Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Let's Talk About Dog Aggression

Dog aggression - or, dog-intolerance as we like to call it - is a hot topic whenever pit bulls come up in a conversation. Aren't they a dog aggressive breed? Well, some individuals can the same way that people can be violent. Some of us are nasty bastards, ready to pummel loved ones or the guy who offends by stealing the last parking space. You know the type.

Maybe the warrior types had a bad upbringing, or maybe they have mean genes, or a combo of both. Your guess is as good as mine...

Thankfully, most of us are better at biting our tongues and kicking the wall instead of our co-workers. Although let's admit it - many of us enjoy amping ourselves up by watching violence. We scream and yell and jump out of our stadium seats like a leash-reactive dog spittin' fire at his neighbor. Woo! Get'em!...Hollering is such a gratifying way to charge up a life-affirming adrenalin rush. Yep, many unschooled dogs would agree.

I have a theory that some people despise pit bulls (usually, without actually having met one) because the dogs mirror us so faithfully: Our very best sides, our most outrageous sides, and in the case of the naysayers, the side of us that can be lured into battle. We are them; they are us.

At the end of the day, most of us learn to manage our hot-buttons and to suppress our warrior instincts so we can enjoy a quieter, happier life. Same is true for dogs. Especially those with good (human) parents.

Before you assign dog aggression to any one breed, take this quiz and fill in the blanks.

Which breed is being described? Link to the source of the quotes to find your answers. I think you'll be surprised.

Dog Aggression Quiz: Name the Breed

1. __X__ are often aggressive with other dogs. Same-sex aggression and aggression towards other breeds of dogs is well documented with this __X__. It is strongly recommended that no more than two __X__ (of opposite sex only) ever be permitted to stay together unattended.

2. They require a great deal of socialization as puppies, and obedience training is very important as __X__ are dominant dogs and tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, especially of the same sex.

3.When it comes to other dogs, however - especially dogs of the same sex - __X__ are not so likely to get along without incident. Dog aggression seems most common among females, although un-neutered males can also fight. Once two __X__ have had an argument, it's never over. They hold a grudge, and they will be enemies forever and can't be trusted to be together.

4.__X__are often aggressive with other dogs, for pretty much the same reasons. They tend to be picky about their friends and pack and not really like anyone who isn't part of their normal circle.

5. Some __X__ are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.

6. Some __X__ also exhibit considerable aggression toward other dogs, and prospective owners must be willing to socialize and train their terriers to curb this tendency.

Hmm. Will the real pit bull please stand up?

For info on creating healthy dog-dog interactions:

Living Peaceably in a Multi-Dog Home
Understanding Dog Tolerance Levels
Socializing Tips
Monitoring Dog-Dog Interactions


Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! I love the quiz!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I actually had a training class where a fellow student praised me on how gentle my Pit/Am. Bulldog mix was so gentle while her Jack Russell was willing to attack any dog that got near it. I was so happy to hear an owner acknowledge her dogs faults that I wanted to run up and hug her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the education and focus on the potential dog aggression of other breeds besides Pit Bulls. I mostly work with Pit Bulls but I do work with other breeds. This experience has taught me that ALL breeds of dogs have the capability of becoming dog aggressive OR they may not. It's just an individual thing. It's so important not to make dog aggression a "Pit Bull only" behavior as other breeds may manifest this behavior or they may not. My Chi mix has one of the worst cases of dog aggression I've seen. If an owner thinks his breed is not dog aggressive by nature then his dog won't get the good training he/she needs and therefore get into trouble. All dog owners need to be aware, responsible for and watch for changes in their dog's level of tolerance of other dogs as he/she matures.They are canines before they are a breed. Thank you for this blog! This is such and important issue in the canine world.

Mary said...

What a great article! I have seen this so often both at the shelter and out in the world that aggression in other breeds seems to be discounted. Thank you thank you thank you for this great education!!


Jan said...

Good post.

My tiny Poodles and mixed breed dogs have been systematically decimating the magpie population in this area. We have had a summer of carnage. But I've never seen Poodles on any breed legislation.

Anonymous said...

First of all, the picture of the child is priceless. He looks like a real winner, just waiting to grow up and become ?????.

Secondly, the quiz. I guessed the JRT right off, but didn't get the others. When people moan about the fact that if they get an American Pitbull Terrier, they won't be able to take him(her) to the dog park, I usually ask? "When was the last time you saw a Jack Russell Terrier at a dog park? Or ANY of the terrier group, for that matter?" These are feisty dogs, generally. Sure you will have laidback dogs within every breed group and you will have some that follow the breed 'norm'. This is why it's so important to treat and evaluate every dog as an individual.

I'm getting more and more frustrated. Today in a poor section of Philadelphia, 17 pitbulls were seized in an illegal ring.

I fear that Michael Vick is now going to be responsible for even more copycat-type of crimes.

This is why this blog is so important to me; this and my two bullies are where I can take solace...but sometimes, even that is not enough.

Dina from Philadelphia (in the Labrador neighborhood)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I get so sick of "pit bull" people stereotyping the dogs as the only breed to ever show dog aggression and that EVERY pit bull will eventually turn dog aggro. If "pit bull" people consider the dogs some mutent breed unlike any other - why would we expect the general public not to do the same?

Re Dog Parks: Just because your dog may not be suitable for a dog park does not mean you get to shirk your duty to socialize it!

Anonymous said...

Excellent usual!

Love, love, love the "pile-o-pit bulls" picture too!

Anonymous said...

Just hung up the phone with a friend who has a Jack Russell Terrier....woman approaches with a nice big Great Pyrenees.....her JRT rolling on the ground...'oh can't my doggie play with yours?' My friend, well no, she's really not friendly to other dogs....other person persists...JRT grabs the Great Pyrenees by the throat....

All in a day on the Avenue....

Dina from the Labrador neighborhood in Philadelphia

Donna said...

Ouch Dina!

The Doggy Denial factor is such a headache. I can't fathom why people insist on believing that all dogs should 'make nicey nice' and be best friends. It's not realistic. Never has been, never will be.

Anonymous said...

I'm referring lots of friends to this one!

(I really like the comment stating:
"They are canines before they are a breed"
Good quote).