Suffolk trainer passionate about reducing the number of dog attacks on children

Dog sense session teaching owners and children about dog safety in Glemsford.

Dog sense session teaching owners and children about dog safety in Glemsford. - Credit: Gregg Brown

With experts claiming that dog attacks are on the rise due to increasing ownership and people who mismanage their pets, one Suffolk woman is on a mission to reduce the number of incidents involving children.

There have been several well documented cases in the county over the past year, including one only weeks ago where a boy was attacked by a husky type dog in Spring Lane, Bury St Edmunds while he was out walking with his parents.

In January, a judge ordered that a dog should be destroyed after it ran out of its owner’s home in Great Cornard near Sudbury and bit two neighbours before taking hold of their five-year-old daughter and dragging her along the ground.

Recent statistics have also revealed that the number of dog attack injuries treated at Ipswich Hospital has gone up significantly over the past two years.

But dog trainer Jan Spackman, from Great Waldingfield near Sudbury, believes a lot of the attacks could be avoided or at least minimised if pets were “socialised” at a young age and children were taught how to react during an encounter with an out of control dog.

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She has been working with canines for more than 25 years and last weekend, she organised a free ‘Dog Sense’ workshop in Glemsford aimed at educating children, dog owners and their pets.

She said: “Dogs need to know their place within the family pack – that helps to diffuse a lot of the situations where we see dogs out of control.

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“Also, quite often the attacks happen within our own homes because a dog has been left in a room with a young child or baby unsupervised.

“You can’t possibly trust a dog 100% however much you think you know it because they are still wild animals at heart. You have to be careful that you have the balance right.”

In the workshop, children took part in practical exercises where they were taught how to say a ‘safe hello’ to a dog, which parts of the body they should touch or avoid, and how to protect themselves by adopting certain positions.

Mrs Spackman continued: “We don’t want kids to be scared of dogs but they need to be made aware that situations do sometimes arise and how best to deal with them if they do.

“If one child comes away from a session knowing how to keep themselves safe in a situation where a dog is attacking them, then it is all worthwhile.”

She also wants families to think more about the sort of dogs they are taking on and how they are going to be managed.

She added: “It’s not so much about the breed of dog – in America, surprisingly it’s not Rottweilers or pit bull terriers that are at the top of the dangerous dog list, but Labradors and retrievers. It’s more that any breed needs early socialisation.”

To find out more about Dog Sense sessions, call Mrs Spackman on 01787 379556.

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