The behaviour and thought patterns of man's best friend was the topic of conversation the past weekend as dog behaviour classes were held at Haven Hall.
Representatives from Horsham PAWS, Horsham Dog Obedience Club, local vets and rangers attended the behaviour adjustment training class, which looked in-depth at managing dog aggression.
Horsham PAWS treasurer Onella Cooray attended the day-long class and said the training was essential for managing the dogs the organisation gets through their rehoming program.
"This kind of training is important and relevant to stakeholders. It ensures consistency throughout the community in first recognising what kind of reactive behaviours might be presented and aiming to correct it," Ms Cooray said.
"The goal was to equip rescue organisations to be able to better work with reactive dogs and train them to overcome those negative behaviours."
The day was split into two, with the first half of the class covering theory and the latter featuring a practical lesson with dogs from the Horsham Dog Obedience Club.
The group was shown how dogs can display aggression and stress differently and how to read animal body language.
"One of the key things that I took away is that just because it is wagging its tail does not mean it is happy and relaxed. There are different types of tail wagging," Ms Cooray said.
"I think that is something you commonly hear after a dog has been in a fight or acted aggressively, that because a dog is wagging its tail means it is happy.
"That is something people need to understand, that there are different types of tail wagging and not all of them are the same."
Ms Cooray said now the training had been provided to Horsham's animal rescue groups, the knowledge could be passed on to dog owners, improving the community's awareness of dog behaviour.
"In Horsham, we do get a lot of 'bully breeds' that get surrendered. Often times we don't know what their background is and they'll end up in the pound," Ms Cooray said.
"Often, you have owners who might have had the best intention but have bought a breed not being aware of the needs and personality of the breed and didn't do the appropriate training for that breed.
"Through this kind of awareness and training, we are hoping that owners take the time to understand animal behaviour, understand that it is complex, it is not just about getting a puppy and the puppy knows everything."
Ms Cooray said owning and training a dog was an "ongoing relationship" and hoped owners across the Wimmera would think about whether the animals they buy are the right fit for them.
The behaviour adjustment training course was funded by the Victorian government's Animal Welfare grants program.
Horsham PAWS and the Horsham Dog Obedience Club applied for funding under the grant program in 2019.
Ms Cooray said the group was looking for volunteers to participate in its foster care program, shop front or fundraising events.
"We are always happy to hear from people. It is a lot of work, it is hard work, and the more hands we have the lighter it makes it," Ms Cooray said.
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