A mandatory test before people can get a dog licence would help them understand their pets better, a canine behavioural expert has said.
Nanci Creedon believes the dog theory test, which would be science-based and similar to that for a driver's licence, would reduce the number of dog attacks, while promoting responsible dog ownership.
She told Newstalk Breakfast this is a win-win situation.
"World-wide dog behaviour experts are calling for more education, and to help dog owners understand their dog that little bit better, dispel myths that are out there and implement more dog bite prevention method[s]" she said.
"Doing that through education is the easiest way.
"Mandatory tests for dog licences would mean we're very much getting to the masses.
"At the moment we're preaching on how to take care of your dog correctly, how to do the right things with your dogs.
"The responsible dog owners are listening, but we're not getting to those who aren't currently responsible dog owners.
"Mandatory testing before you get a licence means that no matter what, at least they have the knowledge.
"What they do with it is out of our hands - but by at least getting the right information into the masses, into the nation, is going to make a difference".
'I don't want my kids bitten'
Ms Creedon said this is about responsible dog ownership, but also keeping people safe.
"First and foremost, I'm a mum," she said.
"While people often think, 'Oh here she comes, protecting the breeds and sticking up for the dogs'.
"It's not: I've got two small children, I don't want my kids bitten - I don't want anyone's kids bitten.
"I have so many clients that come to me day in, day out... and the common theme when they leave is, 'Wow, I can't believe I misunderstood my dog so much'".
'How dogs learn'
She said any such theory test would help people understand their dog better.
"Fundamentally the most important thing for people to understand is how dogs learn," she said.
"Quite often people have issues with their dogs, and they try approaches such as if your dog is nervous of other dogs they keep bringing them to the dog park, so that the dog will get over their fear.
"In reality that's just going to amplify that motivation of, 'I feel discomfort, I must display aggressive behaviors to get more space'.
"Understanding canine body language is critical: every single time I hear the statement 'The dog bit out of the blue', I know the dog did not bite out of the blue.
"Dogs will display signals that look like the dog is fine, but to us things like yawning, scratching, sniffing the ground, when it's out of context it's often a sign that whatever just happened was slightly stressful for that dog," she added.
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