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Preventing dog attacks in wake of woman’s death and two vicious attacks in Utah

Nov 8, 2023, 10:10 AM

SPANISH FORK — After two vicious dog attacks in two Utah cities just days apart, including one where the victim died, a dog trainer is giving some tips on how to handle aggressive dogs, whether someone is a dog owner or someone is being attacked by an aggressive dog.

At his dog training business Innovative K9 Academy Tuesday, David Broderick worked on training with his 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, Idole. While she’s quick at his command to launch a bite into an arm sleeve, she’s also fast to listen to his verbal cue to stop.

As someone who trains police, protective, sport and military dogs, Broderick knows exactly how to unlock controlled aggression.

He also specializes in teaching owners how to keep aggression and reactivity in check.

“It typically comes from a number of things, but usually from being a puppy and not getting the correct direction and training when they’re very young,” he said, of how a dog can become reactive and aggressive in the first place.

Broderick heard about the two attacks less than a week apart in northern Utah.

One in Taylorsville last week is now responsible for a woman’s death involving seven dogs attacking her in her own backyard. According to Taylorsville police, the dogs belonged to the woman’s son, who also lived at the home.

An adult female and adult male pit bull attacked, along with five puppies that were older than 4 months old. The adult female was shot in the yard to stop the attack, while the other six dogs were put down afterward because they had been involved in a fatal attack.

Taylorsville police said the woman died in the hospital from injuries to her face, hands and leg. Doctors had amputated one of her legs in an attempt to save her life.

On Sunday, three Clinton residents reported being attacked by three loose dogs right outside their homes. Those dogs were also euthanized, one by a man trying to stop the dog from attacking his neighbor, and the others by animal control.

Why dogs attack

The number of dogs, Broderick said, likely escalated the situations and brought out the aggression.

“They were in pack mentality, and dogs always feed off of each other in those situations,” Broderick said.

He explained that one dog alone will act differently if, say, someone knocks on the door. But when it becomes two, three, or five or more dogs, the situation can turn.

“Not only can they start to show aggression towards that person at the door, but they can also show aggression towards each other, attacking each other from the barking, whining, whatever,” he said.

For dog owners, Broderick said training can change those behaviors. He recommended dog owners start by training them not to pull on a leash. He said allowing a dog to pull on a leash creates increasing excitement and pulling them back can frustrate them. It can spiral into negative behaviors from the dog, he indicated.

He tells his clients to avoid harnesses for the same reason because it doesn’t encourage proper leash training.

“The more they pull… that reactivity starts to come out and then they do start to show aggression towards dogs, especially, and then humans,” he said.

Broderick also said dog owners shouldn’t restrict or restrain dogs from their toys, because that can also build energy.

Don’t run from an attack

For anyone who sees a dog charging at them, Broderick said to stand your ground and yell at the dog.

“The worst thing we can do is turn our back to the dog and run away or anything like that,” Broderick said.
When going on a walk in the neighborhood, especially with your own dogs, he suggests carrying a walking stick or something that will protect you if a dog charges or attacks.

“A lot of people use bear spray or pepper spray,” he said. “I have a number of friends that actually take leashes and they put a carabiner on the end, and they make a noise with it by whipping it in a circle.”

If a dog actually attacks, Broderick said keep your own dogs behind you and if intimidation doesn’t work, try to use its collar to choke it out. While yelling while being attacked may get some dogs to stop, he said it’ll make other dogs attack more intensely.

As a dog trainer, he hears about attacks weekly.

“Usually, it’s a bite. They’re typically doing it out of fear,” he said.

Though, he doesn’t hear about attacks like the one in Taylorsville where someone loses their life.

“That’s very rare,” he said. “So, definitely a very unfortunate situation.”

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Preventing dog attacks in wake of woman’s death and two vicious attacks in Utah