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Tag: aggression

Dog, given second chance, takes first place

mekoHere’s a sweet story out of Owosso, Michigan about a somewhat anti-social  stray dog who, given a second chance, became a prize winner.

Heather Good and her son Dylan Davalt found the Chihuahua-terrier mix in April 2008 in the woods south of Owosso, the Argus-Press reports. He was avoiding humans, and had bit one man who tried to approach him. After three weeks of coaxing, and a lot of treats, the dog consented to come home with them.

There, the dog, named Meko, proved to be a bit of a terror.

Meko didn’t get along with Dylan’s other dog, Sassy, and, for the first six months, had to be kept on a muzzle when guests came to visit.

Some people advised Dylan and Good to put down the dog because of his aggressive behavior, including Good’s father, John.

Meko and Dylan’s grandfather “weren’t buddies,” Dylan said.

But the family worked hard to train Meko, teaching him the basics, and working on his aggression. Meko and Sassy were taken to obedience training, and, for socialization, to a 4-H Club training program called “Hush Puppies.”

A year after taking him home, Dylan decided to enter Meko in a dog show at the Curwood Festival, where he dazzled the crowd and took first place honors.

“I didn’t figure that dog would amount to anything but a vicious mix breed,” said Grandpa Good. “He has made a complete turnaround.”

“My thing about Meko is that every dog deserves a chance,” his daughter said.

Of spaniels and Spaniards

A new study says the English cocker spaniel is the most aggressive dog breed – at least in Spain.

They may look like floppy-eared bundles of sweetness, but, according to the study, the English cocker was responsible for the highest number of canine aggression cases brought to a veterinary teaching hospital from 1998 to 2006.

“In our country and according to our database, the English cocker spaniel is the breed that shows more aggression problems,” says lead author Marta Amat, a researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

She and her colleagues analyzed 1,040 cases and found English cocker spaniels to be most often involved in aggression cases, followed by Rottweilers, boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds, according to Discovery News.

The study, published in the latest Journal of Veterinary Behavior, also reported that golden varieties of the breed were more likely to act aggressively, as were males.

Amat noted that “inadequate handling by the owners” is a contributing factor.

The English cocker is a different breed than the smaller, American cocker — though both breeds, like other Spaniels, originated in Spain.  The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America describes the breed as being “a homebody” that is “typically affectionate, loyal and reserved with strangers.”

Study blasts training methods like Millan’s

The debate raging here on ohmidog! – and in the rest of the world, too — just had a little more fuel thrown on it: A new British study says dominance-based dog training techniques such as those espoused by Cesar Millan are a waste of time and may make dogs more aggressive.

Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, after studying dogs for six months, conclude that, contrary to popular belief, dogs are not trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human “pack” and aren’t motivated by maintaining their place in the pecking order.

One of the scientists behind the study, Dr. Rachel Casey, in an interview with ABC News, said the blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some innate desire to control people or other dogs is “frankly ridiculous.”

Read more »

Does mimicking Cesar lead to dog bites?

Is “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan contributing to the number of dog bites?

That question is posed in an interesting piece by Sophia Yin in the Huffington Post, and it brings a long-simmering debate between two schools of animal trainers into the spotlight — right in the middle of National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Yin, a veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist, cites experts as saying that “Dog Whisperer” watchers trying to mimic the dominance-based techniques Millan uses may be — as the phrase goes — asking for it.

The article includes an anecdote from Dr. Kathy Meyer, president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), which is on record as opposing such techniques.

“Last year I consulted with an owner who was having trouble with his Shar-Pei becoming aggressive toward the dog-walker when on walks. The owner had no trouble with his dog on-lead outdoors, but the walker complained of escalating aggression. Upon further discussion, it was discovered that the walker claimed he was utilizing some methods demonstrated by Cesar Millan on the Dog Whisperer. Instead of walking the dog on a loose lead, he would place a choke collar high up on the dog’s neck, where it is the most painful and can shut off the airway…

“When the dog didn’t respond to a command, he would punish the dog by tightening the collar, even lifting the dog’s front feet off of the ground. As the punishment escalated, the dog began to growl, snarl, and snap at the walker. The walker even began to take a tennis racket on walks to try to subdue the dog when he became aggressive, a technique he saw on Millan’s televised show. My advice was simple. Find another dog-walker who knew how to calmly walk the dog on a loose lead and did not try to intimidate him. A new walker was introduced and the dog continues to do well, with no aggression on walks.”

The article also cites a recent study published in The Journal of Applied Animal Behavior (2009) that suggests those who take an aggressive approach with their dogs might find their dogs being aggressive too.

Read more »

The solution to violence (unless your a salmon)

Studies are continuing to show that more omega-3 fatty acids in our diets — whether we’re human or canine — can play a role in reducing aggression.

Of course, eating more salmon isn’t going to cure all the violence in the world – and especially not for salmon, which we’d have to slaughter much more of in order to be peaceful.

But it’s something you might want to take a serious look at if your dog has aggression problems, or if (dare I say it, don’t get mad) you do.

A recent Italian study has shown that aggressive dogs are characterized by low levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. Studies of humans have already indicated the same may be true in us.

In the Italian study, 18 adult male German shepherds with histories of aggression were compared to 18 male shepherds with no history of aggression.

Compared to the “normal dogs,” aggressive dogs showed lower omega 3 levels. “Altogether, our results suggest that low omega-3 fatty acids may adversely impact behavior in dogs,” the scientists said, resulting in greater propensity to aggression, and possibly hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Read more »

Simpson, Wentz turn to “Dog Whisperer”

Before Ashlee Simpson had her baby, Bronx Mowgli, she and husband Pete Wentz turned to Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan — not for child-rearing (or naming) advice but for help with their two bulldogs.

The pop star and her rocker husband were concerned about how their sometimes obsessive, sometimes aggresive bulldog, Hemingway, might react to a baby in the house. When they got him a second bulldog, Rigby, as a companion — in hopes of calming him down — it only made Hemingway’s aggression escalate.

So, in the months before Bronx Mowgli was born, Simpson and Wentz brought their worries, and their bulldogs, to Millan — well, actually he went to them. The experience is recounted on tomorrow night’s episode of “The Dog Whisperer” on the National Geographic Channel.

Millan works with the couple to help Hemingway overcome his aggression toward other dogs, his habit of attacking his own shadow, or any other shadow, and his tendency to assault the couple’s silver exercise ball. By episode’s end, those matters seemed well on their way to being resolved.

We can only assume the dogs are getting along fine with Bronx Mowgli (born Nov. 20) and not teasing him too much about his name — the first half of which comes from the borough, the second half of which comes from the Rudyard Kipling character, who, by the way, was raised by a pack of wolves.

Death at a PetSmart

Linda Deris took her dog Daisy May to the PetSmart in Abingdon earlier this month to buy her a leash.

And something terrible happened.

Daisy May, a beagle-collie mix, approached another customer’s dog — described in an ABC2 report as a bulldog – and before anybody could stop it, the bulldog bit Daisy May on her back.

“He just chomped down on her back and started throwing her around like she was a rag doll,” Deris told the TV station.

Five people tried to stop the attack, but not soon enough. Daisy May died on the way to the veterinarians office. Deris said the bulldog’s owner was given a citation and allowed to take the dog home.

Jennifer Simmons, a spokeswoman for PetSmart, said in a statement, “This was an extremely unfortunate incident and came as a complete surprise to us and the pet parents of both dogs. To our knowledge … the dog did not show any signs of aggressive behavior during interactions with other people and pets.”

Commenters on the TV station’s website include one self-proclaimed witness who said the two dogs met and wagged their tails. “Then the two owners ceased to watch their dogs. Store associates observed the bulldog staring at the beagle, tail wagging, as if he was looking at a toy, which was when he grabbed the beagle around the scruff area, as if he had a toy.”

“While this was a tragic accident, and something I hope I never see again, the fact of the matter is that when you combine two unfamiliar dogs, and a lack of supervision, you’ve got a recipe for disaster,” the witness added.

Deris told the television station she’s been having nightmares about the attack and is on medication. She adopted a new dog last week. “She was an angel, she was my world,” she said of her dog. ”She just was the sweetest disposition you’d ever want.”

Chihuahuas in the limelight

If you’re a Chihuahua these days, you take the good with the bad. They’re the topic of a soon-to-be-released major movie, devoted to their churlish, tenacious and persnickety ways. But they’ve also taken some raps in recent studies.

First came this one — designating Chihuahua’s second only to dachsunds on a list of the most aggressive dog breeds. The study rated the aggression level of 33 breeds and concluded smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behavior.

Now, a study by Esure, a British pet insurer, has ranked them second again — this time to Great Danes — in terms of destructiveness.

According to the survey, Chihuahuas destroy $1,376 dollars worth of stuff during their lifetimes, compared to $1,420 dollars for Great Danes.

Bulldogs, dachshunds and beagles also made the top 10, with pugs, saint bernards and pointers among the least ruinous, according to an article about the study.

The survey of more than 3,000 UK dog owners found the items most often damaged were soft furnishings and electrical goods – used as makeshift chew toys – and vases and lights, knocked over by wagging tails.

Most of the damage was done during puppyhood, according to the study, which concluded a dog’s size had little bearing on its wrecking ability.

So, take note — and take a pointer, Weimaraner, or Rottweiler – all you apartment owners, hotels managers and others who set an arbitrary weight limit on the dogs you allow. Size, at least in this particular area, doesn’t matter.

And take note, too, all those who might fall into the trap of rashly getting a Chihuahua when the movie propels the breed into even more of a fad. Make sure you’re willing to invest the time. And money. Chihuahua’s are also atop another list, as the most expensive breed of dog to maintain.