash dog to come unruly and wanting to fight!! Haven't we heard these stories time and time again?
Remember when taking dogs on as pets, you also take on their genetic make-up as well as traits, regardless of how you train or socialise them. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to prevent the breed’s ‘working ability’ from surfacing by keeping your dog away from any triggers that can alert them. Training and obedience classes are brilliant for bonding with your dog but they DO NOT make your dog bombproof!! You do!!
Dogs bred for protection work should not be off-leash in a public place regardless of how effective your control of obedience seems. Surely common sense! These types of breeds have a high pray drive to protect their pack. No matter how well socialised your dog is you should not set them up for failure by putting them in a situation where they are trigged by an unruly child, jogger or loud groups of people. Your dog may be your baby at home and great with the people it is familiar with, however you simply cannot expect your dog to go against its instinct when it has been selectivity bred to protect you.
" Any breed raised for protection work
tends to be leery of strangers"
Breed Standard - Terms & Conditions
The instructions on how to keep your breed safe is clearly stated in the breed standard. Any breed raised for protection work tends to be leery of strangers. Keeping that in mind seems common sense BUT unfortunately there is a minority of people that are under the illusion that all depends on how you nurture your dog and train it.
Breeds bred for animal combat come with ‘terms & conditions’ written in the ‘Breeds Standard’ for all owners to research. These are beautiful breeds in the correct hands and make fantastic pets but unfortunately some people are ignoring the guidelines!!
You can not teach a dog bite prevention when its mouth is it’s only knowing defence!
Potential new owners need to be given the appropriate tools, knowledge and understanding of these types of dogs. There is no excuse in this day and age as there is plenty of information for all to research on various expert sites.
All dogs, regardless of breed, can be as dangerous as each other. However when some sectors of the canine training industry constantly promote policy positions that ‘stronger breeds’ are no different when it comes to ownership or duty of care while out in public places then that is where the line needs to be drawn!
The argument is not about who or what breed causes the issue, but rather do not put your dog in situations that set him up to fall. The excuse “I didn't raise my dog that way” or “my dog didn't start it” is simply not valid anymore. Owners should know the consequences of what might happen assuming they have researched the breed.
Unrestricted breeds can and are getting on with each other, they socialise well in off leash designated areas. Yes they can get into scuffles but they are not high driven working breeds with protection or animal combat traits. This makes them the perfect types of breeds to bring to parks and other off-leash dog areas. Breeds such as labs, cockers collies etc, can get on without their working traits preventing them. These breeds practice the ritual of ‘submission’ a trait that allows these types of dogs to get on amicably with each other. However that said, all dogs regardless of breed should be kept under effective control and on-leash in public places to enable the public to go about their business free from unwanted harassment.
Smokescreens are not productive in the prevention of attacks!! Misleading information on your breed’s true temperament will only get you and your dog into trouble. Specific breeds are not detrimental to society!!! Issues are caused when some people ignore the ‘terms and conditions’ that come with each breed. All attacks are preventable, and with proper understanding of the ‘needs of your chosen breed’ rather than focusing on our own needs, is a good start.
"There is no need to remove the
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) -V- RESTRICTED BREEDS - V - GUIDELINES
There is no conclusive scientific evidence which proves the restrictions on dog breeds has failed. However the data, put forward by Irish experts, which seeks to strengthen proposals for a removal of restrictions is largely taken from jurisdictions which have breed bans and not just guidelines. As we have no banned breeds here in Ireland nor Dangerous Dogs Acts, ONLY restrictions, this data is totally irrelevant to Ireland.
The Restrictions placed on 10 breeds here in Ireland, in the early 1990s, was due to an outburst of attacks in public places by off-leash dogs. This very attitude has led us to where we stand today. That said the regulations put in place were most certainly fair considering breed bans were being imposed for similar attacks in the UK and in Northern Ireland.
The restrictions on specific breeds should not be looked at as a symbol of BSL, but rather a reminder of the guidelines and terms and conditions that come with each breed regardless of legislation!! So for once the government unknowingly got it right instead of banning breeds and brushing the root of the problem - that is irresponsible/uneducated ownership - under the carpet!!
There is no need to remove the existing legislation which only reminds people of their responsibility to the general public and their dog. However adding compulsory bite prevention online courses in order to obtain a dog licence regardless of breed would certainly be much more productive in the prevention of attacks in which dogs are blamed instead of inexperienced and poorly informed owners.
A dog’s breed only becomes a relatively small factor to be accommodated once responsible owners understand the proper care and welfare which our k9 companions require.