Almost all dogs are potentially dangerous, and all dogs can be a nuisance (The American bully XL furore is a stark reminder of the uneasy bond between dogs and humans, 14 September). Yet dogs can be an absolute joy to have around. The difference is not in the breed of dog but the behaviour of the owners. A responsible and knowledgable owner ensures a well-trained dog. The problem is that there is no requirement for dog owners to have any knowledge at all.
One solution would be a dog licence, issued only after passing a test to show you know how to keep a dog. This would operate in a similar way to a driving test, and dog owners would be given penalty points for poor dog behaviour, or even have their licence taken away for serious offences, such as biting.
Knowing that your licence could be taken away could help to prevent all sorts of problems, including dog attacks, noisy dogs, poo bags being left everywhere etc. It would also make for happier dogs. Being pack animals, they are happiest when they know their place, and confused and nervous when they get mixed signals.
The test and the licence should be reasonably priced so as not to exclude anyone on the grounds of cost, and existing dog owners should be given a reasonable amount of time to comply with the new rules.
I believe this approach would be welcomed by responsible dog owners, who see irresponsible owners giving everyone a bad name. Irresponsible owners may well object, but it should be remembered that they are in possession of a potentially dangerous and possibly lethal weapon.