Birds fret less around dogs on leads

Australia has some of the strictest dog leashing regulations in the world.

New research from Victoria University has indicated that birds can tell whether a dog is on or off-lead, and if unleashed dogs are well behaved.

In an announcement on September 1, Victoria University said the research suggests leashing dogs could reduce intense fear behaviours of birds, which threatens their survival during breeding, nesting or migrating.

Victoria University researchers Skye Barnett, Dr Roan Plotz, and Dr Wouter van Dongen said the study, while simple in its findings, could help motivate dog owners to follow leash laws.

Australia has some of the strictest dog leashing regulations in the world, and a high rate of dog ownership, with about six million pet dogs in the country, according to the RSPCA.

Dr Plotz said dog leashing in public parks is controversial, with low compliance rates for leash regulations, and a lack of understanding by owners about the dangers their pets pose.

“More people should know there are good reasons to obey leash rules so we can ultimately enhance the way people and birds co-exist,” he said.

The researchers observed the ‘escape responses’ of magpie-larks when confronted by leashed and unleashed dogs in Melbourne parks. Both sets of dogs were walking quietly, close to their owners.

They found the birds walked away from leashed dogs, but flew away from the unleashed dogs.

Researchers from Deakin University also participated in the study.