SORRY, Ron Halliday (Letters, February 22), but while I agree with you that every dog attack is a tragedy and that the rise in numbers in number of attacks is worrisome, I would like to point out an error in your letter. Dogs are not wild animals. Evidence shows that they were domesticated as long as 130,000 years ago and have co-evolved as human companions ever since.

That a small number of dogs are dangerous I fully accept, and I think it is fair enough to look for ways to prevent such dogs from attacking people or other animals. But we also need to be critical of the statistics here. Dog ownership is on the rise and especially since the start of the pandemic I certainly have experienced a massive increase in the number of dogs that I meet on my daily exercise walks. I am sure the latter is largely the result in a change in people’s daily routines. That does not mean that the proportion of dogs that are aggressive are necessarily on the increase, it may actually be decreasing. But since more people are exposed to dogs, this tragically this means that more dog attacks can happen.

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In almost all cases I find that dogs (and their owners) are extremely well behaved. The very few owners I encounter that have dogs that show some aggression are already fully aware of that trait and certainly where I live those dogs are, with very rare exceptions, already kept on a lead or even muzzled. Unfortunately in most cases where a dog attacks, the owner is to blame. I believe that many such cases the dog was not properly trained or perhaps even mistreated. Or the dog owner does not take any action even though they do know their dog has aggressive traits. But we can’t just start penalising every responsible dog owner for the rise of dog attacks by making them all stick their dogs on a lead.

What would work in my opinion far more effectively is to better educate people on dog behaviour and especially on being able to detect aggressive traits and the responsibility of the owner to properly train the dog when it is still a puppy and to make sure they keep dogs that show traits of aggression on a lead or muzzle them (or both). I also believe we need to take more radical action to eradicate dog abuse and illegal puppy farms, both of which I am sure are a factor in this.

Maarten de Vries

MIGHT I ask Ron Halliday if he has enjoyed lockdown and refrained from ever leaving his house for exercise? And would he be happy and content with this for the rest of his life? This would appear to be what he wishes for dogs for their entire lives.

Granted there are a number of happy and contented “couch potatoes” among human beings, I have yet to come across one amongst dogs. Unless their owners are capable of running many miles with them on a lead – impossible for the huge number of pensioners, disabled etc whose sole company during this terrible year has been their dog – no dog can be exercised enough on a lead at all times. A dog will always run two or three times the distance an owner can walk, and benefits from the stimulation and fraternising with other dogs as well as exercise, which results in a calmer, happier and more sociable pet.

Good owners ensure that they have full control and their dogs are trained to return instantly when called, and in any case put them back on a lead in advance of a potential problem or unknown situation. I myself have owned dogs for almost all my long life and have never had any untoward incident.

P Davidson