Training Dogs The Irish Way

by Julie Deforest

One of Bethel Island’s newest residents is Dan Irish, a consultant on dog behavior and dog bite prevention. Irish moved to the Island four months ago from Concord, where he works as a maintenance supervisor at Blanchi Schools.

For the past seven years, Irish, 35, has trained and demonstrated attack dog techniques for police departments in the area. Recently, Irish has expanded his area of instruction to include dog bite prevention, inspiring his company name “No-Bite”. He plans to work with public utilities and post office workers to help decrease their chances of being bitten by a dog in the course of their work.

During a recent demonstration for PacBell workers, 80 employees participated to learn more about avoiding the hazards of dog bites.

“If people understand what makes them tick,” says Irish, “they’ll have less trouble dealing with them.”

Irish points out that most dogs reach the mentality of about a three-year-old, but even with domestication, a dog’s instinct is still dominant.

“Since we’ve domesticated them they no longer have to hunt,” he says. Because of this, dogs may bite during the course of play simply because it is their nature to do so.

“A lot of people train their dogs to bite without even knowing it.”

Irish has a set of rules to avoid problems that are simple and filled with common sense.

According to Irish the DON’TS are as follows:

1) Don’t tease. Many children are injured while playing with the family dog by holding a favorite toy our of reach or working the into a frenzy over nothing.

2) Dont step on tales or toes.

3) Never bother an animal while it is eating.

4) Never bother mothers with puppies. Most animals are extremely protective at this time.

5) Don’t disturb dogs that are chained up or are waiting in their owner’s cars. Frustration from confinement can cause dogs to bite suddenly.

6) When approaching a stray, do not pet the animal on the head. Do pet them on the chin and neck so the animal can see your hands.

7) Don’t run away or yell suddenly when approached by a stray. Stand still and allow the dog to sniff your hands.

8) Never put your face at the level of the dog’s face.

Irish hopes that his program will help decrease the number of dog bites reported each year in Contra Costa County and hopes to expand his work into the rest of the western states.

His work is acknowledged by top veterinarians in the state and Irish is confident the call for his services will increase as more people realize that dog bites are a preventable occurrence.