As of last weekend (December 31), laws were introduced to muzzle the American Bully XL or ‘XL Bully’ and keep the dogs on a lead. It will also be illegal to breed, sell and abandon these dogs.
Owners of an XL Bully have less than four weeks (until February 1) to apply for an exemption certificate to keep their dogs or face potential criminal proceedings and an unlimited fine.
The dogs, which are described as ‘large’, ‘strong’, ‘muscular’ and with a ‘blocky head’, are being added to the Government’s list of banned breeds following a rise in dog attacks over recent years.
Until 2021 there were about three deaths a year, but there have since been 23 involving the breed.
Various animal organisations oppose breed-specific legislation, including Dogs Trust, and the British Veterinary Organisation. Both campaign for owners to be educated and to seek dog training in order to prevent attacks.
One such trainer of the XL Bully is Tunbridge Wells-based Dorka Tomankova, a dog trainer who has previously worked in zoos and circuses in the Czech Republic and includes bears, tigers and lions in her coaching repertoire.
Dorka has received seven XL Bully requests since the ban was announced on September 15, and she thinks well-bred dogs that are ‘properly trained and socialised’ are not dangerous.
She said: “Sadly, the sudden popularity of XL Bullys has led to overbreeding, often ending up in unsuitable homes.
“They require patience, consistency, time, confidence and a bit of experience from their owners and sometimes the guidance of a dog-training professional.”
Dorka, who is currently training two XL Bullies, believes the ban ‘might be a short-sighted solution to a much larger problem of overbreeding and insufficient dog-training skills and education.’
She added: “There is a small percentage of dogs in any breed that are more prone to aggression due to poor breeding or health-associated issues. However the majority of the problems we see today stem from the lack of appropriate education.
“Using reputable dog trainers from the moment people make the decision to bring a four-legged companion into their family can help eliminate many of the problems we see today.”
Dorka believes the key to success with any breed of dog is to be ‘proactive’ in order to ‘prevent bad habits from forming in the first place’.
She explained: “I would like to encourage anyone who is considering adding a new furry friend to their family, to find a good dog trainer who really understands the science behind what affects a dog’s learning well before their puppy arrives.
“Being proactive about our new dog’s education can prevent bad habits from forming in the first place and make the journey towards a well-mannered furry companion much easier.”
To contact Dorka for dog training services visit aledok9.co.uk