Training essential to prevent dog attacks

BIRMINGHAM, Al — (WIAT) Nearly five million Americans are hurt by dog bites each year.  That’s from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dog bite fatalities range from 10 to 20 people every year.

Recent attacks in Alabama have some city leaders pushing for tougher laws. Pell City Mayor Joe Funderburg says he wants a vicious dog ordinance on the books.

“Once these animals have been identified, specifically by their breed, then there should be more concern about keeping them where they don’t have contact with the rest of the community,” says Funderburg.

Many insurance companies have lists of dogs they consider to be “dangerous” or “blacklisted breeds.” If you own one of these dogs and it bites someone, your insurance may not cover the damages. Just a few of those breeds that are popular with dog owners are: Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Great Danes and German Shepherds.

But even smaller breeds of dogs can cause problems when it comes to biting. CBS42 reached out to a trainer who has more than thirty years experience working with dogs of all breeds. He owns Infinity Training and operates out of Dog Days of Birmingham, a combination daycare, grooming, boarding and training facility.

Between the small dogs and the big guys, it can get a little loud at Dog Days. But despite the barking, every mutt gets along. And it’s socialization like this that owner, Jimmy Johnson says is one of the key qualities for creating a good dog. The other is training.

“Not to bite people, not to jump on people and what they can and cant do,” says Johnson. “They can’t learn that just on their own. They have to be taught that at an early age. If you wait six months they’re already six months behind.”

LaDale Kennedy used to work with military dogs. He now trains civilian pups at Dog Days including many in the muscle or bully breed, like pit bulls.

As the owner, if you don’t take the responsibility to show the dog what you expect, you can’t expect the dog to do anything but to respond like a dog,” says Kennedy.

So is it possible to have a good dog even when dealing with these bully breeds? Kennedy emphatically says yes! “It’s possible to have a wonderful dog, probably one of the best dogs you’ve ever had.”

In three years of business Johnson says it’s actually been the little dogs that have bitten or nipped him, not the larger ones. And Kennedy says that has also been his experience.

“Small dogs actually bite more per year than any large dog ever has. It’s just not reported because it doesn’t cause as much damage and its usually the family members.”

But whether you have a tiny Terrier or a Great Dane, both men say it all comes down to us, the owners, to be responsible for our pets. Because as it’s been said, intelligence and manners seem to run down the leash.

If you’re interested in training or day care at Dog Days of Birmingham you can find a link to their Facebook page and website here.

2014 WIAT CBS 42

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