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Press release:

Proposed provincial regulation on controlling dangerous dogs in Quebec: What about the education of canine behaviors?

For immediate release

Montréal, May 22, 2019 – Following proposed tightening of Quebec's provincial dangerous dog regulations announced last Wednesday by Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault, the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) Canada is disappointed to see that the new measures are aimed mostly at cases where an attack has already happened and changing dogs instead of animal guardians.

"Dogs have a different communication system than humans, and it is imperative that all animal guardians be educated before even owning a dog" suggests Dominique Routhier, interim director and animal biologist of SPA Canada. Among the major reasons people who give up dogs to shelters are behavioral issues. The cause: a lack of comprehension of the dog's needs and canine language. How many bites could be prevented if only the public was aware of how dogs send signals to people around them. Some are obvious, such as growling, hairs standing up on the back, ears flattened back against the head and barking. Others are less well-known, such as: yawning, licking their muzzle, looking away, lowering or turning their head and putting their tail between their legs. Dogs rarely attack without warning. The way you approach a dog and "read" its body language is equally important. Allow the animal to approach you first. Always approach a dog from the side and hold out your fist to let it smell you, waiting for it to take the first steps towards you. If the dog does not seem interested in socializing, respect it and leave it alone.

"It should be mandatory for all animal guardians to take a course before owning a dog, not only to ensure better understanding of the animal's needs and way of communicating, but to reduce instances of people who want dogs on a whim. Furthermore, it would be harder for dog animal guardians to cite lack of awareness to avoid accountability for their dog's actions," declared Ms Routhier. "animal guardians as well as the dog should then take a canine education course after the adoption."

In addition to the suggestions above in response to the proposed regulation, sterilization should be mandatory for all dogs, not just dogs classified as dangerous, to reduce cases of aggression and overpopulation. Forcing dangerous dogs to wear head halters does nothing to prevent the possibility of bites, unlike basket muzzles, so what's the point of putting them on dangerous dogs? Yes, an adult should supervise dogs in the presence of children, but we also need to educate children and adults on calming signals and how to behave around dogs.

To conclude, establishing simple procedures could drastically reduce the number of bites and dogs left at shelters, and create the ideal relationship between humans and their best friend.

SPA Canada SPA Canada will be pleased to provide media interviews.

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