As a veterinary surgeon, I am often approached to give my approval of some new product or technique. More often than not I politely decline, aghast at the principle or theory behind the idea. It was therefore with a sense of trepidation that I agreed to read and then comment on Sylvia's book on how to deal with dog attacks.

Happily, it is a book where commonsense prevails. It debunks the myths and exposes the old wives' tales that cause me so much hassle and grief in my daily duties at work. I have long realised, as a woman vet, that brute force and confrontation are rarely; if ever, the correct way to interact with any animal - large or small. Greater success is usually achieved by understanding how my patient is interpreting the situation and playing by pack rules, along with a liberal dose of blarney and bribery by way of treats.

Many euthanasias on dogs are due in no small part to the human at the other end of the lead completely misreading the situation and expecting their beloved pet to be beyond reproach. I often hear owners who say their dog is wonderful with kids and would never bite. But all dogs, given the right set of circumstances, will bite and we have a duty to be aware of those situations and avoid the unnecessary stress to the pet and grief to ourselves.

Sylvia's book goes a long way to informing us of those situations, how to avoid them where possible and what to do should we find ourselves in an attack situation.

Bite Busters makes excellent and easy reading and is a must for vet students and nurses, meter readers, dog owners and anyone who comes into regular contact with dogs. Empowered with an alternative view to some of the current theories on dog control, readers will enjoy a safer and more rewarding daily interaction with their four-legged friend.

Just remember, as Sylvia says, humans smack with their hands, dogs smack with their mouths, and while we may fail to be consistent in our application of the laws of the pack, our beloved pet will not.

Aine Seavers MRCVS, MVB