The Department for Environment and Water has launched a new advertising campaign aimed at addressing an increasing number of dog attacks on people and other animals.
Led by the Dog and Cat Management Board, the campaign aims to put South Australia at the forefront of responsible pet ownership.
At the heart of the campaign is a simple message - Good dogs have bad days.
The three-month campaign will be promoted through radio, television, outdoor and digital ads featuring advice for both owners and the public. Safety advice brochures will also be sent to the state’s registered dog owners.
To mitigate the risk of dog attacks on humans and other animals, the campaign will provide educational resources for pet owners on effective management techniques.
This includes proper training and socialisation of dogs, as well as increased awareness of how to recognise and respond to warning signs of aggression.
It will focus on the fact the majority of attacks are avoidable if owners and the public exercise dog safety. Statistics from South Australia’s local councils show 71 per cent of attacks happen in a public place.
Dog and Cat Management Board Chairman David Parkin said South Australians loved their dogs, but that people could not be complacent around them.
"Even friendly, well-behaved dogs can become aggressive and bite someone. But there are steps you can take to prevent your good dog having a bad day.
"It’s critical to make people and owners aware of their responsibilities around dogs, which is why we have launched this education campaign.
"This includes urging owners to ensure their homes are secure by closing gates and having appropriate fencing.
"Dogs are much loved but we must understand that any dog can bite, even the family pet we all believe is harmless, for a range of reasons and completely unexpectedly.
"When they do, they can cause a lot of harm."
These incidents are often caused by a lack of understanding of a dog's behaviour, accidental situations, and owners not recognising potential warning signs, all of which highlight the urgent need for increased awareness and education.
The campaign will be overseen by Associate Professor Susan Hazel, Board member and University of Adelaide academic with the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.
Dr Hazel will help evaluate the campaign to ensure its effectiveness in reducing the incidence of dog attacks in South Australia.
Tips for dog owners include:
- Keep your gates shut and yard secure so your dog can’t escape.
- Provide a safe, comfortable space your dog can retreat to when there are people around.
- Never let young children (even family) interact with your dog without you present.
- Show all your visitors how your dog likes to interact.
- Train and socialise your dog as soon as possible.
- Avoid punishment methods that create fear or aggression.
- Not all dogs want to make friends with other dogs. If your dog is happier going solo, keep them under control and away from dog parks.
- If your dog is displaying aggression, see an animal behaviourist or your vet.
Advice for the public includes:
- Always supervise children around dogs at home or in public.
- Do not enter a dog’s territory, like their bed, yard or toy box.
- Never startle a dog.
- Never touch a dog while it’s eating.
- Never disturb a sleeping dog.
- Never put your face near a dog’s face.
- Teach children to always ask owner for permission before approaching a dog.
- Dogs can bite when they’re tired, frightened or annoyed.
- Understand dog body language and the fact that most dogs show specific warning signs – such as growling – before they bite.
Source: Dog and Cat Management Board
*Statistics for 2022-23 will be available in late September.