This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Understanding dog aggression
My insight, for what it's worth, is that it may be a mistake to attribute aggression only to specific breeds. Genetics is of course of the utmost importance, and some breeds are definitely more predisposed to attack and bite, but there are individual dogs of these breeds who are docile and friendly, just as there are aggressive individuals belonging to "friendly" breeds. This seems to show that the owner's attitude and handling of the dog are equally important.
I suspect the large aggressive breeds are usually selected by people who want to project a macho image. I mean, how often do you find a sweet gentle old lady picking a pitbull? Or a 'might is right' muscleman choosing a chihuahua? Stereotypes do operate in dog selection to a large extent. The macho type of owner then worsens his dog's temperament by encouraging the belligerent traits it has inherited. One often hears male owners bragging about how powerful their dogs are, what great guard dogs, how savage towards other dogs or intruders, what terrifying injuries the dog would inflict if not restrained by the owner, and so on. It's almost as if they are living out some "power" fantasy through their dogs...just as some owners seem to live out fantasies of high status and nobility through their pedigreed pets...
Now that I've probably offended a sizable chunk of the dog-owning public, let's get back to dogs. It is clear that "upbringing" has a lot to do with how a dog behaves, and wrong handling by the owner could probably make a monster out of just about any dog. In all this talk about recognized breeds, I am not excluding INDogs/Pariahs. Thanks to survival pressures, pushy aggressive individuals are as common among INDogs as in any other type of dog. In fact there is the added danger of this temperament being unwittingly encouraged by indulgent and compassionate owners who feel the dog should be allowed to do anything it wants after the hardships it has survived on the street. A common mistake is allowing a dominant male dog to sit on the bed.
I could go on and on...but I'm no expert. If you think your dog is growing aggressive, please please don't delude yourself that it is nothing to worry about. Get professional help without delay.
A behavioural view on dog aggression - Barbara Nibling
Aggression - The Humane Society of the United States
Dominance aggression in dogs - Karen L. Overall
Social aggression to unfamiliar dogs
Dog owner's guide - Canine aggression
If you'd like to recommend any other useful sites, do send me the links.