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Animal behaviourist warns parents with pets ‘to get help early’ after rise in dog attacks

Nanci says that “as a dog behaviourist and a mum,” recent news of an uptick in attacks has been difficult to hear

Nanci Creedon.

Dog Behaviour Expert Nanci Creedon.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Ireland’s leading dog behaviour expert has warned parents of misbehaving pets to “get help early” following a rise in dog attacks.

A four-year-old girl was tragically killed by a dog in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, just months after the high-profile and horrific mauling of nine-year-old Alejandro Mizsan in Wexford.

Dog behaviour consultant Nanci Creedon says there has been an increase in hospitalisations and deaths caused by dog attacks in recent years.

"Us dog behaviour experts feel so powerless against the drastic increase in fatal, and near fatal, dog attacks that are happening in recent times,” she said.

"We have the knowledge and skills to help educate the nation to help them see the early warning signs that a bite may be imminent, but we are not reaching the masses, and the frustration I feel makes me almost jittery.”

The dog behaviourist warns that parents should not wait until they are “sick” of their pooch’s poor behaviour before taking action.

"It is harder to change when certain behaviours have been practiced a lot. A dog behaviour expert can help, but the sooner you get there the better,” she adds.

Dog Behaviour Expert Nanci Creedon.

The dog population has grown in the last few years and lockdown has brought on many behavioural problems for new and old pets, Nanci told

“People are also paying more attention to so-called dog ‘experts’ on social media who are uneducated and unqualified to give advice.”

Nanci has also slammed the idea that some dog breeds are “dangerous,” ruling: “There are no dangerous dog breeds, scientifically there is no such thing.

"Any breed specific trait is a dog specific trait.

"If a country has the highest homicide rate in the world. Obviously, that doesn’t mean all people from that country will kill you.”

Nanci add that just because a pitbull or husky has acted a certain way, does not mean they all will – or another breed of dog won’t.

"It is dangerous to push the idea that specific breeds are dangerous when really, the problem is situational.”

In the aftermath of a dog bite, she says, the questions should be what happened beforehand, including how the dog was raised or how it has been treated in the past.

Nanci adds that “as a dog behaviourist and a mum,” recent news of an uptick in attacks has been difficult to hear.

"To the parents out there who are now looking at their pet dogs and worrying, ‘will the same happen in their home?’ I say to you: Don’t panic. Your dog has not turned into a shark over night.”

She advises: “Spend the money. Speak to an expert about any areas of concern you have.

"Let them see how your dog and child interact together. Address any issues where your dog may experience heightened emotions.

"Please only hire qualified experienced dog trainers and behaviourists who use positive pain-free and intimidation-free methods.

"And remember punishment-based training is shown to increase aggression, so just because someone claims to be a dog trainer, if they need to frighten, hurt, or intimidate your dog to do what they want, walk away.”

The dog behaviour expert is set to host a free webinar for parents on the warning signs too look out for when a pet may bite.

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