ARL: Recognize a Dog’s Aggression Early to Help Prevent Attacks

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Sandra Dee Riggan, the 49-year-old woman, who was attacked by her own dog on Friday, is in the hospital in fair condition and still recovering from her injuries.

Animal Rescue League Animal Control Director Josh Colvin said anytime there is a serious dog bite or attack it is a difficult situation for everyone involved.

"Our job as animal control officers is remove the dog from that situation. So we're going to capture the dog, get the dog contained and then obviously the person is going to be tended to by the paramedics," Colvin said.

Following this attack, the ARL wants dog owners to be aware of the signs of over aggression in a dog.

Dog Behavior Coordinator Cassandra Johnson said these bites and attacks can happen for any number of reasons.

“There’s a lot of things that go into aggression or other behavior issues. It could be something as complicated as genetics, it could lack of socialization, it could be learning history or multiple small or one large traumatic experiences,” Johnson said.

Both Colvin and Johnson said it’s important to recognize signs of aggression early like growling, moving away, over excitement or arousal and extreme anxiety.

"Positive or no force training is going to be the best way to help dogs that have shown those kinds of behaviors. And getting it right away. So if you notice something that's a little different or you don't feel comfortable, seeking that help, as soon as it happens, is going to be the best way to be proactive versus reactive. So we want to catch it as soon as possible," Johnson said.

Colvin said this training and relationship with a dog goes a long way.

“If they are stressed they’re going to be looking to you for guidance: ‘What do I need to be doing?’ That type of thing. That’s a huge one. I always tell people too, when people come over, do that proper introduction. That it’s not okay to growl. It’s not okay to do those behaviors, but we are going to give you treats when you’re happy to see somebody,” Colvin said.

If you are seeing signs of aggression in your dog, call the ARL at 515-262-9503 and they will help you with the best plan as well as training options.

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