My Turn: Preventing dog problems

For the Monitor
Published: 4/8/2021 10:00:17 AM

“Tails of Terror,” a Monitor article detailing a multiple dog attack on a couple and their dog in Epsom is a cautionary tale on what can go very wrong when untrained dogs are allowed to run “at large.”

Mobbing behavior is occasionally observed in feral species as a protection against a predator. Occasionally, this behavior occurs in dogs. In the Epsom case, eight dogs possibly responded to another dog as if that dog were a predator. A group of dogs may even attack another dog they know.

Preventing mobbing is simple, dogs should not be in packs unless for a specific purposes such as sled dog racing, lure coursing or hunting where those dogs have been specifically trained and are under supervision. The supervision of dogs is well detailed by NH Revised Statutes Annotated (RSAs) in chapter 466. Each section of the chapter was well crafted and allowed accommodations for those who want to train, compete, hunt or provide a public service with their dogs.

Despite these excellent provisions, dog owners continue to violate these RSA provisions at their own peril. Though dogs are routinely leashed when off the owner’s property, there is no statewide “leash law” in NH. Dog owners comply with the state statutes if the dog is under their control. Control is not limited to sight or even sound, allowing for such activities as hunting, tracking and article and lost person searches.

Dogs rarely get into difficulties when involved in these activities. The problems occur with untrained dogs allowed to roam “at large.” Some municipalities, such as Concord, have a specific leash law that mandates a leash no more than six feet in length. This law allows for the use of shorter “traffic leads” and “tabs” that allow dogs to be trained in public. For dog owners who violate these statutes, the outcome may be stark.

Per RSA 466, dogs that are menacing humans or worrying other animals may be shot. In Epsom, the victims would be legally justified in killing the attacking dogs. The owner of those dogs would be subject to misdemeanor charges even if his dogs were killed.

Preventing unfortunate and dangerous situations with dogs involves several actions. First, owners might consider limiting the number of dogs they possess. Adequately training and caring for multiple dogs is real work. For most people, more than one or two dogs is courting neglect. These are companion animals that should not be ignored.

Second, train your dog. Get involved in a rigorous dog training course, one where your dog will learn to be a source of pleasure and behave in public. Third, follow the law regarding the management of your dog. Not only is the law there to guide you, the law is there to protect you.

For example, in NH theft of a dog or even removing a collar from a dog is a crime. The law is on your side, and you dog’s side. Following any one of the three factors should have prevented this specific attack in Epsom and eliminate future, unfortunate situations.

(Maurice Regan is a psychologist who runs Companion Dog Training and conducts classes with Concord Parks and Recreation.)




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