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#41 sea4th

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 02:51 PM

I keep rereading this thread. A lot of things are going through my mind.

I do want to say that I don't blame Sam for doing what he did. It was my mistake. I slipped up. I should have known better. I attempted to do with him what I don't even have to think about doing with my own dogs. I should have taken the precaution of muzzling him, but coulda, woulda, shoulda, doesn't change the fact that Sam has some problems. It's better that he bit me than some person unaware of his "issues".

I had immediately e-mailed the guy who was supposed to meet Sam on Wednesday. I apologized and told him what happened and that Sam would be euthanized. I was sort of hoping he'd respond by asking me not to euthanize the dog that he could take him and make it work.

He did respond and guess what. In his e-mail to me, he said that he started to ask me to do just what I was hoping. But he thought it over. He said that a few years ago, a roommate of his had a dog who also also had little bite inhibition. The roomie wasn't doing much with this dog, so this guy--Sam's prospective adoptor-- sort of took over the dog and began working with him, to the point where eventually this dog responded and the guy could do anything with him. And then one day the dog got out and bit two people---a child and the mom. He thanked me for being honest and feels bad about the situation. He did agree with most of the responses on this thread. (OTOH, he is looking forward to meeting Chase this weekend)

Another thing that I keep thinking about is about our family dog that bit my daughter. We got him as an adult. Had the people we got him from been honest, she might not have made the medical books as a guinea pig for microsurgery----52 stitches to sew her face together.

Another thought here. I have Juta, my Caucasian Mt. Dog. Therapy dog material, she's not. She is a reactive dog whose philosophy with a stranger would be to bite first and ask questions later. Living close to other people, I have to manage her life carefully so that she does not become a liability. What's the difference between her and Sam. First, to those humans Juta knows, she is absolutely devoted, but she does not freely make friends and she probably would bite a trespasser. That's what the breed was developed for--as a fierce protector of home and flock. I don't expect them to act like Goldens and I wouldn't think of approaching one that I did not know. But what's the difference here, that I manage Juta, but have a problem managing Sam. I know what to expect of Juta and the behaviors that her breed is known for. I expect a totally different behavior from a border collie, and would much more readily approach a strange BC. If a border collie, behaves like one of my mt. dogs, then I would consider that BC to have some serious issues. There might be more predictability for me with a dog that behaves in a manner characteristic for it's breed, than a dog like Sam, whose behaviors are different from most of the bc's I've known. If he's a cross, that might explain it, but I don't have a clue what the cross would be, to give me a clue as to what to expect in the way of behavior. IOW, Sam might just be more of a liability than my Mt. dog.

These are my ramblings and generalizations. I'm trying to come to terms with what's best for everyone, especially Sam. I value his life. I need to do right by him, because someone in his past didn't. And it's not looking too good for Sam right now.

Thanks all.

P.S. Kind of a "duh" moment--when I compared Sam's liability to Juta's---it all boils down to bite inhibition. I ramble when I'm tired.
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#42 Columbia MO

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 05:56 AM

Originally posted by Spottydog:
its a shame that she, and so many others, have to pay with their lives for what humans have done to them.

I'm writing in hopes of clearing up a common misconception. That is, that all (or even most) dogs who bite people are somehow not responsible. Many people blame "bad former owners," the fact that the dog was teased by kids once, lack of socialization by the former owner, etc. This is a huge fallacy. Just like with people, there are plenty of psychopaths, sociopaths, etc. among all animal species.

There are plenty of dogs that are just dangerous from puppyhood and no amount of training and counter-conditioning can make them totally safe.

I personally have owned dogs that have had terrible experiences with people. I once left my ACD, Dagger, tied outside my university library for 15 min. When I came back out, I found a large group of Chinese kids throwing rocks at him. He continued to love kids for the rest of his life, and in fact happily went up to meet the rock throwing kids so they could learn that dogs were friendly.

My JRT won an award for visiting 8 nursing homes a month while we lived in England. We went to a brain injury hospital weekly, and my dog was routinely picked up by his tail or his lips, had his skin pinched by people who were physically incabable of unclenching their nails, got hit contantly by people swinging/jerking their limbs uncontrollably. And he loved going there and never developed even the slightest fear of people.

I adopted two rescued BCs this year (one now rehomed with a stay-at-home clicker trainer and dog sports competitor). One was 9 months old, from a rural trailer trash kind of place--turned in to the HS due to "moving." She had never seen a collar, leash, strange dog, car, stairs, TV, toys, etc. But she quickly learned the ropes and was bombproof with everyone and everything--no fears, phobias, aggression, etc. I had to grab her a couple of times by her tail the first week and she thought that was a super fun game! She'd happily jump up on the grooming table and offer her nails for clipping, and tried to have me clip them again as soon as I was done, she liked it so much!

My other rescue was taken from a puppy mill seizure at 15 weeks old--before that he had likely never met a soul other than the breeder. He loves all people: men, women, kids, people of different ethnicities, men with beards, people in wheelchairs, etc. He was leery of other dogs the first couple of times he saw them, but now loves all of them too. He has no noise phobias either.

My show dog, purchased from a respected breeder is the only aggressive dog I own. As outlined in my earlier post, this dog was hand fed by 4000 people and still has numerous fears and phobias and does aggressive displays towards certain strangers in certain situations. He was BORN bad... it was certainly not due to a lack of positive training (he's 100% clicker trained) or lack of socialization (10 hrs/day for 6 months, then almost daily meetings with strangers for the next 3 years). And it is DEFINITELY not due to any mistreatment or bad experiences while with me or the breeder. It is just GENES.

A dog with a good temperament will keep that good temperament DESPITE any amount of abuse, neglect or lack of socialization.

A dog with a bad temperament will still keep that underlying tendency for aggression despite massive socialization and total LACK of any bad experiences with people.

Please do not blame yourselves, your dogs' socialization (or lack thereof) or your dogs' former owners for the aggression that you are observing!

Columbia, MO

#43 Hector

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 06:49 AM

I recently read the book "How Dogs Think" by Stanley Coren, PhD. It is a fascinating book based on a lot of scientific research and the author's own first-hand experience with dogs. It gives a good explanation of the many factors that can cause a dog's personality and behaviors to be "bad". For example, stress in the pregnant bitch can cause the puppies to have problems. And the way that the mother dog punishes puppies for out-of-line behaviors can have a major effect on how the puppy's personality ends up. There are factors like this that you would never suspect, but scientific studies have shown they definitely influence the puppy's personality for his entire lifetime.

#44 SoloRiver

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 07:02 AM

I'm writing in hopes of clearing up a common misconception. That is, that all (or even most) dogs who bite people are somehow not responsible. Many people blame "bad former owners," the fact that the dog was teased by kids once, lack of socialization by the former owner, etc. This is a huge fallacy. Just like with people, there are plenty of psychopaths, sociopaths, etc. among all animal species.

Dogs cannot be sociopaths. Or, since all dogs lack a conscience in the human sense of the word, I suppose all dogs are sociopaths in one way or another.

Dogs cannot be immoral. Dogs are, by nature, amoral, like small children. If one cannot blame a small child for misbehavior, one also cannot blame a dog.

If a dog is aggressive for organic reasons -- nature, rather than nurture -- he is less responsible for bad actions than he would be if he could make choices in the matter.

It is obvious that many behavior problems in dogs have a genetic component (which is largely the reason the project that I'm currently working with exists). It is also obvious that training and management affect how a dog interacts with the world around him. For example, I do not believe it is possible that a dog could be born with a genetic fear of "ethnic men." (I also don't see why you felt it relevant to specifically mention that "Chinese" kids were throwing rocks at your dog... but it does give me insight into why your other dog has a fear of "ethnic men." Just my opinion.)

Dogs are not humans. Humans are not dogs. Dogs live in a world of rules made up by people that are sometimes hard for dogs to follow. They are harder for dogs who are born with certain issues, but this doesn't make those dogs "bad." "Bad" is a value judgment that implies a "good/evil" dichotomy" that I think is totally inappropriate here. Demonizing dogs with behavioral problems doesn't help anyone understand these dogs, help these dogs, or even let them go when circumstances demand that euthanasia is the course to be taken. It is completely unproductive. It does not lead to mechanistic explanations, nor does it suggest appropriate courses of action.

But then again, people are really good at demonizing things. It's so much easier than actually trying to understand.
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#45 KelliePup

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 07:14 AM

Nicely put Melanie!

I'm suddenly reminded of Jack London's The Call of the Wild. Dogs do what they have to to survive, it's neither good nor bad, that's just the way it is.
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#46 Jabawaki

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 07:28 AM

[quote]Originally posted by sandra s.:
quote:
Originally posted by Jabawaki:
The dog has to go, and you can sleep good at night afterwards knowing he won't bite or harm a child. [/quote]Ouch. I don't think it's that easy. At this point, this could turn into an ugly, semi-philosophical "are humans worth more than other living things?" discussion.
To me, they are not. Who is most important to someone depends, in my personal opinion, not on species but only on the "bond" described by SoloRiver.

I think this story is heartbreaking, and I wish so much that I could help somehow, but I can't :rolleyes: . I can only do what someone else has already done, and wish you peace of mind.
[/QUOTE]It's not easy and it is heartbreaking.

#47 Columbia MO

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 07:30 AM

Yes, I do agree that breeding a fearful dog is as bad (likely worse) than breeding a dog with a known health problem. I am no longer on speaking terms with the breeder/co-owner of my fear-aggressive show dog. Even after realizing how problematic my puppy was, they went on to do a repeat breeding, then scheduled a third breeding between my dog's mom and a son of my dog's dad. I convinced them to cancel at the last minute... but they still bred the mom again.

The breeders definitely know they are breeding fearful dogs, as 10-20% of the puppies they have bred have been returned to them, some for biting. Several have been excused from the ring for biting judges, including the bitch they kept--a littermate of my own dog.

The problem with fear problems is that they are still the one problem that not a single breeder will talk about. You can see tons of websites where breeders show a photo of their champion, with the accompanying text: "Roscoe will not be bred and has been neutered due to hip dysplasia" or CEA, or PRA, or having produced epilepsy, or whatever. Breeders are admired for doing this (as they should be) and this kind of disclosure is a sort of "badge of honor."

I know of several lines of sport BCs that are known by many BC people to be dog-aggressive, fear aggressive towards strange humans, etc. However, I have yet to see a single site--whether an ABCA or AKC breeder--where they say "Roscoe was neutered because he has bitten several people." Hiding bad temperaments is still considered the "normal" thing for breeders to do.

Some breeders may not be deliberately trying to hide something, but are simply falling for the outdated and incorrect idea that all dogs are GOOD, loving, kind, etc. until they are ruined by those darned HUMANS! Therefore, they will blame the bad temperaments of their dogs on: "The puppy buyer didn't get him out enough," "He got scared by that Golden when he was young," "I sold him too early/late." Anything except for the fact that it is likely a genetic issue.

Anyway, I hope that someday breeders will feel like they can discuss bad temperaments in their lines (and spay/neuter those dogs), just as they are starting to be comfortable about doing this for physical problems.

Columbia, MO

#48 SoloRiver

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 08:09 AM

I know of several lines of sport BCs that are known by many BC people to be dog-aggressive, fear aggressive towards strange humans, etc.

If you can help identify candidate bloodlines for the UCSF behavioral genetics study, that would be fantastic. Would you mind emailing me privately?

Thanks.
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#49 MaggieDog

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 08:28 AM

Just another 2 cents on the genetic basis for bad temperaments...

My girl Maggie went through 3 other homes before she came to live with me at 11 mo. I have no idea what her life was like before I got her, but I think the worst thing that happened to her was probably a fight with another dog and lack of socialization, no actual physical abuse.

I think Mags maybe slightly genetically fearful, but she is not dangerous.

This dog that used to literally flip out when surrounded by more than 4 people spent a weekend with 50 kids, much of the time with 5 to 10 petting and hugging her at once. She has her CGC and is a therapy dog (her certification was renewed this year).

Even at her worst, Maggie would nip (no actual contact) at fast moving strangers and react to dogs, but she has never bitten - the closest she's come to that was when I stuck my arm out to block her from snapping at another dog: I got a small scrape before she swung her head away after realizing she had touched my skin.

I've volunteered at a shelter for 6 years and I have seen 12 week old puppies resource guarding so seriously that they offered multiple hard bites on a test hand!

There is are differences in genetic temperament and we need to be careful not to lump all genetically fearful dogs into the same catagory as those who are more predisposed to a serious bite. Yes any temperament faults that are genetic should be bred away from, but making sweeping generalizations can be pretty bad as well.

Not all fearful dogs are born that way or were abused or can/cannot be trained or will bite - the bottom line is to know *your* dog and what they are capable and to take that into consideration when/if you breed.
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#50 sea4th

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 08:38 PM

A post script to this thread. What happened to Sam, the dog about whom this thread was posted.

This is a link to a post of mine. Sam is the 3rd dog down in the first post.

http://www.bordercol...showtopic=21907
Vicki
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#51 mbc1963

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 07:14 AM

Wow. I wasn't here in 2005 and didn't notice the dates on all these posts... thought this was a live discussion, only to read the epilogue post and find that the dog had been given an additional three years.

Tough all around, whichever decision you had made.

Mary
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