Dogs are said to be a man’s best friend. However, for some pet owners, this friendship can come with bumps in the road. Their pet’s innocent puppy eyes and drippy kisses can soon turn into violent biting, barking, and growling. There are some dogs where this transition can be seen at a more rapid pace than others. What leads these dogs to it? What causes their aggressive behavior? There is, in fact, a diverse range of factors that can alter the natural behavior of a dog. While it is common for all breeds to exhibit some degree of aggression, for a few it can grow to dangerous levels. This can create a potentially life threatening situation, not just for the canine owner, but also for society. Such as that owner’s neighbors!
This excessive aggression in certain breeds might be a result of either environmental or physiological factors. Dogs typically display their aggression by defending themselves, exhibiting violent behavior, barking, and sometimes even attacking the ‘apparent’ threat. In most cases, violent-aggressive behavior displayed by dogs can be linked to breeding, genetic disposition, and hormonal issues. Dog Breeding and Aggression Breeding can induce aggressive behavior in a dog more than anything else. Dogs that have been bred, upon reaching maturity, have a higher possibility of being prone to aggressive behavior. A number of dog breeds were developed with a goal to serve specific functionalities for humans. Historically, they were bred for guarding and protecting human life. Some had hunting abilities, and some had skills to fight others. Some dogs were also bred because of their gaming ability as well as for their tenacity. Today, many people domesticate dogs without knowing the history behind them. They select a handsome looking dog, or breeds that are popular with some celebrities. They consider these dogs because of their physical appeal. They do not think about the changes it could bring to their daily life and how it could impact their overall lifestyle. They want the dog to be a part of their family, but fail to pay heed to the captivated animal’s natural instincts and feelings. Guess, what happens next? Disaster!
Pet dogs that have already been bred today are rarely meant for the purposes for which their breeds were originally developed. But the reality is that these dogs still carry their original genetics. Their DNA is hard to change. They are instinctively still aware of the sense of purpose they were bred for. Their genetic makeup and DNA are not a conducive fit for the people inside the home, and particularly children. They are dangerous even for visitors and outsiders. No matter how hard you try, their predisposed behavior is ultimately going to get in the way of you living peacefully with your pet.
Other Factors Leading to Aggression Apart from breeding, a number of other factors can contribute to aggressive dog behavior: Anxiety Phobia/fear Lack of social exposure Imprinting by aggressive dams at an early stage Trauma Territorialism/jealousy Medical conditions and malfunctions Abuse Physical ailments Separation from mother at a very early stage Lack of direction/attention from the owner Forceful training and correction techniques Breeding Standards Although almost all dog breeds are capable of having nurturing relationships with their animal as well as human counterparts, some breeds can display an increasingly aggressive behavior as they grow up. This can be better determined with the help of breeding standards.
A canine owner can obtain valuable insights into the potential dog behavior through these standards. They can also get an insight about their potential threats this dog poses to the people around in the neighborhood and in their own home. Furthermore, they can know if their canine mate is going to adjust with them in the long run or not. The breeding standards tend to focus on the external appearance and movement of the dog. In some cases, these standards can also concentrate on the temperament. While there are no specific scientific documents, for each breed of dog there are a set of specific guidelines available. The details and definitions of every dog breed can also vary from one area to another. The standards tend to focus on the history of a particular breed and how were they important in the old times. The kind of purpose they solved back then is essential to understand here.
The standards intend to throw light on the “idealization” of a dog, in a good way though. The aspects that are observable externally matter the most here. However, the old traits, also known as “faults”, are not tolerated by today’s generation of pet owners. They idealize the dog and try to make sure they fit the image they are supposed to have. The breeding standards tend not to focus on any tests or health requirements to alter their originality. They do not have the specification for changing their genetics to make them work or train in a particular expected way. They only focus on the observable qualities of a dog. Contrary to the contemporary breeders, they do not set benchmarks for the behavior of a dog.
They do not standardize the way their health, qualities, and ‘job’ should be. Deceptive Appearance The outward appearance of a dog should not be taken as a parameter of aggression when families are vowing to adopt. A dog might appear to be gentle, scared, kind, and innocent on the outside, but in no time this appearance could deceive you. It could suddenly pose a threat not just to the adopting family, but also to the neighbors and visitors. Children are at the highest risk during these situations. Dogs tend to attack the children who come near them. Children are sometimes too curious and fail at times at recognizing when an animal does not want to be approached. Children also fail at times to understand when a dog does not want to be petted. Here is a list of dogs that are included in this category: Pit Bulls Pit bulls are known to attack and scare people for a very long time now. The pit bull dog breed comprises three breeds – American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier. The pit bull was bred initially as a “catch dog” meant for hunting purposes.
In some cases, they were meant to attack other animals and guard their human counterparts. Because of their “scary” nature, pit bulls were also known as the best dogs for herding the livestock of a farmer. Pit bulls have strong jaws. Their jaws can comfortably hold the prey for longer durations, once bitten. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that a pit bull’s jaw has distinctive characteristics. Their jaws are anatomically the same as those of other dog breeds. They are known to “lock” jaws when fighting with other animals. The fans of the breed do acknowledge, however, that the dog has slight differences in comparison to other dogs. Therefore, individuals and families looking forward to adopting pit bulls for their homes must learn about them. They should be educated about their characteristics and their breeding history. Certain states in the US have stated pit bulls to be “inherently dangerous.”
In fact, pit bulls are known as high-risk dogs by the US Army as well. In some military housing units, their presence is prohibited. There are even some people who believe pit bulls should be outlawed – the debate on this matter continues. Incredible shows like The Wire only illustrate the dangerous nature and what the pit bull is only good for. What happened on May 22nd, 2012 in Ohio seems to go against common sense. Ohio officially stated the pit bull will no longer be declared an aggressive dog. Any dog could be marked as being vicious or a community problem germane to their actions. Any police officer or animal control professional can make this salient distinction. Rottweiler In second place on this inglorious list is another “vicious” dog called the Rottweiler. It is known for similar reasons as the pit bull is. The Rottweiler is a breed of large dogs, which can weigh between 85 and 130 pounds. They have short hair, with a straight coat, usually black, with mahogany markings. The dog breed is inspired by a small town known as Rottweil in Germany. These dogs were earlier perceived to be butcher’s dogs.
Their original purpose was cattle herding and bear hunting. In the US, they have been popular as guard dogs, and are proudly serving the army as well as the police. The dogs are aloof and do not dwell on friendships easily. However, once they love their owners, and accept them, they become the most loyal and protective dogs. They will go to any extent to defend their home and their owner. Though they can mix with children quickly, but due to their nature, build, and history, they are not recommended as a pet for households. German Shepherd The German Shepherd also gets included in the category of aggressive dogs for multiple reasons. They are medium sized, weighing approximately 80 pounds. Their history traces them back to Germany in the 19th century. The breed was used by the French and the German military during the Second World War. German Shepherds are known to dislike strangers and hence are known to make excellent guard dogs. Apart from being military dogs with sturdy built, they are also an intelligent breed of dogs. In fact, they even served the purpose of being guide dogs for blind people. Owing to their intelligence, they are useful when it comes to search and rescue operations. This is why most narcotic teams have German Shepherds.
Siberian Huskies Siberian Huskies are medium sized dogs, known for their temperament. Their temperament is said to resemble that of a wild wolf. They are independent, dominant, and stubborn. They can weigh between 40 and 70 pounds, and have medium length hair. They usually are white, black, and gray (in combinations, though). They can show signs of dog aggression to scare unknown people. In fact, they sometimes even show these signs to their owner’s family. These dogs, as the name suggests, originated in Siberia. Their original purpose was to pull sleds for longer distances and durations during cold weather. They are also recognized as rescue dogs. Huskies are known to be territorial and are generally not good with people. Though good with children, they are not recommended for families. Chow Chow Chow Chow is another aggressive dog breed, which is known to be extremely defensive and protective. They are suspicious of people they are not familiar with. They are on this list because they have historically been responsible for many deaths. They are medium-statured dogs, weighing between 50 and 70 pounds. They have longer coats that can come in black, red, cream, and cinnamon colors. They are known to originate from ancient China or Mongolia.
They are known as hunters and herders. Their breed gained popularity among masses when President Calvin Coolidge was seen to pet one. Chows Chows are known to be dominant and assertive. Because of these two characteristics, they are not recommended as family pets. They are startled easily owing to their bad peripheral vision. Causes of Aggression The two Bs, breeding and behavior, primarily define the extent of aggression in a dog, and the kind of threat they can pose to humans. Breeding began to serve specific purposes in human society, which humans alone could not fulfill. The breeding procedure was performed to produce certain desired results in a dog. The breeds of dogs around us at present are a result of the manipulations we humans have done over the ages. Some breeds were meant to be homely, pampered, and gentle. However, some breeds (as listed above) were intended to rescue, serve, hunt, and protect.
Therefore, the dogs known for their aggression today might originally have ancestors who were naturally aggressive. It is unfortunate that these dogs were bred to make even more aggressive breeds for serving human requirements. The behavioral aspect plays a significant role in ascertaining a dog’s behavior. The dogs that have been abandoned, abused, and mistreated earlier tend to suffer from various behavioral issues. Aggression is one of them. The so-called aggressive dogs are raised without socialization skills, lack of nutrition, as well as affection. They do not know how to deal with different social situations. They do not know how to behave with other dogs and humans, and hence, will act unpredictably in different situations. Paying the Price No matter what the reason, there are approximately five million people in the US who suffer from dog bites every year. There are nearly 800,000 people who need to seek medical care as well. Many innocent children visit emergency rooms every day because of fatal or terrible dog attacks and injuries. The dog attacks and the related injuries fall under the state’s Public Health, Municipalities, and Welfare Police. There are various laws and statutes which regulate the violent behavior in a dog.
Together, these are known as Dangerous Dog Laws. These statutes can define and determine whether or not a dog is dangerous. Once a dog is declared to be dangerous and vicious, care and precaution must be taken by the owner to ensure their dog does not harm anyone, including other dogs owned by them or other people. If the Dangerous Dog Laws are violated in any way, the brunt of the situation has to be faced by both, the dog and the owner. The dog could even be at the risk of losing its life. The owner can face criminal charges, monetary fines, legal prohibitions, and even imprisonment. Some owners may have to pay higher premiums for insurance if their dog is found to be violent and aggressive but since many dogs are not insured this is not a severe deterrent. The main deterrent is the threat of being sued or possibly even facing criminal charges if your dog attacks someone and it could or even should have been prevented.
The dog bite attorneys at Slater and Zurz LLP want to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. They operate on a contingency. This means the firm will only collect a percentage if you are awarded compensation from your claim.
The majority of these cases can be resolved through homeowner’s insurance policies, but some aren’t that simple and may require the filing of a lawsuit. Regardless of the matter, the professionals at Slater and Zurz LLP legal team in Ohio have the experience and know how to help you every step of the way through your frustrating injury ordeal.