council-fencesSeven News Brisbane recently posted on their Facebook page this comment:

If you own a dog you could soon be fined if it barks at someone even if it’s fenced in your yard. Councils are demanding new powers to handle dog attacks but critics say the plan has too much bite. What do you think?

Could I please respectfully make an argument for the support of this council.

Perhaps fining owners of barking dogs is not the right approach, but certainly public education about barking dogs and the risks involved is long overdue. I am a dog lover and professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA). Please note that the news report states that the councils are targeting dog attacks.

As a dog lover I have cringed and felt ill on hearing the news reports of dog attacks, especially those on children. I have assisted to modify the behaviour of numerous dogs that have bitten people. All too often, the number one contributing factor to the dog becoming a biter is that the dog has been allowed to bark at people from behind the yard fence or a front window of the home.

In this situation, the dog appears to bark at people approaching his/her territory – the person continues passing by the dog’s property as was always their intention – the dog believes that it has forced the person to retreat. Every time this situation is repeated, the dog’s aggressive behaviour is reinforced. It is incredibly empowering for the dog. This is pretty much the design of a training program for a guard dog – build the dog’s confidence that it has strength and control over people so that it will confidently attack them. It is a reasonably sounding argument that we want dogs to guard our properties.

But the problem occurs when a visitor or tradesman leaves the gate open, or a tree falls and brings the fence down, allowing the dog to be free to bite anyone who happens to walk past. I would go so far as to say that allowing the dog to experience the empowering situation of successfully “scaring” people off from behind a fence, is effectively turning the dog into a dangerous weapon.

If you want such a dog, then perhaps the laws can be changed to protect the innocent: dual fences, each 2.5 metres high with concrete at he bottom to stop digging under and key entry, around the entire property. It’s not a lot different for those who choose to keep guns. The law insists that the innocent are protected: the guns must be kept in a double-locked, metal gun safe that is bolted to a concrete floor or wall and ammunition has to be kept locked in a separate safe.