Dog trainer slams the use of treats to spoil dogs
A QUEENSLAND dog trainer concerned about dog attacks on young children believes too many owners are mollycoddling their pets and has rebuked training techniques using treats.
Scott Donald said dog owners had become like modern parents with a tendency to indulge and spoil dogs but the pets would not alter their behaviour if clear boundaries were not put in place.
He said he had been inundated with dog owners realising using treats and food rewards only made dogs obese, anxious and, ultimately, more aggressive.
"Dog are pack animals and need clear guidelines and boundaries," he said.
"The owner needs to establish themselves as the 'pack leader'; then follow some firm but fair dog obedience strategies which have been used effectively for thousands of years."
Mr Donald, who has trained dogs for 30 years, said another reason too many young children were dying from dog attacks, often their own pet, was the dog choice.
He said families continued to buy performance and worker dogs and were not taught how to handle them which put young children at risk.
Mr Donald said the recent deaths Mackay boy Korbin Sprott, 3, from a family German Sheppard mauling last month and the Deeon Higgins, 2, from a mastiff cross at his grandmother's house in Deniliquin in NSW in August really worried him.
He said German Sheppards, terriers, schutzhund, rotweillers, mastiffs, kelpies, border collies and cattle dogs were typically used for chasing and retrieval so they were the worst for biting and aggression.
"People forget dogs are directly derived from wolves and the dog being sold by a breeder in an unregulated industry could have any number of bloodlines," the Gold Coast trainer said.
"German Sheppards for example were deliberately bred with wild dogs to increase their aggressive tendencies.
"Kids play tug of war with their dog - they let the dog keep the toy. The dog thinks it has won and in its own mind, is more dominant.
"A child runs around the dog - the dog thinks the chase is on.
"Kids screech and shout - like prey, as if the dog was hunting. They raise sticks in the air - inciting the dog to grab at it, and the child.
"Kids poke and pull the dogs hair - they look directly at the dog's face, which the dog perceives as a challenge."
Mr Donald, who charges $800 to personally train a family dog, has developed a DIY dog training app to help owners for a fraction of the price.
The K9 Master Class Training Basics app is $6.99 on iTunes.