Over the last couple of years, the RSPCA has been contacted by a number of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs).
Many have expressed their concerns over the increasing number of young people they encounter with what they feel is an irresponsible attitude towards dog ownership.
Many YOTS suggested that this increase was related to the fashion of owning ‘status dogs’. That is,
“…the ownership of dogs that are used by individuals to intimidate and harass members of the public. These dogs are traditionally, but not exclusively, associated with young people on inner city estates and those involved in criminal activity…” – Defra public consultation on dangerous dogs, March 2010
So when it came to developing groundbreaking resources to help young people address the problem of status dogs and animal cruelty in general, we knew who to talk to.
YOT workers told us what types of activities and language their clients would respond to and, with their guidance, we set about developing a brand new set of activities earlier this year for them to use with young people.
To complement these activities, we now have eight new facilitation guides which deal with the most important issues relating specifically to young people and dogs:
- Motivations for owning a dog explores the young person's motivations for owning - or wanting to own - a dog.
- Encouraging responsible dog ownership develops an understanding of the complex needs of dogs and how to choose and breed dogs responsibly. It also explains how professionals train their dogs using reward-based training and encourages young people to train their dogs in a positive manner.
- Dogs and the law helps the young person to develop an understanding of the laws relating to dogs and to recognise their legal responsibilities as a dog owner.
- Consequences of irresponsible dog ownership uses real-life case studies to explore what the consequences might be of having an aggressive dog or a dog with the potential to be aggressive.
All our facilitation guides can be used in isolation, or as part of a bigger scheme of work. Advice and information on complementary activities is available on each facilitation guide.
You may also find our interactive resource, Breaking the chain, useful when working with a young person who has committed, or who is at risk of committing, an act of cruelty.