BARKS from the Guild March 2018

Page 31

Our goal was to create safe, successful humane encounters with dogs for emergency and service personnel when they encounter unknown dogs through their duties. Since it has been created, people in other lines of work like deliveries, surveying, real estate and utilities have expressed an interest in the training. tentially risky dog encounter. It also explains what to do if a dog escalates in behavior despite attempts to diffuse the situation. Through written description, pictures and video, the course shows groups of signals from the dog that indicate a person is generally safe; groups of signals that indicate the person should not approach the dog; and signals that indicate the dog is conflicted or ambivalent. It also illustrates how a person can show they are not a threat and how to avoid escalating threatening behavior in a dog. Participants are also cautioned to avoid making a judgment about whether a dog is a threat based on the presumed breed or appearance. Instead, they are encouraged to assess and interpret an individual dog’s behavior based on the signals he is giving. Unfortunately, stigma still surrounds some breeds and types of dogs such as those often referred to as “bully breeds,” and making a judgement about a dog based on looks rather than behavior can be deadly for the dog. For example, short-haired muscular dogs may be misidentified as one of the bully breeds by both victims and witnesses, the authorities and/or the media. Indeed, studies have shown that, not only bully breeds, but also those dogs with much more superficial characteristics such as being well-muscled, or even short-haired, were stigmatized more often as “dangerous” by those with less experience with or knowledge of dogs (Clarke, Cooper, & Mills, 2013). In addition, while the term “pit bull” is often used to describe a group of dogs consisting of American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers, and mixes of those breeds along with dogs that, based upon their appearance, are deemed to resemble these breeds (Hoffman, Harrison, Wolff


& Westgarth, 2014), the term is often used by dog owners, animal shelters, insurance companies, veterinarians, and the public as though it describes a breed (Olson et al., 2015). Avoiding this type of stereotyping is an essential part of the course’s message and there is still much work to be done in this arena. In the meantime, however, I am delighted to report that the course has received great feedback and that more courses are in the making. n


CBS/AP. (2016, January 26). Colorado city to pay $262,500 for dog killed by officer. Available at: Clarke, T., Cooper, J., & Mills, D. (2013). Acculturation - Perceptions of breed differences in behavior of the dog (Canis familiaris). Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin 1 (2) 16-33. Available at: Daily News (2016, February 26). Detroit man awarded $100,000 settlement after cop killed his dog outside home: 'Oh, I had to shoot that one.' Available at: Hoffman, C. L., Harrison, N., Wolff, L., & Westgarth, C. (2014). Is that dog a pit bull? A cross-country comparison of perceptions of shelter workers regarding breed identification. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 17 (4) 322-339. Available at: Olson, K.R., Levy, J.K., Norby, B., Crandall, M.M., Broadhurst, J.E., Jacks, S., … Zimmerman, M.S. (2015, November). Inconsistent identification of pit bull-type dogs by shelter staff. Available at: Jane Bowers BA CPDT-KA CABC runs Dogs of Distinction ( in Roberts Creek, British Columbia and has been training dogs for over two decades. She teaches people to train their dogs in group and private training courses and has a keen interest in assisting dogs with behavioral issues. She also has a monthly newspaper column on dog-related topics and was a former host of a live call-in television show on animals. She has a degree in psychology and is certified as a dog trainer through the CCPDT and as a behavior consultant through the IAABC and the AABP. She is also author of the book Perfect Puppy Parenting.

Become Your Community’s Dog Bite Safety Expert Keeping K eeping futur futuree gener generations rations atio ations sa safe fe

Dog Bite Safety Educator

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