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Letter: All dogs need some level of training

Reader says recent dog attack in Calgary that claimed life of senior woman highlights need for awareness

I do believe that yes all life is precious, however that doesn’t mean all dogs should live or all people should be allowed to have dogs.

For example, take the case of the three dogs that recently attacked an 86-year-old woman in Calgary while she was gardening in her own yard, resulting in her death.

Authorities believe the three dogs to be a North American Pitbull terrier mix, a North American Staffordshire mix and an American Pitbull. 

I’m not even surprised by the fact they are Pit bulls or Pit bull crosses. A Staffordshire terrier is also a Pit Bull type of dog.

It’s not unlike a similar three-dog attack on a 84-year old lady in Billings, Montana recently, resulting in her death. Dogs also killed a 77-year old woman in Phoenix in 2021, while she was sitting on her front step. 

Dog attacks cause 30-50 fatalities each year in North America. Most of them are by Pit Bulls or wolf/dog Hybrids. These dogs should not be allowed to live and should be euthanized as quickly and humanely as possible and the owners should be charged with aiding and abetting for not having the dogs under control and trained that such behavior is not allowed. 

And they should know that letting two or three dogs run together is enabling their instinctive pack-based genetics to take over and control their behaviour. 

People who have dogs for pets also have a responsibility to understand them and train them as to what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable behaviour.

Owning a dog is a serious responsibility, in addition to making sure they have adequate food and water and a dry warm bed, you are also responsible for their safety 24/7 and letting them run loose unsupervised and out of your control is failing to fulfill that responsibility.

I’m speaking from over 40 years experience as a professional dog trainer and veterinarian who is trained to save the lives of animals, including dogs, and has done so on many occasions. 

And I love my dogs as much as anyone, but I don’t let that overcome common sense and what is the right thing to do with them. Dogs are not little people and should not be treated as such or as substitute children.

It escapes me how out of touch with reality some people are about a dog’s potential natural instinctive behaviours. 

For example recently I saw an ad for puppies that were a cross between a Maremma and a Black Mouthed Cur hound. 

What a contradiction of instincts, the Maremma, with the instinct to protect animals from predation, and the Black mouthed Cur hound, a hunting dog and an instinctive predator. How confusing it must be for the puppies once grown. To protect or to kill? Tough choice and puppy is often programmed for the wrong one. 

How can people be so thoughtless as to breed these kind of dogs? And more important how can people be so foolish as to buy one? It’s very predictable what is likely going to happen and someone may get seriously hurt as a result.  

Turkey has stopped allowing the export of some of their livestock-guarding dog breeds because of such in appropriate crossbreeding and their concern for the potential loss of the good genes responsible for the protective behaviour.

And wolf hybrids should not be allowed either for similar reasons. The human fatalities, now over two dozen, from them are nearly the same as for pit bulls, another breed that most people should not be allowed to have as a pet.  

These two types of dogs account for the majority of human fatalities by dogs. These animals have the kill instinct, not what one should want in a pet. Add to the list the several other aggressive, potentially dangerous breeds we should be aware of and yes, there maybe a few exceptions, but is it worth the risk? 

And there’s no need for such animals as there are lots of good and kind breeds of dogs for pets, from the some 200 plus different breeds to choose from.

Come on people, time to put aside your egotistical need for a tough bad dog and use your common sense when choosing the best dog for a pet and protection companion for you and or your children.

Your proper choice and proper training of that dog might save some elderly lady's life, or someone else’s, like a child or maybe even your own.  

A lady was killed a few years ago by a litter of wolf dogs that she had hand raised because she refused to understand that possibility. They should have been bonded to her by then but obviously weren’t, and their pack behavior took over, resulting in her death.

So when choosing a dog give it some serious thought about the breed and the potential instincts that it could have, and do the right thing and get the right dog for your needs. 

Then take the time to bond with it and train it for basic obedience at the minimum and insist on consistency in its behaviour and to be response to your commands.

If you are unable or unwilling to do this training, then hire an experienced, professional trainer to do it. You will be glad you did and can look forward to many years with a good obedient happy to please you, as a safe dog.

There is no better companion than a good, well-trained dog. And they can be of great help as a guide or service dog or even to save lives, as in livestock protection from predation, or as a search and rescue animal if they are trained for those purposes. 

But all dogs need some level of training and control management.

- Darrel Florence, Cremona