Aggressiveness in Dogs

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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby Magali » March 3rd, 2012, 5:33:40 pm

TxCat wrote:
Magali wrote:i agree with Cesar Milan. Dogs are dogs, not humans and should be treated accordingly as animal first, then dog, then breed and THEN name, as possible.


You should consider reading the input of other animal trainers --- there are some on this thread --- before citing Cesar Milan as a good example. Some of what he does to the animals I would consider abuse, plain and simple. Dragging an animal into a place it does not want to go will not build trust and will not make it want to go there. It will simply reinforce whatever fears it has and possibly accelerate the aggression.

Dogs bite or snap for a variety of reasons, including fear and warning. On that account you're correct; they're not people and their actions shouldn't be anthropomorphised. On the other hand, the owner is NOT a dog and should not be trying to act like one. Simple respect for the animal's reactions and an attempt to understand why the animal is behaving that way goes a long way toward having a reliable and enjoyable companion.

Merlin is not a dog, he's a bobcat hybrid but...recently when we would reach over to pet him, he started extending his claws, hissing, and trying to bite. Eventually, through watching the animal's actions, we figured out that he could no longer see us well enough to determine whether or not something was a thread if we just reached across his back and petted him. When we gave him an opportunity to smell us coming and to make a bit of noise, such as clicking, directed at the animal to get his attention, we had no bites and no scratching.

This works really well with older dogs who are going blind or have gone blind as well.

It also illustrates the point: before you decide you have an aggressive dog or a bad dog, make the effort to find out why the dog's behavior changed.



i did not say i agreed with ALL of his philosophies. simply the statement that i wrote above. And i do not agree with everything he does. i also adhere to many things victoria stillwell teaches as well as the lady who wrote No Bad Dogs back in the day as well as the dog trainer i used when i got my dog.

However! I do believe Cesar Milan is right about a lot of things. That is my personal belief and i do believe i am entitled to believe it.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby TxCat » March 4th, 2012, 9:06:18 am

Magali wrote:i did not say i agreed with ALL of his philosophies.


Maybe it's because I'm older than most people on this site but to me, if a trainer is willing to employ some philosophies which are harmful to the animal he cannot be trusted at all. Especially in the case of aggressive dogs, you really don't want to instigate more aggression. The man, in my eyes, is an animal abuser and he only gets away with it in the name of training. There are lots of other training methods out there which do not abuse the animal and, since a trainer is also an investment and investment means money, I tend to vote with my pocket book (that is, not give money to trainers and organizations whose methods are questionable.

I did not say that you agreed with all of his philosophies; I suggested that you might want to look at the other information offered in the thread. Not only are there recommendations for other measures which help aggressive dogs but we are lucky enough to have members of MS who do this for a living. One of them studies and works under a well known trainer with an extremely good reputation. It's always wise to take advantage of the wealth of wisdom and knowledge offered by a community. You might find something that works better than what you've been doing or the answer to a particularly stubborn aggressive behavior.

For me, aggressive methods against an aggressive dog have never worked. The dog simply learned that I was one more thing to be feared or challenged. Again, I reason that as I am not a dog I have no real hope of establishing myself as alpha dog. The dog wouldn't buy it and neither did I. Instead I worked on removing the things which caused aggressive reactions and positively reinforcing the animal's behavior when aggression was declined over more favorable distractions. There are some things that particular dog still will not put up with; male visitors have to remove their ball caps and leave them behind if they wish to interact with her and under no circumstances do we ever let small children under the age of twelve near her. This also means there are some places she just can't go, like parks and dog parks, but the idea for us was to make an environment where the dog felt safe and could behave properly. She's even learned to wait for her food; she used to attack whoever was feeding her in order to get to the food dish.

That is my personal belief and i do believe i am entitled to believe it.


Speaking as moderator now. No one said that you were not entitled to it, but in a forum like this you must understand that people will challenge your personal beliefs and will offer up their own in return. That's the nature of the discussion. Just as you are entitled to make those statements, others are allowed to challenge them, refute them, add to them, and disagree with them. If you're not here to engage in that kind of dialog and sharing, you might want to reconsider whether this is the place for you. The Pop Sicle Stand will also let you state your beliefs and you're a lot less likely to have someone challenge them.

-- TxCat, Moderator HoS
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant. Harlan Ellison

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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby GingerFang » March 4th, 2012, 3:11:54 pm

Many dogs are misjudged, or misunderstood, or abused because of the belief that they are aggressive, and therefore are not suited to living with,around, or near humans, and should be banned, and or destroyed. I believe that even if a breed/dog is bred to be aggressive, and mean, first off most of those dogs have also been bred to be loving/caring towards humans. Secondly that dog's behavior will greatly depend on how it grew up, and it's socialization, while it was young. So if a dog is not socialized good enough, or badly treated when it was young, it will most likely be a nervous wreck, which could make then be in flight-or-fight mode almost 24/7; especially if they are in a strange environment (shelter/pound).If they use fight they are deemed aggressive, and unsuited for human companionship. If they use flight, they are given a better chance of getting a human companion, but it is still slim. I also believe that any responsible owner or breeder would train,treat, and socialize their dog(s) properly. On the subject of aggressive breeds, PEOPLE ARE PREJUDICE! Just because it looks mean,or looks like or is a "bad" breed doesn't mean it IS. Many people I think though only believe these things because they are either ignorant,or under informed(about that breed). I would never call myself an expert on dogs, dog breeds, or dog behavior, but experience, and research have told me many things that I believe, or know are true.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby anatomicallycorrect » April 7th, 2012, 7:28:15 pm

Aggressiveness is not genetic or the dogs intentional choice. It is determined by the incompetence of the owner/the abusiveness of the owner/or former traumatic situation. A dogs aggression is a response to a situation or energy (of a person/animal) that is not stable which causes the dog to lash out. If the aggression is not handled correctly it will be very difficult to control and will continue and worsen. Punishment, though, is not the answer. Consult a professional if there is concern and always question your own dog handling. Also, the breed is surely not the determining factor of aggression. FOR SURE.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby Trancekitsune » April 11th, 2012, 4:01:30 am

Oh, this thread...

Ok, first off, I'd like to say that I've volunteered at shelters, helped dogs get adopted, handled mistreated pooches, and helped with many problems with animals.

I might also be biased because I'm looking to be a zoologist.

I've heard some arguments from people that say dogs are BRED a certain way, it's in their GENES.

Bullcrap- hunting vermin is in some dogs, herding in others, retrieving with some- but being aggressive is hard to place- you have to look at the possible reasons of why they are doing these things.

I worked with a Sharpei named Ben- scared, frightened- easily spooked. He'd JUST gotten out of rehabilitation (To help bring him back from abuse, and help his behavior and his views- he just didn't like humans for a while and I don't blame him), and the group I was with was trying to get him adopted to the right family. Finally, we found the NICEST couple we could find, and they come near Ben and he's a little shy in his crate. Usually, while papers are being worked, we'll have someone walk the dog around, get some stress and excitement out- but neither of them wanted it, so one of the team went to do it for them- opened the crate and Ben practically FLEW through the store and under the nearest truck- hiding. I was one of the first ones on the scene and... I still wish this could have happened some other way. Ben was cowering and the owner of the truck was a farmer- had noticed the commotion and came running. To get him out from under the car safely for US and for HIM- I had to distract him by getting on the other side of the truck and getting him to focus on me while the farmer managed to lasso him- not just the neck- we didn't want him to get winded- but around one of his front legs too. We had to pull him out, and by that time, he was so frightened, he... deficated. By that time, the potential owners were shocked and wanted nothing more.

So he had to go BACK to rehabilitation ALL OVER AGAIN. Poor dog.

Also, I had a dog in my care in that same group, named Channel, who was a BEAUTIFUL blue pitbull. She was the NICEST DOG. She had been abused for most of her life- she was a breeding dog. One time, she refused to mate, and they locked her in her crate for THREE DAYS without food or water- she ate the carpeting in her crate. They dumped her off at the vet's after they learned how much surgery would cost- they wanted nothing of it. A good person who was in the waiting room paid for it instead, as well as neutering. She took care of Channel for a while, but the original owners came back, wanting their breeding dog back, and tried to sue her for damaging their goods- making it impossible for her to breed. She got left with my group.

She could have been mean. She could have bitten and been aggressive... but she wasn't.

She DIED two days after we got her adopted- refused to eat or drink... she had been perfectly healthy, but from what we know, our best guess was that she missed her owners, after all they did to her, she still missed them.

I LOVED that dog, if I could have, I would have taken her in. I wish I could have.

It's not the dog, it's the people.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby TxCat » April 11th, 2012, 9:19:01 am

Trancekitsune wrote:Bullcrap- hunting vermin is in some dogs, herding in others, retrieving with some- but being aggressive is hard to place- you have to look at the possible reasons of why they are doing these things.


Agreed. I think people are not differentiating between destructive/non productive behaviors and true aggression. Aggression is a learned response, as far as I have been able to see, and can be trained out of the animal with the proper techniques and patience. Destructive and non productive behaviors happen when a particular breed is not allowed to fulfill its purpose. That is why responsible owners who have such dogs often engage them in activities such as obstacle courses, agility trials, and other competitions. If the dog's innate abilities are not used in some manner, they become bored and destructive. This goes for guarding behavior as well; if you own a guarding breed, such as a bullmastiff or an American Eskimo, then it is imperative that you teach the dog good manners and teach the dog when it's okay to guard and when to knock it off.

She could have been mean. She could have bitten and been aggressive... but she wasn't.


I have two dogs like that. Anubis was dumped out of a moving car at a very young age. He had a broken tail and broken ribs which never healed properly. It took forever to convince this guy that humans were a good thing...and now he's my new service dog. He's a little past prime for the larger working animals --- almost seven years old --- but he does the work and he loves it. In this case, it's an advantage that he avoids humans because that means he cannot be distracted from the work he was trained to do.

The other, Daisy, is a beloved pet. She's some sort of hound/pit bull mix. Someone dumped her out of a moving vehicle and into the swamp. I waded in to get her; they'd weighted the plastic bag she was in and she nearly drowned. This dog wasn't even old enough to be weaned but we managed to save her. Friendliest dog ever, not a drop of aggression in her body. You would think, after what she'd been through, that she would hate humans but this little gal adores playing with my godbabies and anyone else who will run with her.

Bottom line is, there are too many people who get a particular dog breed because it's trendy or it looks good or they dream of doing fantastic things with it and attracting attention from other owners or the media. They don't do the research, they don't provide for the animal's innate needs, and when the dog gets into trouble they call it aggression and then either punish the dog or abandon it.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby Synchronized » April 11th, 2012, 12:18:35 pm

Even if aggressiveness isn't in the genes as a breed, it could be in the particular dog-- I never, ever say a dog is bred to be aggressive towards humans, especially the ones that own it. What sort of dog would be useful for fighting or hunting or guarding if it was? Many dogs are naturally wary of strangers and people walking into their homes-- it could be their personality, but some dogs were bred to guard and as such, this can come natural to them. Some dogs were bred for their aggressiveness to other dogs-- especially with dog fighting in recent times and the popularity of using a pits(as well as other bullies) as a part of it, breeding for dog aggressiveness would be their goal. Having a human-aggressive dog in the ring wouldn't be of any use to a dog fighter when they need to go in and pull the dogs apart by hand.

Pits and other bully breeds were bred for working, guarding, being family pets. The last few decades of horrible breeding doesn't exactly add to their good reputation, or genes for a good, calm, family pet. If you breed two extremely aggressive dogs together, the chances you get the sweetest pup ever goes way, way down. I've talked to multiple people who own bully breeds who come through my store and can't bring their dogs in-- they tell me they used to bring them to the dog parks when they were puppies and they were always good with other dogs, calm and happy to play, but once they hit a certain age(usually 1-2 years, from what I've been told) they became extremely aggressive and attack any dogs that come within their range. Again, this could be the particular dog's personality, but it's hard to believe aggressiveness just suddenly pops up as a personality trait for no reason, especially if the dog is properly socialized and in no way abused.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby Alois » April 11th, 2012, 2:33:19 pm

edit:wrong thread><
Last edited by Alois on April 11th, 2012, 6:25:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby PurpleMistDriver » April 11th, 2012, 3:08:24 pm

If your in Canada the Pitbull isnt even in the top five aggressive dog list the Golden Retriever is though.
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Re: Aggressiveness in Dogs

Postby Grizz » April 11th, 2012, 10:37:08 pm

I don't believe true aggression is an inherent breed trait anywhere in dogs. Human intervention along the way can cause aggressive behaviors to crop up in otherwise normal dogs as well as some medical disorders like hypothyroidism*.

Synchronized wrote:Pits and other bully breeds were bred for working, guarding, being family pets. The last few decades of horrible breeding doesn't exactly add to their good reputation, or genes for a good, calm, family pet. If you breed two extremely aggressive dogs together, the chances you get the sweetest pup ever goes way, way down. I've talked to multiple people who own bully breeds who come through my store and can't bring their dogs in-- they tell me they used to bring them to the dog parks when they were puppies and they were always good with other dogs, calm and happy to play, but once they hit a certain age(usually 1-2 years, from what I've been told) they became extremely aggressive and attack any dogs that come within their range. Again, this could be the particular dog's personality, but it's hard to believe aggressiveness just suddenly pops up as a personality trait for no reason, especially if the dog is properly socialized and in no way abused.


This doesn't just happen in bully breeds. I've read about it in other breeds as well, such as Dalmatians, but unfortunately, I don't have a source for that as it was years ago, but I did own a fear aggressive Lhasa Apso for his entire life. He was never mistreated, but he feared people outside of the normal circle of people he was surrounded with. Both of his parents were confiscated from a puppy mill by animal control and later euthanized as both had bitten animal control officers. He was neutered and socialized more than should be humanly possible but humans that weren't his were an enemy to be feared. Since I adopted him at 8 weeks, I know what sort of training he was given and that he was never abused. It is my personal opinion that since he only had his mother, who personally managed to bite 3 separate ACOs in her time there, as his primary socialization with the occasional handling by someone when she was outside in the run, that her fear of people left an impression on him, one that no amount of loving handling could completely erase. He never bit anyone though.

Since we've veered a little closer to this topic, a lot of people get true aggression confused with prey drive. Pit bulls have been brought up and really, they're the poster child for this confusion**. Pit bulls are terriers which means they are bred with a certain tenacity when going after prey. This is seen in any number of terriers (Parson/Jack Russels, Schnauzers, Westies, etc.). They also tend to have a lot of prey drive as well. The difference is size. My Labrador and I (also has a ton of prey drive and is a successful bird dog) run in our neighborhood. One of the houses has a dog that we have to be very careful running because if it's out, it will attack her. It's a miniature Schnauzer with a clueless owner. The other terrier in the neighborhood is a Pit bull with an owner that knows what she's doing and we have never had a problem with her. Obviously terriers and labs aren't the only breeds that have prey drive (my corgi has it as well but does agility and herds sheep), but for the sake of this discussion, I'll stop there.
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