Predicting Dangerous Human Behavior
The trouble with people claiming to be able to “predict” the “dangerousness” of a dog based on their breed or “type” is this, they have not put forth any proof they themselves know anything about dog behavior and or human behavior as it relates to the potential dangerousness of dogs, so they cannot make the claim.
Even if one did have great insights to dog behavior or the breed or mix of the dog, they cannot make the clam based solely on the dog’s type, the major factor in a dog’s “dangerousness” are the humans and their behavior, period. As a collective community, people on both sides of the equation need to get better at predicting the potential for dangerous human behavior as it relates to dogs.
Once human behavior as it relates to dogs is the focus we’ll see resolutions to concerns over dogs of certain types and less incidents that cause serious injury or death. In addition we’ll see vast improvements in dog ownership and the training profession. These last two areas are actually at the heart of fixing most of the things that concern us all.
Stop listening to the anti dog lobby
Seems that the dog haters and the lawyers that represent dog bite victims always want to point out info on bites and “jaw strength” and the damage inflicted on a person or another dog. Again, how do these people actually know what they are speaking about if all they do is read the news for their experience with dogs? It reminds me of all the people that talk about sports as if they could play a second in the pros. When a tractor kills someone and it is discovered the tractor was built or maintained in a faulty manner, the media do not digress into sensationalized details of the injury; they focus on the tractor having been improperly constructed by the humans and preventing further tractor accidents.
This is the crux of the problem, why the meme persists. There are far too many people with “feelings” and far too few armed with actual facts and legit experience that will lend credence to their offerings in the conversation about dogs and dog behavior, as to how we can all make communities safer and keep dogs sound.
As I read through the overview of Tracy v. Solesky, a recent court case in Maryland that is petitioning courts for more liability from dog owners and landlords in bite cases involving “pit bulls type dogs”, I was struck by a massive glaringly obvious omission from the entire court case. There was no behavioral history for the dog that was involved in the case or in any of the past dog bite cases that were used for “evidence” to show the “dangerousness” of “pit bulls”.
Not one iota of Behavioral History on these dogs in question was put forth, just the resulting bite damages that ensued. How can judges, lawyers and dog advocates sit by and not realize this is a huge omission? Or maybe they do? This omission makes the entire case of calming some dog “types” are more “dangerous” a farce. How would they know unless they knew the accurate behavioral history of the dog and the human’s behavior choices?
How the was dog treated, trained and maintained daily with the people that are assuming the responsibility of owning the dog is the only real inquiry that needs to be made. That history and the human behavior associated to it is the ANSWER as to why the dog did what the dog did.
This basic questions which are at the heart of every legitimate dog training and behavioral modification case was not taken into account at all, not just in this case, but in just about every case that gets publicized. They omit or do not gather the proper factual information related to the dog’s and the humans behavioral HISTORY.
Even when they do take the dog’s history into account, that dog, like all dogs that land lethal bites or end up killing a human, the dogs were abused and mistreated in some way by the humans.
However this is rarely if ever focused on and used as a way to alleviate future dog bite incidents. Even when it is detailed the spin on the story is the dogs are “dangerous”, they do not spin the truth which is the humans were doing dangerous things that created a context for the dog to be unsound. Period.
When dogs do things that cause humans concern, why do humans by and large get a pass in the media and in the courts?
Has the dog now somehow miraculously risen up through it’s own genetic endowment of limited intelligence, and despite operating from an amygdala centric perspective that works to determine the safety of their environment, now dogs have become intellectually moral and “all knowing”? Hmm…
How is it that no events in the dogs past or any human behaviors could have ever predicted or contributed to the dog’s behavior issues at hand?
There is no truth to the myth that the “dog’s behavior just turned” mysteriously, with no warning.
It always amazes me how some people forgo any responsibility as to how the dog has developed behaviorally by way of the human’s behavior choices.
For some people, dogs are not subjected to or affected by the laws of behavioral science at all, and dogs exist in some mysterious space where nothing but “genetics”, and the comparative “perfect” behavior of the “other dogs” and some nebulous idea of “perfection” is the standard.
As if most people actually have a clue how genetics works, or behavior for that matter, but why let that stop them? Then consider most people really only remember “the last few years” and all the “good things” about the dog they have or had or that they grew up with. People just love to factor in some fictional pixie dust hypothesis to explain or understand what has influenced the dog, so they can be left untouched by their behavioral choices. Plus the education for dog owners is appalling so it is easy to see why people are all over the proverbial map when it comes to dogs.
Yet again dogs give up their lives so people can walk around guilt free. I hope they thank them for it at least when the dog is hauled off and euthanized for being an innocent victim of their lack of good judgment.
This has to stop, because quite frankly it is nonsense in an age when information travels in milliseconds and anyone can obtain pretty much any information needed, it is clear to see there is some other agenda at play, as something this simple should not be persisting this long.
Blaming a dog for their behavior It is akin to blaming a rape victim. Dogs are shaped by the choices humans place upon them, i.e. humans create the dog’s behavioral pathology by their behavioral choices in the way of daily training and or management and the environments they pace the dog in.
That is the scientific truth. Anything less is an effrontery to all the behavioral science we have. Dogs do not just “turn”, they are shaped by all of their experiences, even the experiences humans do not realize are occurring.
I shudder to think how much money, time and energy was wasted on the Maryland court case and all the other court cases that involve a dog that has bitten lethally or fatally. I say wasted because far too many useless diatribes, and laws by agenda laden lawyers and angry dog haters have been leveled at dogs. Now those have been recorded into history for other gullible humans to swallow wholesale and now this consciousness has maligned millions of dogs that have not done anything wrong and mathematically will not do anything that causes actual concern.
We live in an age where certain dog types will be banned, blamed and euthanized summarily by anyone that has a “feeling” the dog “might” do something at some point because of their “type” or the hype.
A suggestion to start resolutions for more education
When a dog kills someone, or mauls a human lethally, take a detailed behavioral history that focuses on the human behavioral choices, and the resulting dog behavior that ensued, and then you will know exactly why the dog was in the behavioral position it was in to do what it did.
Then euthanize the dog that killed a human or mauled a child, don’t jump up an down, it’s going to happen most likely any way, (especially if the dog kills a child), issue meaningful fines to the dogs owner or whom ever the dog was in the charge of, place the humans in jail for a substantial amount of time or life if the dog killed someone, do not allow the people that were in the dog’s charge to have dogs ever again, and move on. Period.
Then the dog that was “too far gone” is dead, and the people that were so reckless or ignorant or misinformed as to lead a dog down the behavioral road it was on can longer do that to any other dogs. Period.
If the dog has not killed or lethally mauled someone, but has landed a bite or multiple bites, then use the Dunbar Bite Scale, take the history of the humans and the dog and move on with common sense fines, and mandatory education from legit dog professionals that do not use fear, pain, or force to “train” dogs. Not all dogs that bite are going to kill someone and not all bites are the same. Educate people so the dog is learning properly and safely.
Perhaps rehome the dog and find responsible people if that needs to be done, then at least the dog is not in the hands of reckless people.
Just don’t blame the dog, because if you do you are playing a fools game and in the end you’ll lose, as dogs are conduits of the truth, if they are allowed to be.
In the court documents for the Tracy v. Solinsky case they took great pains to describe how bad the bites were and the resulting damage caused by the dogs involved. Yet not one bit of historical info on the dog’s history was taken. Nothing. If it had been taken it was left out of the proceedings and then the question needs to be asked, who did the dog’s behavioral history?
Did they even know what to ask and what to look for? Was it even considered?
This in and of itself makes the entire case a sham, a farce, nothing more than lawyers clamoring for more money from dog owners that have a certain “type”. The media and manufactured prejudice against innocent beings front and center with what I can tell was zero legit behavior education offered to any of the parties involved.
I do want to thank the dissenting judges in this case, Harrell and Barbera as they showed common sense and decency and sensitivity towards all involved from both parties and entered into record many questions that need addressing, and redressing, hopefully the message will be sent and a common sense dialog can be had going forward.
More Money for certain “types”
We see this starting to be a mantra from all corners of US cities. They want certain dog “types” to cost more for registering them and they want those dogs held to a higher and or more difficult standard, where as other dogs are left to be free of and not affected by all the same human and environmental influences as these dogs of a certain “type” are influenced by.
So that 70 lb. Lab / Golden mix that has a serious bite history in the hands of reckless people is not a concern, but the dog that looks like a “bully type” and has no bite history is a concern? This nonsense in it’s most obvious form.
In Broward County Florida, they are proposing $500 fines for “training pit bulls to fight”. Anyone that has a clue knows this is a joke and does zero to prevent dogs from biting people or other dogs.
To a gang member or drug dealer $500 is about 30 minutes work. Plus they’ll just get another dog or pay off the town officials with far greater sums than $500. Add a zero or two to that fine and make it a “pay off” and you’ll start seeing people look the other way. Think this only happens in the movies, and I have a bridge for you to buy in NYC.
Why not place the person in jail for dog fighting? Period. If they are “training” dogs to fight, then arrest them. If someone is making drugs, but not selling them they go to jail as well as the dealer. Get it Florida?
Then remove the dogs and place them in rescues after they have been evaluated. Remember that lame assed football player got all caught up in dog fighting a few years ago? That is what happened to him? Why should someone be “fined for training dogs to fight”? Again this is nonsense “solution” in its most construction.
Broward County officials state that they are NOT banning “pit bulls” they just do not want “any new pit bulls”, ahem, that is a ban folks.
How can they stop someone from buying a home or renting that already has a certain type of dog? It may simply be a dog that is a “look a like”. Now people cannot live where they choose? Sounds ridiculous and a whole lot like prejudice to me.
Does this mean that Broward county Florida is prepared to start euthanizing every “type” of dog in all the shelters that look like a “pit bull type”? What about rescues? What about breeders? After all those would be “new dogs” entering into the Broward population.
Once again, simply not a smart approach to solving the issues surrounding dog bites.
This is the trouble; people are not taking the proper measures to stop the abuses and level proper consequences for people committing abuses or acting reckless with dogs.
For a fraction of the money they’ll spend trying to enforce these new laws, if they pass…which will not address dog bites or fatalities from dog bites at all…they could educate the entire city on proper interaction with dogs, legit safe dog training and how to recognize the signs of abuse & dog fighting so people can intervene before incidents occur.
Seems to me like Broward county Florida and other states trying to adopt measures/ or better yet tactics that include higher registration fees are clearly doing it to make money and clear out certain “types” from the dog population.
That is simply not right. That sure sounds like prejudice to me, and it sounds like zero success for preventing future dog bite related incidents.
Predicting Dangerous Human Behavior – Preventing dog incidents
If there was to be an actual legit way to determine a dog’s potential “dangerousness”, or more accurately put, predicting the dangerousness of the humans, there would have to be the following steps taken by someone educated for the job that knows what to look for and what to ask as well as due diligence on the part of all involved in cases of lethal or fatal bites so that they find the truth and use it for preventing other similar human dynamics from becoming dangerous.
1 – Thorough and accurate behavioral history taken on the dog & the humans. This is more challenging than it seems, though it can be done. People forget, people do not realize they did what they did, they lie, people have no idea about dog behavior that is relevant, people have no clue about their behavior that is relevant to the out come…however it can be done and the right questions do exist, however far too few people know the questions to ask or what to look for behaviorally from humans or dogs. It is akin to being a detective.
This behavioral history will be a great asset to anyone at any stage in the dog’s life. Again, educating dog owners, shelters, rescues and ACO’s, and police on what to ask via a form dog owners fill out, can greatly help figure out how to prevent dog bites and what led the dog to the point of seriously or fatally biting a human. A behavioral history form can be used to prevent incidents from occurring as well as for basic training purposes.
2 – ALL lethal and fatal dog bite cases have a human behavioral criterion that repeats in total or in part.
Dogs kept as resident dogs for breeding, protection, fighting or guarding.
Dogs un-spayed or un-neutered.
Children and dogs left unsupervised.
Dogs chained or housed or fenced in 24/7 – creates stress & fear.
Domestic violence. Franklin County OH conducted a survey and found the zip codes with the highest domestic violence had the heist dog bite incidents.
Dogs roaming loose.
These are ALL human behavioral decisions that can be educated towards better decisions thus preventing dangerous environments.
When people know the signs of abuse be they neighbors, shelter staff, animal control or police, they can be seen as the warning signs for dangerous human behavior, which will result in dangerous dog behavior. Thus preventative measures can immediately be put in place, or legal action can be taken, as well as educational efforts to create sound safe dogs through sound safe actions by humans.
3 – Stop believing that dog’s “somehow” in some mysterious way, end up fearful, aggressive and causing harm to humans or other dogs. Focus on human behavior. That is the answer. That will detail why the dogs are the way they are. Dogs are a by-product of their environments and are a direct reflection of their human’s behavioral approaches and or their lack of proper education about dogs.
4 – Comprehensive medical exam that includes a thorough blood test for liver, kidney, thyroid, spleen and gall bladder this will be a good window into what the immune health of the dog is. Then you’ll need an MRI and an ultra sound. Then we’d have some comprehensive information as to the potential “dangerousness” of the dog. How so?
Because brain lesions and cysts growing on major organs are reality for many dogs, even dogs that are presumably “well cared for pets”. Illness goes hand in hand with increased fear and increased aggression. Early detection can be very helpful and prevent dog bites.
You can do this now if your dog has serious fear or has displayed bona fide aggression, or simply to see the state of the dog’s health. Get the dog evaluated by way of comprehensive medical exam. If they are healthy then you can focus mainly on behavioral modification, if the dog has bitten or in the case of a lethal or fatal incident this exam will detail perhaps that the dog was/is sick.
I strongly suggest someone do this for the next dog that has mauled or killed a human or another dog. Get their health tested, get their behavioral history accurately recorded. Then make a determination as to how sound the dog is along with their behavioral history you will know more than simply blaming the “type” of dog.
If it is found out that the dog is sick, hopefully then the legal system surrounding the dog will realize that it is not “genetics” or “breed” that has ”dangerous “ qualities, it is a dog that was sick and not sound or well cared for most likely, or at the very least not cared for as well enough as it could have been had the people had received better education about their dog.
5 – Nation wide mandate for the proper education of all dog owners, shelters, rescues, police and animal control, child welfare services and other community outreach sectors. ALL rescues, shelters, SPCA’s, Humane Society’s and breeders especially should by law have to give out to all dog owners a standard for training and maintaining dogs and raising a puppy. This information must be void of any suggestions regarding the use of shock, choke, force, fear, or any form of violence or pain in order to deal with a dog’s behavior. Information can be given out to new dog owners or current dog owners at the time of registration or renewal of registration.
This is a far less costly way to prevent dog bites and keep communities safe.
If these measures were to be adopted and expanded upon by the whole canine community in the USA and the world, we would have the answers and the solutions to the majority of issues society faces with dogs.
However, dog culture is fragmented and there is no unifying body that can take the lead to create a true educational reform. So it is up to individuals to pursue these efforts and make their communities safer and better educated.
Safe and effective education for everyone
When someone contacts me for dog training, no matter the issues, I require a 16-page behavior history form on the dog as long as they have had the dog for more than 7 days. Puppies 8 – 21 weeks get a pass and get into a class after first round of shots.
This behavioral history is why I do not get bitten in dog training sessions.
This behavior history is where I discover many things that need addressing or a redress because it is an ancillary issue to the client. However based on the right questions answered without emotional confluence muddying the waters, I can tell the behavioral trajectory that will ensue if the issues are dealt with properly or improperly. It is a flow to chart and it is matter of degrees.
Human behavior is the variable as to how the dog will remain sound as well as how well the dog’s training will be, especially around distractions.
This is an approach can save millions of dog’s lives and reduces stress for their humans. It can also prevent lethal bites and fatalities to children. The trouble is dog trainers, shelter in takes and vets are not doing this properly or efficiently. It is mainly due to their lack of education.
The behavioral history form is why I have success more often than not with cases. Sometimes even despite the lack of effort put forth by many dog owners that have hired me, the success occurs due to the humans now having an accurate reflection of their behavior and how it has helped or not helped the dynamic.
Most people can achieve at least 50% of the things needed for improvement. Once this 50% is accomplished things start to improve. Then it will increase, as they get better at changing their behavior.
The behavioral history form and the ensuing report that I send, with training plans, is a glaringly obvious reminder to the humans that THEY created the dog by way of their behavioral choices, more so than genetics or breed or type, it is their daily behavioral choices that has led the dog down the path it is currently on.
However, when the humans change their behavior, the dog’s behavior changes.
The problem is there are far too many lay people playing dog expert and far too many dog “experts” acting like lay people and not practicing due diligence to get to the real truth as to why the dog did what it did by doing a legit behavioral history. So the prognosis is faulty and the treatment is faulty and nothing much gets resolved.
Todays leash reactive dog that is being choked or “corrected” and not being counter conditioned properly, is tomorrows bite case.
However, the dog training and behavior and sheltering and breeding communities are not designed to “front load proper information”. It is the Wild West and anything goes, and anything can be suggested, and then dogs suffer and get blamed for human failings.
Most “experts” or training “professionals” do not do legit behavioral intakes; they wing it, because they “think” they “know” all there is to “know” about dogs. They ask a few simple questions, and take the money or take the dog away an impound them. That is clearly not enough.
Far too many shelters are simply not educated enough to do a proper and thorough, legit, detailed behavior evaluation on film and in writing for the staff or the potential adopters. They just do not know how, but they could learn.
Front Loading The Proper Information
I see 100’s of dogs and their owners each year after they paid for dog training services elsewhere and they all say the same thing, “the last trainer did not have us fill out a behavior history form”…they also did not give the people any actual information or tangible help by way of showing them skills needed to train in a legit way and then putting it in simple writing as how to manage the dog safely and humanely around people and or other dogs regardless of their dog’s behavior.
Once people have a written plan, that anyone can follow there is hopefully a kind consistency that is adopted by the humans and the dog stays sound.
Training being spot on and “perfect” or very reliable has lots to do with people’s mechanics and timing and the environmental variables.
“Perfect” training is not the goal. Sound, safe dogs with educated humans attached to them is the goal.
I often hear at some point in a training session, “you are actually training us humans”. Indeed I am.
Sure the dog is learning and I am “training the dog”, but the humans need to change how they behave, even if it is subtle, or drastic or somewhere in between, but make no mistake the dog will not change in ways the humans like unless the humans change their behavior.
Heck, even remembering to close a gate is a human behavior. Think how many times this simple act could have prevented a tragedy or a neighborhood nuisance.
The environment and human behavior
The environment mainly influences dog behavior. Dogs learn sequences based on predictive value and they generalize fear easily. Humans and how they behave, or do not behave, is the biggest variable in how the dog associates and learns about their environments.
Humans are the greatest influential variable on how the dog predicts what will happen when met with stimuli the dog pays attention to. No matter if they find it fearful or joyous, the human is the biggest variable as to how and what they associate to it.
We have to factor in biological and physiological processes that will be present despite all the best training and socializing, dog’s do things that ANIMALS do naturally. One of those things is they will learn what the environment provides by way of safety and danger, even if the fear is only perceived by the dog and not actually a threat, and the reinforcement of behavior that the dog receives simply by way of doing a behavior. Barking at passing people out of a window is reinforcement for the dog.
The biggest variable in how everything works out for the dog is the human without question. Not genetics, and certainty not breed or “type”. Once people stop pretending that behavior happens out of “nowhere” and take responsibility for their behavior and how they set their dogs up to fail or succeed, things work out much better.
This also goes for politicians, city council people, police, ACO’s, shelter staff and rescues…focus on human behavior and not dog behavior so much and you’ll see the changes you desire in your communities.
A very common scenario – This could be tomorrows dog in the headlines
A child of 5 lives in the home with a dog. The child has lived with the dog since birth when the dog was 8 weeks of age. The dog is also 5 years of age. The puppy and the child grew up together.
Each time the dog is near the baby and displaying anything but “clam behavior”, which is either sitting or laying down, the adults scold the dog in some way.
The scolding and punishments occur randomly and suddenly and are dealt with various levels of intensity based on the adults “moods”.
The dog and child are often left unattended. The child often falls on the dog and the dog growls. The adult’s blame the dog for growling when they notice it, other times in occurs without supervision and the dog is left to determine how to feel about this child and kids in general.
When ever the child runs, screams, yells, or tosses toys and the dog barks or orients and pays attention to the child, the adults resort to some form of punishment or squelching of the dog’s behavior.
The dog slinks off after a few more barks and a few extra punishments.
The dog has little exposure to children of any age other than this child in the home.
The dog is walked each day and see’s kids and when ever he starts to bark or get excited in any way he is administered a choke by way of the prong collar.
The dog stops reacting at kids on leash, for the most part, depends on the intensity of the kids behavior, kids now predict fear and pain. Kids have a negative association. The dog stops responding but is still apprehensive when kids are present.
The reacting at and going near the child in the home has reduced somewhat. Again, depends on the intensity of the kid’s behavior. The dog now simply hangs out in the corner and does not go near the child, for the most part.
The adults think this is all a good thing.
The dog has food, water, dog friends, plays with adults and teens, goes to the vet once a year. By all accounts the dog has a “good home”.
One day after years of various multi level punishment sequences created by the humans, the dog gets out the door and chases down a running, screaming child and seriously harms the child. Maybe the dog could even kill the child.
Anyone that knows anything about dogs would not at all be shocked at this event once they hear the history of the dog, but the dog’s owners who have created this are mystified.
It always amazes me how many people forgo any responsibility as to how the dog has developed behaviorally by way the their behavior choices.
For some, It is as if dogs were not bound by the laws of behavioral science at all and existed in some mysterious space where nothing exists but “genetics”, and the comparative “perfect” behavior of the “other dogs”…as if people actually had a clue how genetics works, but why let that stop them...then consider people really only remember “the last few years” and all the “good things” about the dog”….and people love to factor in some fictional pixie dust hypothesis to explain or understand what has influenced the dog. So it is difficult to take an accurate history.
Cue voice of dog owner - “The dog was jealous of the baby. He wanted to be near us and the baby all the time and he wanted our attention too much, and we taught him not to bother with us or the baby so he would know we are the pack leaders”.
Think I am exaggerating, you should see some of the behavioral intake forms I have collected over the years. Tragically comical in all aspects of life from the bizarre to the overly emotional, to the monosyllabic for an aggression case no less. It amazes me how people can know so much about their dogs and yet know nothing at all that actually translates into valuable information to help the dog get better.
Usually on the advice of a “trainer” or the Vet, as they always get asked what to do, the dog then gets “more walks”. Which is only about 1/64th of the equation for the dog that needs help in reducing fear and reactivity on leash “more walks” has little to do with how the dog has learned that the predictive value of small kids that run and scream is punishment, fear and pain.
With the increased walks now scents are not as novel or as salient as they are more frequent, and leash reactivity at passing strangers starts occurring. We are now seeing the generalization of fear take hold.
As the frustration on leash is trumping the scents, more scolding and leash “corrections” ensue either on the advice of the “trainer” or vet, or that is what people are inclined to do. The dog still chases people/kids when management fails and the dog still reacts at the child in the home from time to time. The dog gets out one day and does something that causes concern and everyone seems stymied as to why.
No one in the dog’s life was equipped with the ability to take an accurate and comprehensive behavioral history. So how could the dog and the people get proper help?
This example that can be extrapolated and placed over just about any dog human dynamic that comes through my doors on a daily basis. The issues are all varied but the scenarios are all based in dog owners not receiving proper information and then acting upon it with due diligence to create more problems than what was originally observed.
The people forgo any responsibility and create fiction to replace their behavioral choices as a cause as to why the dog does what it does. At least until they get proper help.
Here is a bullet point to help resolve the situation described above
- 100% Supervision or separation of all dogs and all children under the age of 16. Think it’s extreme? Ok, kids on my watch never get bitten. I can say that with 100% certainty. Can you?
- Stop any painful “corrections”, startle routines and “scolding” as it will only create a negative association and dogs generalize fear very easy. Remember predictive value of stimulus is what creates the association to the sequences for dogs. What do you want to create? What would you like the association to be?
- Close the yard gate and lock it. Again, seems easy, but you may be surprised as to how difficult this is for some people. A dog that is running loose poses dangers to traffic and perhaps they are not as sound as you thought, after all what have you been doing for them as far as creating positive and meaningful associations to the world at large?
- Make sure the dog is managed behind a gate or in a crate when answering the door. If kids live in the home they need to be managed as well and instructed about the dog when the door is to be answered. Again seems easy, but for some this is tantamount to running a triathlon.
Start a counter conditioning protocol with the dog for all and any sightings or sounds of kids in general and when on leash as any and all people are noticed by the dog. This is actually a simple thing to do in theory, but for people to get help in being efficient with it can be a difficult thing to do. So few people out here in dog training are equipped with the skills to instruct people on legit ways to desensitize and counter condition dogs that have leash reactivity, or fear of kids, but it can be done. It is easier than yelling, more effective tan choke chains, simpler than chasing your dog down the street and the results will yield a dog that is a more sound and less reactive.
-Step up socializing and implement proper training so the dog is learning proper sequences. Again, seems easy, but the world is filled with hack “trainers” that have no clue, that make up fiction to replace their lack of skills and knowledge. Find a dog trainer that is not going to use fear, pain, force, shock or startle to “train” and at least you’ll be in the right camp.
Another aspect of human behavior is being a savvy dog guardian and making sure that diligent homework is done and the proper questions are asked before you hire a dog trainer. This is also a factor for proper education.
These are ALL human behavioral changes that will have a drastically positive affect on the dog’s behavior and keep communities safe.
Educate Educate Educate!
When humans are given the proper, legitimate and safe information how to train and maintain dogs things usually go much smoother and safer.
When challenges do arise, and they will, at least with the proper safe info, people have proper and safe options, as opposed to nothing at all, or lots of conflicting information and the proverbial “well my grand pa says to do this or that” or relying solely on their own interpretation of behavior and how to address it.
This is where every court case and legal foray into dog bites has failed miserably. There has been no discussion about what are and what are not proper and safe ways to train and or maintain “dogs in general” based on the context, so a legitimate standard can be put in place for all dogs no matter where they fall on the behavior spectrum or where they live.
The next dog that kills a human started out as a puppy. That dog had a life prior to becoming unsound. ALL the humans in that dog’s life are responsible for the dog’s behavior; the dog is innocent, period. Anything less is based in fiction and the results of emotionally driven static.
When a dog bites someone severely and sometimes not so severely, It is as if the whole world suspends common sense, and forgets that we do have some very sound and undisputable evidence on how dog’s brains work and how dogs are affected by their environment, how dogs are influenced by the behavioral choices of humans.
We have the Dunbar Bite Scale to determine the level of the bite. Not all bites are lethal or a sign of an unsound dog and common sense and logic need to be front and center in any dog bite discussion.
This is not a mission to Mars, people this is well-charted territory. We actually have ways to solve the problems that we face with dogs on any level. Even on the level of mauling’s and fatal dog bite incidents, we have the ability to make them even more rare than they are now.
Time to (Hu) Man Up
This is the sad thing, the information to help people is readily available and in most all cases can be obtained for nearly free and distributed with little or no major cost.
For all the money raised and spent on both sides of the issue; you’d think by now we’d have figured it out writ large and in bold; it is the humans and their lack of education that continually perpetuates this “dangerous dog”, BSL, “pit bull” meme that the media regurgitates, and dog haters use as ammo, all to gain viewers and keep people in fear.
The only real danger I see with dogs is the appalling lack of education and the out right unmitigated hubris that humans display when they fail to take responsibility for their own behavior and blame the dogs. I see this with dog lovers as well as dog haters all the time.
This failure to resolve the issues is a collective cascade of failures and it is leveled on all first the media, dog owners, dog haters, lawyers, judges, “advocates”, “trainers” “behaviorists” and any other human that points a finger at anyone but themselves or the humans in the dog’s charge when things go bad. We all need to do more and do better at it, daily.
Dogs are summarily used for our enjoyment and our worship and even the laws designed to help keep them safe from abuse do not really protect them. Dogs are worshiped but not protected and that is just wrong.
This lack of protection is mainly due to a massive lack of proper education for dog professionals and dog owners. The dog haters are what they are and as far as I can tell; the collective intelligence of “dog haters” comes in at around an 8th grade level of awareness and cognitive abilities. The media are as much or now more like lemmings than the viewers, so if we all work hard enough we can even get them to change as well.
Despite all the odds that are stacked against dogs, the dogs always do great cumulatively speaking, as a risk factor. Dogs come into the world with and retain massive amounts of deference built in to them naturally, which is why they do not kill or maul all that many people even though they could.
Think about it, that is why they are called “man’s best friend”. They really pose such a low risk to humans that we can live with them in our homes.
Dog haters love to pull out fuzzy math and try and prove how “dangerous” certain “breeds” and “types” are, but the cumulative math by impartial parties speaks volumes that dogs are actually a very safe risk in society comparatively speaking.
It is interesting how dog haters and the media that have zero contact with dogs in a meaningful way or any tangible legit experience with dogs, let alone “pit bulls” know how “dangerous” they are or might be. Really?
In 2011, 31- dog bite related fatalities occurred. In 2011 there was an estimated 72 million dogs and 300 million humans in the USA. 31 dogs out of 72 million are great averages when you look at the risk factors. We would hardly call this an “epidemic” by any standard. More kids were injured and or killed by skateboard accidents in 2011.
42 people died as a result of skateboarding in 2011. 28 of these skateboard deaths were caused when a car hit a person skating boarding, so cars are actually the real danger in most cases of skate boarding accidents, not skateboards. Though yes indeed skateboards do have some intrinsic risk, but you know that going in.
Just as with dog incidents, it is the people that are responsible for the dog being in a safe or dangerous environment. The better we educate people the more they can see what their behavior choices will create for the dog, a safe or a potentially dangerous environment.
In 2011, roughly 5,479 dogs a day were euthanized simply due to looking like a “type” or supposedly being a “mix” or a “pit bull”. That is roughly 2.5 million dead dogs verses 31 dead humans. The dogs that were involved with those fatal dog bites had a history and humans created it.
2.5 million dogs euthanized based on type or over population or ignorance or “feelings” that is the epidemic.
In all these statistics we can say clearly that humans are the one’s to be held accountable for the numbers that come in each year. The dogs have no say in the matter, literally.
Admitting or deducing anything less is a lie. Don’t live a lie, look at your behavior, look at your fellow humans behaviors as it relates to dogs, then you’ll have all the answers you need to solve the problems that exist between dogs and humans. Human behavior, even behavior thought of as benign can have dangerous consequences. Education is the answer.
The real behavioral “danger”, is this, humans love to pass the buck on their behavior and blame the innocents that cannot speak for themselves.
Hopefully the proverbial mirror just got a whole lot clearer for some. Once we focus on predicting the potential for dangerous human behavior we’ll see dog behavior improve drastically.
Should anyone need help with dog training, dog training & behavior education for shelter staff, city officials, police and ACO’s or need help to evaluate a dog or defend a dog that has been in an incident, or you would like to know more abut dogs in general get in touch.
Please, ONLY post up and lend some credible ideas to this discussion.
The following links can help with dog training and dog advocacy as well as communicating with the media.
Drayton Michaels, CTC
Dog Advocacy videoshttp://www.youtube.com/thepitbullhoax
Dog Training videoshttp://www.youtube.com/user/urbandawgs/videos
Deaths attributed to skateboards 2011
NCRC has a detailed list of dog bite related fatalities and the true stories behind the incidents.
Link to Maryland County Assembly
Type in HB 78 or Pit Bull into the websites search engine
Florida New Times