Dog Trainers,  Industry News,  Lead

Dog attacks child during canine training session

Cambridgeshire Police are investigating after a dog attacked a child at a training class on 11 June in Horseheath, Cambridge.

Reports suggest the child was attending the class for reactive dogs being run by an unnamed training company along with her grandfather Steven, also a dog trainer, when an Anatolian Shepherd that was part of the session attacked her.

The attack only lasted for “a second or two”, according to the grandfather, because he and the trainer leading the class managed to force the dog to let go of the girl.

The girl’s family said on social media that she has broken her arm in two places, has around eight lacerations to the top of her arm, and about four to the underneath. She has since undergone surgery and is now recovering, according to the reports.

Cambridge Police said: “We were called at about 10.20am on Sunday, 11 June, with reports a girl had been bitten by a dog in Linton Road, Horseheath.

“The eight-year-old girl was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

“A crime has been raised for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.”

Speaking to The Canine Times about the incident, Lauren Hewitt-Watts, founder of Dog Mum Mindset and APBC Committee member, said: “Without knowing more details, it can be very hard to say too much about whether this incident and the factors that led to it.

“However,  when running a reactive dog class, the instructor should have the appropriate behaviour knowledge, experience and qualifications to be able to assess each dog and owner, and an assessment should be prior to the class starting. They would need to determine a) whether the dog is suitable for a class environment, b) the level of risk that the dog would bring to a class environment, and c) the handling abilities of each owner.

“Risk assessments should be constantly conducted and owners should be informed how to manage their dogs before they attend the class, whether any equipment such as muzzles is needed, as well as an exit strategy as required. It would be sensible to say that children would not attend any classes where this is any risk of aggression, and lastly to note that classes should not be run in a public place as this heightens the risk to other people in the vicinity.”


  • Ray Ward

    I agree with my colleague Lauren Hewitt – Watts regarding risk assessments but is it enough. In my opinion, no. Risk assessments are a good base line but one would have to go further than a risk assessment.
    Why was a child allowed into a group setting where there are reactive dogs. Is the trainer experienced and knowledgeable enough to take a reactive dog class.
    I can’t comment on this particular case because we don’t have all the facts. Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer unfortunately and it’s about time that was changed.

  • S.Kucinski

    Of course I do feel for the little girl and family, how incredible frightning and stressful this must have been for everyone..
    But , and here is the but…. there should be no such thing as a reactive dog group session, it is a disaster to happen, and it could habe been a lot worse. The trainers should have known better.

  • Emma

    I’ll be interested to see if legal action is taken against the trainer.

    When I run classes or see clients I see it as my responsibility to keep everyone as safe as possible.

    People attending classes are trusting the trainer for safety, and for a solution to their problem. They trust the trainer has insurance, knows the best way to go about things and that what they’re advising is effective and … safe…

    In this case the trainer appears to have failed, on several counts, to provide that.

  • Woofers Positive Dog Training/behaviour consulting

    First off, an Anatolian was not suitable for reactive dog classes. Pet dogs are usually reactive due to fear and anxiety. An Anatolian is a serious livestock guarding breed. This breed is generally afraid of nothing so anxiety and fear would not be the reason for the reactivity. They are bred to take down wolves or bears and protect livestock. They are lso naturally suspicious of strangers and other dogs. These traits have been bred into them for centuries. The “trainer” should have understood how these dogs behave in which case he should have been seeing this client one on one. Secondly the dog should have been wearing a muzzle in public. Third, a child has NO PLACE at a class like this and “trainer should also have known that. Lastly having “classes” for reactive dogs is madness. Putting them all together in close proximity is what those of us who are modern educated trainers would call “flooding” and it has no place in modern science based training. I specialize in reactive dogs, and I’m appalled at how this was allowed to happen. So many red flags in this story. I see all reactive dog clients one on one and work through the anxiety and fear with them in controlled environments. I hope this person who purports to be a trainer decides not to work with dogs again. If he does, in my opinion he needs to get himself far more education before he works as a trainer again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *