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How to stay safe if you encounter an aggressive dog


With the weather warming up, more people are getting outdoors with their pets.

With that, the City of Saskatoon has issued a reminder about bite prevention during encounters with dogs, and some experts are weighing in with important tips.

David Magnussen is a dog behaviourist and has been doing it for most of his life.

He sees the city’s public service announcement as an important reminder for residents and adds, it’s important to understand where responsibility lies.

“It’s foundationally the dog owners, the dogs definitely are reflective of their owners,” said Magnussen, owner of Canine Connections.

The city is specifically targeting bite prevention in their latest information, and according to University of Saskatchewan dog behaviour researcher Karen Machin, children and elderly folks are most at risk.

“The largest bite risk is to children and older people because young children and older people, their behavior changes a little bit,” Machin told CTV News.

Children ages five to 10 pose the biggest concern.

“They are loud, unpredictable and they manhandle. Older people not so much, but they move differently, and children move differently, and dogs, especially if they haven’t been around that, struggle with that,” she says.

Magnussen says dog owners need to do their job by regulating and balancing their dog’s energy and being calmly in charge.

“When you’re going for walks, you’re going to have a dog that knows how to live in the environment, but it starts in the home,” she said.

The city website talks about strategies if a dog is approaching and may seem aggressive - important guidelines according to this expert.

“You just be a tree — stand still, and if they come up and sniff, don’t try to interact with them, hopefully the owner is close and calling their dog,” she said.

In a scenario where you have a dog, Machin advises to try not to let your dog be exposed to the aggressive animal. If yours is a small dog — hold them, but remain calm.

A recent fatal dog attack in Edmonton where a boy was killed in a house with two large dogs has caught the interest of many, and makes the city’s advice all the more timely.

There are many factors as to why dogs attack, and Magnussen reiterates the need for proper training. He admits he doesn’t know much about the Edmonton attack, but says keeping dogs cooped up with no energetic outlet could contribute to extra aggression.

According to Magnussen, dogs can be trained at any age and a good step is to speak to an expert.

The city’s website also has information on what to do if a dog bites you. Top Stories

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