'You don't get a dog to throw it in the backyard'

Instructor Dirk Littooy has been training seven-year-old Raffles to assist in SES rescue operations. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Instructor Dirk Littooy has been training seven-year-old Raffles to assist in SES rescue operations. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Drik Littooy firmly believes you can teach an old dog new tricks.

An Illawarra-based dog trainer with 30 years' experience, Mr Littooy said the recent spike in dog attacks was because people bought dogs without committing to ongoing training.

"People buy dogs for the wrong reason and just lock them in the backyard," he said. "You've got to have a purpose with your dog - you don't just buy it to throw it in your backyard. This is where people go wrong."

There have been two cases of dogs attacking people in the Illawarra in recent weeks.

On Friday, July 11, a man in his 70s was bitten on the leg by a dog in Flinders. The previous Tuesday, a boy, 10, was viciously attacked by a German shepherd and a Staffordshire terrier cross in Waley Avenue, Bellambi.

Mr Littooy owns three German shepherds and a border collie. One of the shepherds, a seven-year-old named Raffles, has starred in movies and has been trained to assist with State Emergency Service rescue operations.

Mr Littooy said there were no bad breeds, only bad dog owners.

"People create the problems, dogs don't create the problems," he said. "In the 30 years I've been doing this, I have yet to meet a born-vicious dog.

"A happy dog is a trained dog."

Mr Littooy said another factor contributing to dog attack statistics was people who did not allow members of the public access to their front door.

"If you have dogs, you've got to fence them off and give access to the meter reader, the postman," he said.

"The public have to have access to the front door - it's the law."

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