Why are dogs getting such a negative press?

Liz Mahony is an experienced Dog Trainer and Holistic Therapist for all animals. In her monthly column, Liz aims to promote mutual respect between carer and dog.  Contact Liz at

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably noticed that there seems to be a growing anti-dog wave in the country at the moment. It’s been lurking there for a couple of years but now dog owners are frowned on and penalised in public places especially on beaches.

Prohibiting dog owners on beaches except at certain times is now universal here especially during the summer months. And Dog Wardens have been enforcing this by insisting that dogs must be on leads at all times. The purpose of taking a dog to a beach is to allow it the freedom to run off lead, socialise with other dogs, go swimming or chase a ball. As they exercise, they obviously stop to pee and poop so the Dog Wardens insist that dogs must be kept on lead to ensure owners are on the spot to pick up the poop!

Most owners are meticulous about picking up after their dogs. However, there are always some who just leave it lying around any place they are walking so the majority get penalised by the minority. 

To me, it seems really harsh to take away such a wonderful amenity. It almost feels like discrimination. It appears that other groups in society want the beaches to themselves. Dog walkers maintain that many other types of visitors to beaches also leave their litter behind them but that’s not a valid argument either. Two wrongs don’t make a right! 

But, the apparent discrimination has seeped into other areas of dog owners’ lives. If you look on the websites advertising rental properties, apart from the lack of choice (which is another problem!), there is a Strictly No Dogs rule on most of those houses for rent. It’s bad enough trying to find a property in these difficult times without having the selection narrowed even further.

How did we come to this? I certainly don’t know the full answer but I wonder if Covid has exacerbated this problem, as during lockdown, so many people got a dog because it was the first time they could actually devote a portion of the day to them in addition to wanting companionship. Perhaps it’s that huge increase in the number of dogs seen around that has been a negative influence.

I wonder also whether the problem lies in the fact that many of these dogs are under-socialised because we, ourselves, were limited in our own social activities. And many dog owners during this time had never had a dog before so the normal basic training wasn’t done. Now that life has opened up, it could be that some dogs may not have a clue how to behave in public and their owners may be allowing them too much licence around other people.

What really worried me about this dilemma was an interview I listened to on the radio a few weeks ago. It definitely had an anti-dog bias to it. But, I was floored when the interviewee postulated that dogs were the cause of the spread of Japanese Knotweed. She didn’t elaborate on this premise. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought it was humans who imported this dreadful plant and are responsible for its alarming spread!

However, in my opinion, we need to find a solution to this problem before it gets even worse and dogs and their owners are banned from every walk of life. I would like to put a suggestion out there. Since lockdown I didn’t restart my regular basic obedience classes, as I preferred to avoid exposure to the virus in a closed setting. Also, I seem to get such great results with one-to-one sessions in home visits.

But, my suggestion is that dog owners, who would like some basic obedience tips or training and help with socialisation, get in touch and give me your thoughts and ideas. Perhaps we can get together and improve this situation by showing the public that we are a responsible and caring branch of society. I think we need to do it before it’s too late.

If you’re interested, then get in touch with me through my website below and let’s pool our ideas to come up with a solution to teach our dogs to be COOL CANINES! I mean that we can teach our dogs to go anywhere with us and behave politely under any circumstances. I look forward to your thoughts. 

WCP Staff

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