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Tag: aggression

Chihuahuas from hell on “The Dog Whisperer”

This episode of National Geographic Channel’s “The Dog Whisperer,” recaps Cesar Millan’s Chihuahua conquests, leading up to his experience with El Diablo, described as the latest contender for “America’s meanest Chihuahua.”

Canine disarming: One family’s experience

One family’s experience with “canine disarming” — a controversial last resort for dogs who haven’t been able to lick the biting habit — was the subject of a first person account in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times.

Dog owner Diane R. Krieger wrote about her dog, Cotton, a six-year-old American Eskimo dog who even ”Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan couldn’t help,

“I had tried everything. Puppy classes and basic-training at the neighborhood PetSmart. A library of self-help books and videos. Even a pricey dog-aggression expert whose Israeli accent made me want to stand at attention. He ordered counter-conditioning and desensitization drills, supplemented by a low-protein diet and a doggie herbal remedy akin to St. John’s Wort…

“I tried clicker training, high-pitched electronic tones, pepper spray, throwing soda cans filled with rocks. I considered an electric shock collar but worried that in the hands of an amateur … it might do more harm than good.

“Finally, I appealed to the fabled Dog Whisperer.”

Krieger writes that Cotton became calm and submissive — until Millan left.

Running out of options, she considered surrendering the dog, and even euthanasia.

Then she saw an Animal Planet program featuring Dr. David Nielsen, a veterinary dentist based in Manhattan Beach, talking about a miracle fix: “canine disarming.”

Instead of extracting the four canine teeth, Nielsen cuts away 4 millimeters of tooth, then blunts the extra set of pointy incisors. Nielsen says he has “disarmed” some 300 animals in the last dozen years, not all of them dogs.

Kireger notes that Nielsen may be something of a maverick. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that disarming dogs, once fairly common, fell out of favor several years ago as behavioral modification techniques improved. The association is opposed to either tooth removal or disarming.

The American Veterinary Dental College agrees that disarming is controversial, but in a position statement adopted in 2005 it endorsed the procedure in “selected cases.”

Cotton’s reconfigured choppers cost Krieger $1,600, and led to no lasting physical side effects.

Nielsen told Krieger canine disarming does have psychological effects, though. “You can see it in their eyes almost the moment they wake up from the anesthesia. It’s like they’re wondering, ‘who took away my knives?’”

Cotton still bites, Krieger wrote, but inflicts little damage.

Are our economic worries affecting our pets?

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If your dog has been showing some uncharacteristic behavior problems of late, blame the economy.

According to Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance, some 3.35 million cat and dog owners have reported behavioral problems in their pets over the past 12 months, and “it is no coincidence that this comes at a time when many people are wrought with stress and anxiety” over the economy.

The study found that millions of troubled pets have caused damage to furniture, while others have suffered moodiness, aggression and loss of appetite.

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance manager, said this could all be due to the stress owners are under during the current economic climate.

“Cats and dogs can be very sensitive to their owner’s feelings and behavior, so changes in mood such as irritability, distress or remoteness could be sensed and leave the animals themselves agitated or depressed,” she said.

The findings come after the Sainsbury’s Bank revealed earlier this year that some 270,000 cat and dog owners have refused their sick pet veterinary treatment in the past because they could not afford it.

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.”

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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.

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