Tag Archives: aggressive behavior

Dog Bites: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

There’s a new book out about the subject of dog bites, taking a multidisciplinary perspective.  I haven’t read it yet – but is positive to see a publication incorporating different views on the issue – all in one place.

Dog Bites is organized into nine sections titled Fundamental Principles, Perceptions of Dogs that Bite, Dog Bites and Risk, Investigative and Legal Issues, Health Issues, Handling the Aggressive Dog, Managing Future Risk, Prevention, and Concluding Comments.

Dog Bites A Multidisciplinary Perspective

The book’s description says:

The issue of dog bites and dog aggression directed at humans is frequently in the media. However, scientific research and evidence on the subject is scattered and sparse. Public and political opinions are often misinformed and out of proportion to the extent of the problem. Dog Bites brings together expert knowledge of the current situation, from a wide variety of disciplines, to provide information to the many people and professions affected by this issue. Subjects range from the practical, medical, behavioural, sociological, and theoretical, but the overall approach of the book is objective and integrative. Topics addressed include: the genetic basis of aggression; the public image of aggressive dogs; bite statistics; risk factors; the forensics and surgical aspects of dog bites; international legal perspectives; court evidence; first aid treatment; zoonotic disease potential; behavioural rehabilitation options; the risk to children; and a consideration of why some dogs kill. All contributors are academic or long-standing professional experts in their field, and they represent a wide spread of international expertise. This issue is an important one for pet owners, vets, animal shelters, and anyone who works with dogs, such as the police. This book will be a valuable resource for them, as well as for animal behaviourists, academic researchers, health professionals, dog breeders, and handlers.

I’m adding this one to my reading list!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Tie a yellow ribbon…

It’s Dog Bite Prevention Week in the USA.  What a better time to consider the role of The Yellow Dog Project?

The Yellow Dog Project is a global movement for owners of dogs that need personal space. It aims to educate the public and dog owners so they can identify dogs needing their space and so they understand how to appropriately interact or approach these dogs.

The Project promotes the use of a yellow ribbon, tied to the dog’s leash or collar, to show others that the dog is special and needs space.  Variations of the yellow ribbon include yellow bandanas or yellow leashes.

Photo courtesy of The Yellow Dog Project via Facebook

Photo courtesy of The Yellow Dog Project via Facebook

I personally like the use of leashes which not only are yellow, but have words to indicate the dog’s status:

Photo courtesy of The Yellow Dog Project via Facebook

Photo courtesy of The Yellow Dog Project via Facebook

Dogs wearing a yellow ribbon are not necessarily aggressive.  Many have fear issues which could be caused by pain from injuries, advancing arthritis, or surgery.  Others may be a rescue dog who has behavioral problems associated with a traumatic history.  Some dogs will be undergoing training for their behaviors, but haven’t passed their tests yet.

In my practice, I am working with some dogs who are reactive in public and would benefit from space.  I’m very happy to recommend to their owners that they tie a yellow ribbon to their dog’s leash to help indicate that their dog is special.

The Yellow Dog Project website contains links to country-specific websites that provide resources such as contact details for trainers who use positive reinforcement techniques.  The Yellow Dog Project is also on Facebook.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Behavioural problems in pet store dogs

Dogs purchased from pet stores are more likely to have a range of behavior problems than those purchased from small, non-commercial breeders, says a study by researchers at the Best Friends Animal Society and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The study involved 413 dogs purchased from pet stores.  Psychological and behavioral characteristics of these dogs were compared to the same characteristics in 5,657 dogs obtained from small-scale, private breeders.  (Most puppies sold in pet stores in the USA are sourced from large-scale, puppy mill type commercial breeders).

Results show that dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores showed significantly more aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people and other dogs. Dogs purchased from pet stores were almost twice as likely to exhibit aggression directed toward unfamiliar dogs than dogs purchased from small non-commercial breeders.

The pet store dogs also a displayed greater fear of other dogs and typical events in pet dogs’ lives, had more behavior problems when left alone at home, and experienced more problems with house-soiling.  These behaviors in young adult dogs are reasons typically cited by people who surrender their pets to animal shelters.

“The results were so one-sided that in the wide range of behavior problems we included in our analysis, pet store dogs failed in every single case to even obtain one more favorable score than the comparison group of dogs” says Dr Frank McMillan of Best Friends Animal Society.

The research team acknowledges that the exact causes of the behavioral problems observed are not known; until these causes are understood, they recommend avoiding purchasing puppies from pet stores.

Source:  BusinessWire media release

See my related post about the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies initiative

 

 

 

May I pet your dog?

I love walking Daisy in our neighbourhood and taking her to local parks, particularly our dog parks.  And what I really appreciate is when a child or adult approaches us and asks, “May I pet your dog?”

I always praise a child who asks me before touching Daisy, “Thanks for asking and yes – she’s very friendly.”  Teaching children how to approach a dog is a very important life skill.  A dog who isn’t friendly, or who has sore spots, may bite someone who touches it.  In addition, a child is on eye-level with a dog and so they can inadvertently challenge the dog with direct eye contact and – in the dog’s view – a too aggressive approach.

Daisy loves being petted anywhere on her body but,  generally, it is useful to teach children to pet a dog over its shoulder area and then with long, slow strokes down the body.  An approach to the head (at least initially) can be too much for some dogs.

Other key points:

#1 – Allow the dog to approach you, not the other way around.  Stand still and look down (away from the dog) which is less challenging to the dog. Let your hands fall loosely to the sides of your body with open palms and relaxed fingers.

#2 –  Let the dog sniff you.  This is its way of taking in information about you (remember that a dog has 250 million scent receptors in its nose and it can take in scents from a greater distance than we can).

#3 – Don’t reach for the dog or bend over it.  These motions are too aggressive for most dogs and even reserved or shy dogs may react.

#4 Respect the dog’s wishes if it doesn’t approach to interact with you or your child or shows signs of stress.

#5 For small dog owners, I generally advise  against holding your dog in your lap.  The dog will naturally have more of a protective instinct in this position, guarding you against harm, and feeling also that it is ‘trapped’ if it doesn’t like the person that is approaching.

#6  Watch the mouth!  A dog who licks its lips, pants a lot or yawns a lot is showing signs of discomfort.

#7  If your dog is going to have small children in its life, you can de-sensitise it by getting it used to having its ears, face and tail touched.  Regardless of how much we train people to avoid these areas with ‘strange’ dogs, these are naturally parts of the dog’s body that people are attracted to.

#8  Be prepared to accept a ‘no’ answer from the dog’s owner.  The owner knows their dog the best and there may be reasons for their refusal – some dog owners are more willing to share these reasons with others as part of saying no, others not.

If you have a child in your life that is simply dog-crazy, then here’s a picture book that will teach them the essential skills in approaching a new dog.  It’s May I Pet Your Dog?  The How-To Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids) by Stephanie Calmenson.  Another book to add to your Christmas shopping list!

Using Harry the Dachshund, this book shows your child the ‘right’ way to approach a dog.