Too many dogs spoil the…
by David Feather
Recently, a commercial dog-walker in Surrey was killed by the dogs she was walking. According to The Times, she had eight dogs, including a Leonberger (a large and heavy breed originating from Germany). The story appears to be that one of the large dogs attacked another walker’s small dog. The lady owner picked her dog up and was bitten by the attacker. It looks as though the dog walker tried to control the situation but the large dog went for her and then the other dogs joined in. The details are still emerging.
The police will identify the dogs involved in the attack and presumably they will be destroyed. Can you imagine the distress of the owners, their dogs behaving in such a way and having them put down after what should have been a lovely exercise for their dog? It would have been very traumatic too for the lady whose dog was attacked and for other onlookers.
So, was it a responsible action to take eight dogs for a walk when other dogs are likely to be met? How many dogs can a single person control, particularly if they are off the lead? Should dog owners trust dog walkers who take so many dogs out at once?
Colin Tennant, the director of the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training and the Chairman of the Canine and feline Behaviour Association describes, in an article in the Sunday Times, the pack mentality that can take over dogs if they are not under control. His rule is that you can walk only the number of dogs that you can physically control in any emergency. In his view the maximum number generally is two.
Professional dog walkers regularly visit the reserve with large groups of dogs. We know there have been complaints about this in the past but little seems to have been done. In view of the tragic death of a young woman, and with the expert backing of Colin Tenant, is it now time for Wiltshire Council to consider limiting the number of dogs a single person can bring to the reserve?