Wednesday, April 29, 2009


It is hard to know what to feel about the decision by New York's housing authority to ban its residents from owning pitbulls, dobermans or rottweilers, or dogs that are over 25 pounds. 
On the one hand it will only encourage the belief that these breeds are to be feared. 
The breeds such as pitbulls have a very bad reputation, largely as in the past they were trained to be aggressive. Dobermans and Rottweilers likewise. The key word is "trained". Any of those breeds, and indeed any dog at all, if brought up well, and trained correctly should not display any signs of aggression. 
Aggression itself is kind of a funny term. For dogs, aggression is driven from fear - be that of people, dogs or even sounds or experiences that they have not been introduced to slowly. Ever seen a dog try to attack a bicycle or skateboard? It is no different to a dog lunging for another dog, in the sense that in both examples the behaviour is driven by fear. Bring up a dog to be well-adjusted and confident, and you will have a dog that is not aggressive. This goes against certain dog training philosophies that imply a fearless, confident dog is one that needs to be dominated or he/she will become uncontrollable or aggressive. Shouting at your dog or bullying him into obedience actually instils fear in a dog – and fear leads to aggression!  
In Kevin Behan's book, Natural Dog Training, he points out in the conclusion: "Biting, as well as the other countless behavioural problems that send 10 million dogs to their doom each year, is completely avoidable. No matter what the temperament of the dog may be, genetics doesn't mean that a behaviour is predetermined. All dogs can adapt to any environment if their wildness is acknowledged, appreciated, and then channeled into expressions of freedom that are appropriate." Pitbulls, dobermans and rottweilers are high energy dogs which is why they are easy to train to be aggressive. Suppress their energy and add cruelty and that energy will explode through their teeth. use that energy to exercise them, play, train them, and let them be loved and you'll never have a dog that bites! 
When it comes to aggressive dogs, owners of pitbulls, dobermans and rottweilers may like to look at the following ranking of aggressive dogs and have a laugh. Certainly the 25 pound limit will not help in this case! 
Not that I am supporting the study! As I mention, dogs brought up correctly will not be aggressive!
We were lucky enough to foster Nelly, a lovable pit-mix from Posh Pets last October. One of the soppiest, loopiest dogs I have met who brought joy to everyone she came across, and was by far the most popular gal in the pub. She was obedient but outgoing. Luckily her confidence had not been knocked out of her! Nelly was just over one year old, and was due to be euthanised when we took her on.  Here she is in the photo doing what she loved best – chasing leaves and hoovering them up! She now lives in New Jersey with a loving couple where she rules the roost! 
There is so much more to write about aggression and helping dogs overcome their fears, but Rose my new foster looks like she needs a cuddle...

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