Puppies could be more dangerous after lockdown, the Kennel Club has warned after a spate of attacks on children by non-dangerous dog breeds.
Three-month-old Kyra Leanne King died after being attacked by a husky dog in Lincolnshire on March 6. Bella-Rae Birch, 17 months old, was killed by an American Bully XL dog in Merseyside on March 21. A two-year-old boy was killed by a Rottweiler in Worcestershire on Monday.
None of these breeds are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
The Kennel Club has now warned that socialization is “crucial” to ensure dogs don’t develop dangerous behaviour.
It added that puppies bought during lockdown are particularly at risk of becoming aggressive if not introduced to other dogs on a regular basis.
“Prevention is by far the best cure”
A spokesman said: “Prevention is by far the best cure and responsible breeding, proper socialization and environment are all crucial. It can affect any breed – as it is much more about training and socialization than breed type.
“Worrying research from The Kennel Club found many new puppy owners picked up bad habits during lockdown, with 20 per cent admitting they have not socialized their pup with other dogs, people or everyday situations outside the home. This increases the likelihood that a dog will act aggressively because it feels scared, threatened, or provoked by an unfamiliar situation.
“We urge all dog owners to ensure their dog has had proper socialization, be vigilant about their dogs, and recognize their dog’s body language so they can prevent a situation from escalating.”
Teaching children how to behave around dogs would help reduce the number of attacks, The Kennel Club said.
“Children need to know when and how to handle dogs safely”
“Children need to know when and how to handle dogs safely, recognize warning signs and what to do to prevent situations from escalating into an attack,” a spokesman said.
Buying puppies from irresponsible breeders is also a big problem, as it’s important to see how they’ll behave in their mother’s home environment before making a decision, The Kennel Club said.
A man and woman, aged 54 and 40, who were being held on suspicion of being responsible for a runaway dog, have been released as part of an investigation following the death of Kyra Leanne King.
Bella-Rae Birch was attacked just a week after her family bought the American Bully XL dog. About 100 people attended a vigil to commemorate her.
There were now three Rottweilers in the house where the two-year-old boy died on Monday. They were all removed from the property by police.