OT bad experience today

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Why not. The guy I work for has three Rottweilers. Got to be careful around them or they'll love you to death. Great big teddy bears. I can't believe the breed has any inherent evil tendencies. They must be taught. One man's observation only.
bob g.
Stay tuned - someone is yet bound to introduce the Rottweiller

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Stayed out of this thread, but have to comment here. I may have missed it, but all this conjecture about improper training and personality traits in dogs has very little to do (with some exceptions) with how they react. It's all about instinct.
When I was an 8 year old kid, we had a German Shepherd. Biggest baby and the most gentle dog you've ever seen. One day when he was eating dinner, I was sticking my fingers in his dog food. He snapped at me and bit me on the cheek. Even then I could tell the dog was ashamed for nipping me, but I realized right at that moment, you don't interfere with instinct in an animal. The problem with having any animal, is that it's often very difficult to tell when instinct is going to overshadow training.
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says...

years old. I tried to take a bone away from a Boston Bull. I know because when I got older I had to ask my folks where I'd gotten that scar on my hand :-).
Instinct doth prevail :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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Larry Blanchard wrote: <snip>

It often does. This part of the debate is a rehash of the old nature/nurture debate. It's very hard to prove stuff along these lines, since you can't have one without the other, which makes experiment difficult. However, there have been a number of studies recently that show that genetics is more important for human behavior than previously thought. It's simply not true that you can blame all behavior problems on poor parenting. In fact, barring very good evidence, it would be a very arrogant thing to claim. Since genetic traits are so important for human behavior, it seems likely that it's quite important for dog behavior as well, as we're genetically quite similar. It follows that not all bad dog behavior can be blamed on poor training. Note: pointing out that humans are not dogs would not count as a rebuttle. You'd actually have to have evidence that genetics plays less of a behavioral role with dogs than it does with humans.
Consider two people, Mary and Tom. Assume that both are raised in a relevantly similar environment. It's perfectly possible in this situation for Tom to have a problem with alcohol, due to a genetic predispostion, but Mary does not, since she lacks the genetic predisposition. Let's now put Tom in rehab, and let's say he stay's clean. Good going Tom! Does anyone really think that Tom's desire for alcohol has been removed? Moving back to the canine world, does my dog's desire to chase the squirrel stop even when I tell him "no" and he doesn't chase it?
Does anyone really think that a dog's genetics doesn't influence his behavior, or that differn't breeds have, on average, different behavioral traits? Such a claim flies in the face of overwhelming evidence, such as, for instance, the various studies that analyze the intelligence of different breeds. Yet such an unlikely claim must be assumed by those who say that all doggie behavioral problems are caused by bad training. It's simply not true.
-Peter De Smidt
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Peter De Smidt wrote:

Not nearly as much as you think, apparently. (We'll save the argument about humans for a later time). However, start with this: An attack is a behavior, not an instinct. In dogs as in humans, behavior is plastic. Temperament, which is the expression of genetically determined psychology (among other things) notoriously varies widely among individuals of all breeds. How the temperament is expressed can be, and is, routinely modified.

In the case of aggressiveness it is in fact _supported_ by the evidence, notably the dog bite statistics. As nearly as we can tell from the facts, and despite the reputation to the contrary, dog breeds don't vary significantly in biting behavior. And we know both from experience and studies that dog behavior is quite straightforward to modify.

Major error there. The specific claim is that in at least the vast majority of dogs, regardless of breed, adequate training and socialization will produce a dog with acceptable behavior, including not attacking people or other animals. That is a very different claim and one well-supported by the facts and experience.
What causes 'doggie behavioral problems' is a moot point. The important point is that such problems can almost always be controlled with training and socialization. The secondary point is that unacceptable behavior, such as aggression, can be controlled in all breeds of dogs.
--RC

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Rick Cook wrote:

I've never said otherwise. Clearly, though, one can have an instinct to attack that causes the actual behavior.

Yep. To a certain extent anyway. Try teaching a great Pyrenees not to bark at "strange" noises.

Well, we're having a little problem since we're not directly citing the "evidence" or studies. I'm guilty of this as well. In our defense, this isn't an academic journal, thank God! Are we talking about dog's biting humans? Has the study taken into account the size of each of the breeds? What data do we have on dog on dog aggression? I don't know the answer to the latter, as I haven't found any good studies. The CDC, however, thinks that there's a good enough case to put the pit bull on the dangerous breeds list. To that I'll add the extensive experience that I've had at dog parks. Others have chimed in on this as well. Our anecdotal evidence is relevant if yours is.

But that's not the major issue. The question is not whether most dogs of a given breed can be made relatively safe, the question is are some breds inherently more dangerous, whether to humans or to other dogs, than others. The most recent statistics that I've seen indicate that pit bulls killed twice as many people than any other breed during the time span looked at. You say that's due to poor training. Why are these dogs getting training significantly worse than rottweilers, dobermans...? In my experience the character of a pit bull's attack on another dog is of a different kind than that made by most other dogs. The pit bull has a relentlessness that most dogs lack. Sure, some other terriers have a similar disposition, but their size makes them easier to handle.
We probably should politely agree to disagree on this one. Although we really aren't that far apart. We disagree on how much genetics affects behavior, and the extent to which training can curb instincts. We also disagree on whether medium to large dogs should always be walked on a leash. More importantly, though, we agree on the need for proper training (and treatment in general!) of any dog.
-Peter De Smidt
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Peter De Smidt wrote:

Hmm. In that case we seem to be having a violent agreement. My main point is that any such instinct can be overridden by training and socialization so it is not a factor in the inherent 'danger' of the breed. (Which is in essence what the Alabama Supreme Court found.)

Someone posted the CDC statistics on dog bites by breed earlier. I'll have to look through and find it. Meanwhile, take a look at the references I cited on aggression in dogs.

That's what we have the best numbers on, so that's been the focus, yes.

Size doesn't seem to matter in aggressiveness. Breed popularity is the major determinant -- as in the more of breed X, the more likely you are to have bites by breed X.

There have been quite a number of studies on dog aggression, both by breed and from a behavioral point of view. The Kent County material I cited earlier summarizes a lot of this, without giving references back to the original papers.

For me it is exactly the issue. Remember I chimed on this thread because someone claimed that pit bulls were urban assault weapons, inherently vicious, etc., etc., etc. If that's not the issue for you, we're talking somewhat at cross purposes.

Okay, let's be specific here. Based on the evidence from the dog bite statistics, as well as other evidence, I'd say that it is pretty clear that pit bulls are no more likely to express _aggression_ than any other breed.
But there's a secondary issue involved in the concept of 'dangerous'. That is the amount of damage the dog is likely to do if it does attack. There the evidence pretty clearly indicates that a pit bull, rottweilers, etc. can do far more damage than other breeds. However if the dog isn't likely to attack in the first place, that almost never enters into it.
Keep in mind that only a tiny, tiny fraction of all dog bites result in fatality. There are only about 10 to 20 dog bite deaths in the US each year, but there are hundreds of thousands of dog bites. Considering the relative proportion of fatalities to dog bites, I'd argue that the bite statistics are far more important.

Well, no. What I said was that _attacks_ are due to poor training. The amount of damage once an attack is made is quite a different matter. You would expect strong, fast dogs to account for a disproportionate number of fatalities and that's what you find.

This is quite true and it's one the reasons dogs like pit bulls, rottweilers, etc. do more damage.

This is generally true. However please note that this has no bearing on the dog's aggressiveness.

I think you're correct.

Peter, keep in mind what happens if your dog is involved in an incident while walking unleashed. It doesn't matter who started it. If your Pyr is jumped by a psycho Yorkie/toy poodle/whatever, we pretty well know who's going to get the worst of the ensuing fight. And if your dog isn't on a leash when it happens, you're going to be lucky to get off with just paying the other dog's vet bills.
There are excellent reasons for keeping your dog leashed in almost all circumstances that have nothing to do with breed danger, obedience or anything of the sort.
Responsible pit bull owners have to be especially sensitive to these nuances because of the prejudice (deserved or not) against pit bulls. A pit bull involved in a dog fight, no matter who started it, is all to often a dead pit bull once Animal Control gets involved in the situation.
--RC

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Me. It was death resulting from dog bites. They may have numbers on bites that do not result in death, but on a casual search I did not see them. Google ought to turn up the post with the cite.
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OK, I was wrong about Rottweilers being Teddy Bears, as a breed. Only know the ones I've encountered. Here are some state. This listing puts German Shepherds and Chow Chows neck and neck for incidents with Rotts ahead on fatal attacke. http://www.dogexpert.com/HomePage/DogBiteStatistics.html
rhg
Lobby Dosser wrote:

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OK, now figure the odds. Chows and Rottweilers are rare compared to Shepherds and Shepherd mixes.
Fatal is mostly a case of large dog/small victim, though one might infer something about the smaller pit-bulls from their ranking. Persistence.
Note, also, that when the dog could avoid the confrontation (unchained) the incidence of bites was 35% of the chained. Of course some dogs _are_ chained because they can't be trusted.
"Lies, damned lies and statistics...."

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I think most of the problem is on the human side. Carnivores are dangerous to each other, too, and have developed elaborate submission gestures as well as aggressive gestures to get business transacted short of death. The reason most bites are on kids is that they advance in spite of the warnings the animals are giving.

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Well, I can't disagree but I have to ask, do Rottweilers, as a breed have aggressive instincts? I've never seen any aggression out of this guys dogs but then I haven't been around a large number of Rotts.
bob g. btw, statistically, German Shepherds account for the largest number of emergency room visits for dog bites. Statistic doesn't mean a lot by itself. Maybe they constitute the largest number of large dogs capable of inflicting bites deserving of an ER visit combined with the most opportunity.
Upscale wrote:

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Robert Galloway wrote:

I like Rottweilers very much, although I've never had one. At our dog park, though, there are two rotties that are a very big problem. Both are un-neutered males. One's about 150lbs., and one's 135lbs. Both are very aggressive towards other large dogs. The big one will shoulder butt and growl at another dog until the other dog has had enough and retaliates, which is exactly what the rottie wants. The other one will pin other dogs and not let them up. He will stand over the other dog growling, and when the other dog tries to get up, the rottie will force the poor dog back down. The owner's think that their dogs should by rights be able to do these things. They're "just being dogs." My vet once commented that she makes a pretty good living sewing up dogs "just being dogs." I don't know how representative this behavior is. As I said at first, I know a number of very fine rotties.
-Peter De Smidt
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rotts are probably the worst dogs for attacking, largely due to horrid training techniques by their owners. many so called dog trainers ought to be sued just once for what they are doing, and anyone stupid enough to try and self train a Rott needs a good lawsuit as well.
OTOH, properly trained they are good dogs, but need close supervision and a lot of interaction with the family. they are very poor choices as outside dogs. if you want a dog that will stay outside most of the time, a Rott is a very bad choice.

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All I know is you don't read about a lot of mauling by Golden Retrievers. You do about Pit Bulls, Rotts, and Shepard's. Operating on this simple principle and a the fact there are innumerable other breeds out there, I would never own one. And that same belief leads me to the belief that most (not all) people who do own them own them for the wrong reasons, they had other options and chose the dangerous one.
-- -Jim
If you want to reply by email its --> ryan at jimryan dot com Please use BCC and lets all avoid spam

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jtpr wrote:

Reporterese-to-english dictionary "Pit Bull (n): a dog."
The fact that you "read a lot about" something often means that the press has decided to play it up and not that there is a real problem.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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If you want to reply by email its --> ryan at jimryan dot com Please use BCC and lets all avoid spam

Nice theory, but if you actually apply it to my example, a Golden Retriever mauling a child would certainly be a LOT more newsworthy a story.
-- -Jim
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Wrong. For three or four different reasons. And I say that as a former newspaper reporter and editor for wire services and daily newspapers. Among the problems are misidentification of the dog's breed, lack of identification of the dog's breed (remember, in by far the largest percentage of fatal dog attacks the dog's breed is unknown), and the scare factor of the name 'pit bull'. Not to mention the relative unimportance to the media of getting the breed right.
Let me give you an example from another area that may help clarify how the process works. Three or four years ago a drunk in the upscale community of Scottsdale, AZ, was driving home after an evening's drinking when he hit and killed a boy of 10 or so. The drunk had the misfortune to be driving a Rolls Royce. As a result the story got at least ten times as much play as a typical drunken driving fatality of a child and every stinking one of those stories mentioned the guy had been driving a Rolls Royce.
Now as with most communities, the make of vehicle involved in a fatal accident almost never makes the news at all, unless police are trying to find the car. What made this car 'newsworthy' was the connotation of wealth, luxury and privilege carried by "Rolls Royce." Just as 'pit bull' in a news story about a dog mauling is more 'newsworthy' than, say, a golden retriever.
And let's not forget simple ignorance and prejudice on the part of the members of the media. Reporters and editors are usually pretty smart, but they are often shockingly misinformed.
--RC
If I weren't interested in gardening and Ireland, I'd automatically killfile any messages mentioning 'bush' or 'Kerry'
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Who would have cared if it had been a white guy fighting the LAPD on tape rather than the (everyone remember the phrase?) "black motorist Rodney King?" It would have been just another drunk fleeing and eluding.
Ya gotta sell that soap, and folks won't read your paper or watch your broadcast unless you give 'em what they want.

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I don't want to get into a discussion of the more subtle (I won't say 'finer') points of news coverage, but I will point out that the Rodney King story had two things going for it -- one of them legitimate IMHO and one of them illegitimate.
The legitimate point is that a lot of minorities in Los Angeles believed that the police tended to brutalize them as a method of keeping them in line. What happened to Rodney King played into that.
The bastard was that it was a very graphic piece of tape. As far as the news gerbils in television were concerned, that made it not only newsworthy but worth running and re-running and re-running. (That running it constantly might be inflammatory apparent occurred to those twits not at all.)
The hard fact is that there is a large measure of simple prejudice and not a little stereotyping that goes into deciding what it 'newsworthy.' Which is why a 'pit bull attack' is so much more likely to get big play than a dog bite.
--RC

If I weren't interested in gardening and Ireland, I'd automatically killfile any messages mentioning 'bush' or 'Kerry'
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