Poll: Training, Not Nature, Makes Dogs Dangerous

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The majority of American pet owners believe a well-trained dog is safe — even if it comes from one of the “bully breeds.”

Some dog breeds, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers, are considered truly dangerous by 28 percent of American pet owners, but an Associated Press-Petside.com poll found that 71 percent said any breed can be safe if the dogs are well trained.

“It’s not the dog. It’s the owner that’s the problem,” said Michael Hansen, a 59-year-old goldsmith from Port Orchard, Wash. “The dog will do whatever it can to please the owner, right down to killing another animal for you.”

“If they are brought up in a loving household, they can flourish just like any other dog,” agreed Nancy Lyman, 56, of Warwick, Mass.

Sixty percent of pet owners feel that all dog breeds should be allowed in residential communities, while 38 percent believe some breeds should be banned, according to the poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.

Denver and Miami-Dade County in Florida have pit bull bans that go back decades. The Army and Marine Corps have put base housing off limits to the dogs in the last few years.

Of the pet owners in the poll who support breed bans, 85 percent would bar pit bulls. Other breeds considered too dangerous were Rottweilers, Dobermans, German shepherds and chow chows. Seven percent said any violent, vicious or fighting dog should be banned and 2 percent said all large dogs should be outlawed.

Asked specifically about pit bulls, 53 percent of those polled said they were safe for residential neighborhoods, but 43 percent said they were too dangerous.

Age played a major role in the pit bull questions — 76 percent of those under age 30 said pit bulls were safe, compared with just 37 percent of seniors.

Janice Dudley, 81, of Culver City, Calif., was taking out her garbage when she was charged by a pit bull whose owner had been walking him in her neighborhood for years.

“He came within a few inches of my leg. It was shocking. There was nothing I could do. The owner controlled the dog and they went on their way but it was really very frightening,” she said.

She goes to great lengths to avoid the man and dog now, she said. “That was as close as I’ve ever come and as close as I ever want to be.”

Dudley would stop short of imposing a widespread breed ban, but she believes pit bulls are too dangerous. “I think it is in their nature to be more vicious than other dogs,” she said.

She blames breeders for the dangerous behavior of the animals and believes the dogs are genetically at risk. “People I know who have had them maintain they are the sweetest things in the world. I don’t believe it,” she said.

Older pet owners were more apt to support a breed ban than younger ones — 56 percent of seniors believe some dogs should be outlawed compared with just 22 percent of those under age 30.

Parents who own pets were no more or less likely than non-parents to say certain breeds should be banned.

But Tiffany Everhart, 40, of Splendora, Texas, wouldn’t have a pit bull. “I have a small child and I’m not going to take that chance.” A paralegal, she also believes some dogs are too dangerous for residential areas and she would support a breed ban.

“Every dog is different and should be evaluated on its own merits,” said “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.

“If a pit bull has good energy, and if he is socialized early and brought up in a balanced and structured pack environment, then I would consider him perfectly safe for a family with children,” Millan said.

Lyman, who has a 17-year-old, blind, deaf and crippled Shih Tzu, said any dog will bite if provoked — citing Martha Stewart’s recent run-in with her own dog.

Hansen blames the pit bull’s bad reputation on owners and the press.

“You have a tendency to sensationalize stories or put into them right down to the blood and gore when it isn’t really necessary,” said Hansen, who has two dogs, 9-year-old Lab-collie brothers named Chaz and Zach.

Still, she said Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation probably helped pit bulls’ bad rep because it showed that “people can reintroduce these dogs back into a society that’s not going to abuse them.”

“The owner is responsible for what an animal does. It’s totally your behavior, whether you have a good dog that minds well and is not a problem to society or you turn it into a vicious animal that will bite the mailman, the girl next door or grandma walking down the street,” Hansen said.

Betsy Adevai, 50, of Grand Rapids, Mich., said muscle dogs have become status symbols for young men who walk through her inner city neighborhood.

“You don’t see people walking cockapoos or fluffy puppies. I have five boys and they all have friends around here. They walk these dogs to say, ‘I’m cool,’ ‘I’m a badass because I got this dog,”‘ she said.

She thinks pit bulls “look like little football players” so she wouldn’t have one, but the custom seamstress doesn’t blame the dogs.

“It’s the attitude behind the people who raise them, not the dog,” she said.

The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted Oct. 13-20, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 pet owners nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • Jaime

    I agree with this. I think all large breed dogs need to be trained properly. Small breed dogs too, but there is a difference. My friend’s little 3-pound Yorkie is vicious to a lot of other dogs. But who’s going to be afraid of a teeny little dog that sounds like a chipmunk growling? That’s why vicious little doggies never get any attention. A person may get nipped, but they’ll never be mauled by a dog 20 pounds and under. So, yes, special attention is needed for medium to extra-large dog breeds, especially because of the damage they can do if not trained properly. FYI… pit bulls used to be called nanny dogs in England because people would leave their kids alone with the dogs.

    • Nick Swift

      What you’re not taking into consideration is the fact that, when a 3-pound Yorkie is vicious, it means the same thing to it as it does to a Rottweiler. All dogs have the same mentality, big or small. Just because a teeny dog isn’t as physically dangerous doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be trained exactly the same as a larger dog. A dog’s behavior reflects how well it’s been taught its place in society.

    • Stephanie

      I agree that all dogs should be trained properly, but I wanted to all to your comment “but they’ll never be mauled by a dog 20 pounds and under” that may be true to me and you, but what people keep forgetting with many of these small vicious dogs is that a 20 pound dog or less can cause the same type of damage to a child as a rottweiler could to an adult. As adults we find these small viscious dogs no threat, but do see the same small dog from the eyes of a young child it would be a different story.

    • Susan Orton

      EVERY dog needs to be trained to ensure they can get along in a human society. Small or large, it makes NO DIFFERENCE.

  • Sandra C.

    I feet it’s definitely the owner that is the problem. Unfortunately, people get the strong breeds, such as pitpulls, but don’t have the knowledge, time or ability to train them properly …. which leaves the strong breed to follow its instinct instead, therefore giving the pit bull a bad name. Inappropriate owners should be banned from having pit bulls. Pit bulls themselves should not be banned.

    • Shawn Lowe

      I completely agrees with that. Bully breeds because of their muscle mass and high energy need someone who gives them a lot of time and energy. I prescribe at least 30 minute walks each day, which I learned from Cesar. Good pack leadership, as he said is critical. Too many people get dogs, not just bully breeds, and then never give them one ounce of attention. So why have the dog? They are great companions, but they look to us for information about behavior. Pit Bulls specifically are very loyal, and that in itself is why they have been able to be so badly abused by human beings. They are good dogs, they are smart dogs, and they are much misunderstood and treated so badly.

  • Donna smith

    I have a bully breed, most loving dog I’ve ever had, I trust our lives to her. I was always afraid of bullies, she has opened my eyes

  • Caroline Slegers

    Any dog can snap at you and go for your leg, but understandingly it’s much more dangerous when this is a big ferocious dog. I understand that. I lived in Fort Greene Brooklyn, and rehabilitated several pitbulls, while giving birth to a baby boy and having a mini yorkie (whom by the way was the BOSS of every each one of those dogs). BUT…. Love makes the world go round.
    My dogs did not suffer years of abuse, they were young, but they did suffer for months, and I could see them blossom once I took them under my care.
    I have raised beautiful, honest, strong and protective dogs in an environment that preached animal abuse. Pit bulls have been banned from the Netherlands (my birth country) for years for several reasons, but once I moved to NY I met a breed that was longing for love more than any breed I’ve ever seen before. I WILL NOT give up on them, I refuse to give up on ANY breed just because of their bosses behavior. My Rednose Rico was everything to me and he still is, even tho he’s not in my life anymore. It just breaks my heart to see the hurt and pain people inflict on these beautiful creatures created by God.

  • Terran

    I am 22 years old and i own a pit bull, 3 labs, and a mix breed dog. I love them all but my favorite would have to be my pit. He is by far the most loyal dog i have ever owned and is extremely smart. Ive had him since he was a puppy and he is very well trained and well mannered. I do not ever worry about him biting an adult or a child. He loves my nieces and nephews and would never do anything to hurt them. I do not believe dogs are born mean, PEOPLE MAKES THEM THAT WAY! Dogs should not be punished for irresponsible owners! If you have not ever owned one of these so called breeds, give them a chance and you will be surprised what a loyal and loving breed they really are if raised in the right hands.

  • debbie

    i have a pitball x staff, he lives with my very old jack russell, he is 12, i ve recently had dexter nutz off, he has llived with dogs for all of his 2 year life, im his 4th home, well trained and lovin, im havin probs with other dogs, not fightin but he wants to play….i ve brought a citranella collar, that is not workin as, if his in flight and windy it blows past him….in the time i have had him, he has gone once for another dog, which was on the lead, and the owner panicked and coursed more distress, im gonna step it up with the collar that send electric shock, people find this cruel, i would find it harsh if i had to put him down…his brill, but when he sees a dog, i dont standed a chance, and well i dont wanna run the risk…xx

    • Lisa

      debbie, i don’t think that you are being responsible with the staffie’s life. you admit that you have trouble handling him. Now if you get a shock collar to punish him for YOUR falure to control him then you are completely confusing him as to what is right and what is wrong. THis leaves you with a dangerous situation just waiting to happen. you are gambling with this dogs life and you don’t care enough to seek a professional trainer’s help. YOu said that you don’t want to pur him down, so you MUST find soeone to train him and to also TRAIN you in how to control him.

  • Betsy Cross

    I am the proud owner of a boxer/pit bull and he is by far the best dog I’ve ever owned. He is shown a lot of love and affection and he reciprocates by being loyal and trustworthy. He is wonderful around children. That being said, I would still never leave him alone with a baby (I don’t think ANY dog regardless of breed should be left alone with a baby), but I firmly believe It really depends on the environment & training. Don’t leave a starving, abused, frightened animal (as so often happens with this breed) alone with a child, it will never turn out good.

    • Sadie

      my jack russell terrier was attacked (completely unprovoked) by a pitbull/boxer mix. she nearly lost her leg and an ear. she has never been the same. there was nothing the other owner of i could do. i know the owner bears the responsibility, but nothing will ever convince me that dog didn’t have an aggressive personality anyway. perhaps you should have to produce the dog to get the licsense and any aggressive dog should not be allowed in residential neighborhoods.

      • Heather

        First of all I have three dogs A jack russell, a border collieX and a german shepherd. And i have been an animal professional for many years. And if I guess what really happened is the jack russell was eyeing the pit the pit was eyeing the jack and neither one of you took control at the little signs so it escalated which is how those ALWAYS start. I know both breeds well. not to mention that basic dog behavior. Now the problem is your blaming breed and not the lack of training on knowing dog behavior on both your parts. And that the BIGGEST problem. Blame Blame Blame is all so many do, take full responsibility for your part on this to, sounds like the other person is trying to in this, and the world will be a better place. where I live we have banned pits from city limits and I disagree with this. harsher punishment for bad owners is what’s needed and educational programs for first time owners on dog behavior not just sit stay down are needed.

  • Dania

    I’ve had all those breed’s in my care and they were all street dog’s for some reason they would just follow me home . My first dog was a beautiful Rot named Nala and she was my best buddy I made sure she knew that the kid’s were her’s and that I was her’s .She took care of us and we alway’s felt safe,but I made sure I knew the breed first and I was trained to to understand her character and personality. I never took her around other dog’s we were the pack and I was Alpha I don’t care how sharp her teeth were ,she knew not to mess with me it was respect. I had a German Shepard and a Chow,Labrador ,Great Dane,American Staffshire Terrier (Pit) Not the short kind I had two and they were brother’s . I had them not all of them were my own ,they were in my care and I was looking for a home for them. All placed and they all are still good. None of them have to share their territory. Dog’s all have they’re personalities and they have temperment’s and some have more patience than other’s. You have to consider where they come from and they’re past . Many have been placed ,but I would never consider putting my safety and that of my neighbor’s at risk,just because I want a dog. I also don’t think their should be a breed ban,because any dog can attack,if it feel’s threaten or is protecting it’s master.Dog’s use their instinct not common sense that’s our dept.Dog’s have to be neautered in order to keep them in a more controlled mood. I would keep my dog in the house in it’s own back yard not around other dog’s only because I don’t know what other people’s dog’s behavior was and also because of fleas and any other diseases. I protected my dog’s from other dog’s. I also made sure that I put up a sign on my gate that said “Beware of Owner”. I wouldn’t want to be somewhere were they would’nt accept my kid’s or my dog’s .

  • Katherine

    My dog is a crossbred Rottweiler and German sheppard. He’s like the reincarnation of
    Big Bird (ironically, he’s called BIG LeChien). Nothing can get this dog mad. He is obedient and always eager to please. My nieces age 4 and 2 pet him all the time and he is very gentle with them. I totally agree: point the finger at the owner, not the dog (breed)!!

  • Arlene

    I agree with the fact that there are some sweet and well-behaved pit bulls out there. However, if I am walking my dogs and I see any breed of dog coming toward us, I am on alert. We have walked past a border collie who suddenly attacked my 90 lb. male Lab. I was told by the owner that the dog didn’t like “black” dogs. Bad owner, not bad dog!

  • rebecca

    I have two rescued pit bulls. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how sweet, loving, smart and wonderful they are. People stop me on the street all the time to tell me how beautiful they are. They love people and kids. The only way they would ever hurt anyone is by licking them to death. We’ve were attacked by a lab while out walking and I’ve met tons of golden retreiver owners that have been bitten by their dogs but no one wants to ban labs or goldens. If pit bulls weren’t used for dog fighting this wouldn’t even be under discussion. The little rascals dog, hellen keller’s dog and the army’s original mascot dog were all pits. No one was banning them then. The problem isn’t vicious dogs. It’s vicious people like Michael Vick.

    • Stevie

      At one point (and possibly still) Golden Retrievers led the pack as the most common biters in the dog world. I’ve always lived Goldens, but because they are seen by many as “safe” digs, they are frequently put in unstructured situations and allowed behaviors that can prompt biting. ALL dogs have the capacity to bite-regardless of breed and ALL dogs can cause serous damage if their teeth hit the right (or should I say wrong) place.

  • Valerie

    The problems are definitely with the owners and not the dog. A dog will learn to become aggressive if the owner never stops or prevents a dog from being aggressive. I see several breeds, all that might consider dangerous, on a daily basis at the state park where I take my 87 lb. Lab/Rottie mix to everyday. I see Dobermans, Pit Bulls (even though they aren’t allowed in Denver) Rotties and German Shepards, all off leash, all well-behaved and all who do not have an ounce of aggression.

    Then I see some owners in my neighborhood, who never walk their dog and just leave them in the backyard to bark all day. Yesterday, it was 13 degrees below zero and someone left their boxer on the porch freezing to death until Animal Services came to rescue him. Those actions: ignoring, neglecting, abusing and not interacting and showing no care for their dogs, is why I believe that dogs sometimes do get aggressive with humans.

  • Karen

    I’ve owned several dogs over my lifetime (I’m 60–a young 60), and my favorite dog was a Rottweiler. She was the sweetest animal–huge, around 125 lbs. We trained her to chase squirrels away from the birdfeeder… one day she caught one in her huge jaws. We yelled for her to put it down and she dropped it right away. It ran away unhurt, but I’m sure shared an exciting tale with his squirrel friends that night. I was amazed at how some people who came to our home would be afraid of her… while others were very comfortable. Those who were comfortable would always comment about looking into her eyes and seeing how harmless she was. I believe if anyone ever tried to hurt one of “her family,” she’d have fought them… but that’s a good thing!

  • Alice

    I would NEVER own a pitbull or bully type dog. I think that people who own them say a lot about who they are. I have a golden retriever and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel…both rescues and they are the BEST dogs. I don’t care what people say about it being the owner’s fault, there have been too many people bit , mauled or killed by this type of breed to say it isn’t their fault. My mother was bit in the face by a bully mix that had lived in a family with 3 children for years. No explanation, she just “turned”. I have no sympathy for these breeds or the people who champion them. NONE.

    • Maria

      I agree with Alice. We have a Great Pyrenees and a Doberman. I may love all animals but never in million years are you going to convince me to have a Pit Bull around my children. I have done the research…while a majority of the responsibilty lies with the proper owner socializing and proper training at a young age, these dogs are a problem in society and public safety comes first.

    • Anette Nixon

      Wow Alice you are one of the most un educated people in Dog breeds out there. I have been working in Veterinary offices for 20 years and never once bitten by any bully breeds. And have owned 4 rescued pitbulls. However what I have been bit by are chihuahua’s, Min pin’s, poodles , Spaniels, and yes even a Golden. So therefore you are extremely misinformed and ignorant. Pit Bull’s are one of the most loyal breeds out there, and they have fought for our country. Let’s face it their name says it all. AMERICAN PIT BULL, AMERICAN STAFFORDSHIRE.

      • Alice

        Oh Wow, Anette,
        You are just the type of owner I was talking about. You obviously attack people who don’t agree with you. Enjoy your Pits. You belong together.

      • Deb Sharp

        So the thrust of this is that Alice (I haven’t got the guts to put my full name in here) can say any thing but nobody is allowed to disagree or have an opposite opinion than her without being labelled an “attacker” Just shows how truly ignorant, pathetic and sad people like Alice are. A mind like a steel trap…rusty and shut tight. And Maria, my husband was attacted by a doberman while trying to hold up our little dog….should we have yours put to death just in case the entire breed is dangerous??

    • Joost

      Come on Alice, people that want an agressive ‘cool’ dog always pick these breeds. That’s why it’s so often these breeds that attack people. No breed is better or worse than other breeds! (Don’t make me play the race card ;p)

    • Corey

      As far as i know, a Bosten Terrier is classified as a bully breed. And I spend a whole lot of time with a boxer across the street. When i am watching or just spneding the day with him, this is the course of actions we go through. First take him for a 1 hour walk (first 20 minutes are running) at around 7:30. We sometimes bring my two little dogs along (pomeranian and yorkie) but they usually arent up for the running so i walk them seperately. After the walk we go back to my home and the three dogs will recieve breakfast. We then might go out and run out a little more energy with a nice game of fetch. I know i am the pack leader of this so called “ban worthy” breed. We always take a pretty sort walk (15-30 minutes) with the three dogs before they have dinner to give them the satisfaction of working for their food.
      Corey, age 14

      PS… if i can handle this so called “ban worthy dog” i dont see how humans arent in control of every dog.

    • mike

      alice just by the comments you have left I would say that most people would say it says alot about you (not good) and maybe you should stay in you “golden” home and live in fear

  • Joost

    I’ve been volunteering at the shelter for 1,5 years now, and some of the sweetest dogs I’ve met were rottweilers, and a pitbull.
    You can recognize the type of people that train their dog to be agressive pretty easily, and we simply don’t let just anyone take a dog home.

    • Candace

      I work at an animal shelter in an inner city where the majority of surrenders we get are pit bulls… Every dog that comes in is evaluated on their behavior and temperament (assuming they are friendly enough for us to take out in the first place) and believe it or not we have had more small dogs fail evaluations for aggressiveness than pit bulls (despite about 80% of our dogs being pits).

      And for those people who reference the rate of attacks from pit bulls most likely base it off of news reports… the news people do not publicize “family” breed dogs such as retrievers when they attack people and it has also been known that they will assume the dog is a pit bull if it looks even slightly like one, many dog attacks reported are either from mutts or dogs of another bully mix but the pits get blamed because they are the scapegoat breed right now.

      • Joost

        Yeah Candace, small dogs and small people seem to feel a need to prove their toughness more often.

  • Billie Rogers

    I was mauled by a German Shephard at the age of 5. I grew up with a fear of dogs in general. Big dogs. Little dogs. It didn’t matter. Little dogs even made me extremely nervous until I was around them enough to calm down. I have two toy Poodles, a Boxer/Pit mix and a Siamese. My Boxer/Pit was 2 months old when the rescue shelter found her, her sister and their mother wondering the streets. I instantly fell in love with her. She had a flea infestation and 75% of her hair was dug out. Her skin was RED from the irritation. After 2 months of medicated baths nightly and Benadryl for the itching, she finally looked like a puppy should. I knew she had to be socalized EARLY and that I did. She also gets plenty of exercise (and believe me, her size required a LOT of it). She also knows I’m the pack leader and she respects it. At first, I didn’t know she had Pit Bull in her. They knew her mom was a Boxer, but didn’t know what the dad was. I’m glad I didn’t know she had Pit Bull in her when I adopted her or I wouldn’t have. Now, she’s 9 months old and weighs 55 pounds and everyone that comes to my house or meets her during our walks fall in love with her. She’s very sweet, playful, loyal and NON aggressive. I’ve even caught her and my toy poodles eating from the same bowl at the same time. I have separate bowls for them. Why they were doing that, i don’t know. They each have their own beds, but we usually find them in the same bed together. She does not have a problem with meeting our neighbors’ dogs on walks. She’s happy whether they tag along or not. She also happens to adore kids. I have a 13 yr old and she adores her immensely. She’s the total opposite fo what I expected and had believed my entire life. It’s NOT the breed or the dog’s fault. It’s the pack leader/owner. If you get a dog to make you “look tough”, that’s the dog you’ll get… the aggressive powerhouse. If you get a dog and are not prepared to be responsible with it, you’ll get a dog that does whatever it wants and cause lots of problems. Saying it’s the breed is the same as racism against mankind. We fight against THAT form of racism. Why should it be any different with our animals?

  • Joost

    I’d like to ad that a dog is more likely to bite if you get fearfull when you see him. Especially if you’re walking your dog, who then feels from you that he should be scared. It’s not only the owners mistake, it’s yours too. Not always obviously

    • Billie

      You’re absolutely correct. I had to work to overcome my instinct to tense up and/or run which only makes the problem worse. One of my neighbor’s black labs had a hand in that. I was in my front yard and he came running at full speed across my yard. I froze in place. The entire time I watched him run at me, I had “flashbacks” of the previous dog attack (I have 2.2 acres, so it felt like forever). He put his front paws on my shoulders and started licking me. I had lived here for 2 years and he had never came into my yard before, but I’m glad he did. After that, I started talking to trainers, other responsible dog owners, etc. My mother is still fearful of any dog over 10 pounds (even after 28 years) so, I was never allowed anywhere where there was a bigger dog when I was growing up. It took me getting married and moving away to overcome that fear.

  • jamie

    I don’t think any breed should be banned, because its the owner of the that makes them good or bad.

  • ddaisy

    There is no particular breed that would be more aggressive then the other..I agree with people..it’s the dog was raised and trained.

    I’ve heard so many stories where people get attacked my small dogs and labs (so it’s all about the how you treat,raise and train your dog)
    I have the most loving dog in the world (pitbull blk lab mix) extremely friendly and very well behaved,

    Another thing; instead of teaching your puppy “tricks” take him/her to the behaviorist who will address bad behavior in early stages.

  • DEW

    It’s not just a loving household that they need (they’re not children, they’re dogs), they need discipline and training. I think the problem is that most people have no idea how to properly train and discipline pit bulls. Other dogs can get violent, yes, but pit bulls have an extraordinarily strong jaw that is next to impossible to make them let go once they’ve latched onto someone. They’re always nice until that first time, and that first time they attack can be devastating or even deadly for it’s victim. I don’t know about banning, but I do think there should be some kind of extra care to make sure that the owners are responsible and train their dogs well and keep them contained in their houses or yards. And ps. – Martha Stewart’s dog didn’t bite her, She startled her (him?) and she jerked up and the dog’s head hit her lip.

    • Maria

      Very well said, Dew!!! My thoughts exactly…

    • Nick Swift

      It’s been proven time and time again that a pit bull’s jaws aren’t extraordinary in any way. In fact, plenty of other breeds have stronger jaws than they do – and there’s nothing that makes it impossible for a pit bull to let go. Their skeletal structure and musculature is the same as any other dog’s. A dog might be strong willed and reluctant to let go, and pit bulls are very well known for their stubbornness, but that goes straight back to training your dog right.

      I agree, though, that there should be some extra measures taken to ensure that a dog is going to a responsible home.. but I feel that way about any breed of dog.

  • Margie

    I believe what most pit owners are talking is true. I think it depends on how people raise and train them, but I also need to address my concern. I have owned 4 dogs at different times and raised them all in the same way. Lots of love and exercise, lots of training etc. I cannot name which one was my most favorite, I loved them all. BUT I have found that they all have different personalities – even if they all are very similar herding dogs, I totally trust my current dog socializing with other dogs, but I had one who had a difficulty getting along well with other dogs, and another one whose personality sort of changed in the process and became more protective and not very friendly to other dogs. Any dog who is friendly to people does not mean he/she is friendly to other dogs, and in my case, since they all came from shelters, I do not know what happened to them to form their perceptions and behaviors to other dogs. I am trying not to label dogs by breeds, but I have seen overly aggressive Huskies and other breeds particularly at dog parks, and I try to be observant when these breeds join the pack. If I sense some of them getting agitated, I just try to direct my dogs in a different direction or leave just to be overcautious. I don’t think this is a Black and White conclusion, or you can simply point fingers to owners for everything. All I am pointing out is, I think there’re specific breeds who tend to get more aggressive in general, which does not necessary mean it’s true to every dog of the breed. Stereotyping isn’t the answer, but just be alert when you introduce your dogs or kids to some breeds.

    • Maria

      Another very well stated comment…we do the same at dog parks.

  • Cynthia

    I am a pit bull owner and I have had Marley Puppy since she was a pup. She is the happiest dog I have ever owned and she is by far the smartest. But I still believe in the ban as these breeds are CAPABLE of causing serious injury and death. I trust Marley because I have raised her with love and she knows that I am the “leader of the pack”. But she is a willful dog and she requires A LOT of patience and exercise, exercise, exercise !

    • Maria

      Thank you for being such a responsible owner!!! You have a tremendous amount of common sense in this matter. While I have my strong opinions over Pit Bulls, I would certainly trust your Pit Bull over another coming from an uneducated enviromment. Also, another important point, transferring care from owner to non-owner can bring problems. I would never have anyone watch our dogs who does not have the alpha leadership for these dogs. Our Great Pyrenees and Doberman have never shown aggression (both age 2) and are very people friendly and dog friendly but do require strong leadership skills.

  • Louise

    Simple rules to owning a dog …any breed, any size.
    1. When buying a dog make sure you know what you’re getting! Even a registered breeder can become your worst nightmare. What you don’t know is there are certain breeders out there that have line bred their dogs, ( father to daughter sister to brother and so on ) for looks..and from this you can get a dog that will be mentally unstable, and have an enormous amount of physical defects that will surface on in later years. Ask to see the breeding papers and the linage on the pup. One more important thing you should remember…pick a dog that suits you. If you jog, run are very active and plan on bringing the dog with you by all means pick a high energy dog. If you are a lower energy person, say one that likes to go for a long walk and enjoy the sights then pick a lower energy dog. Then finally if all you plan on doing is being a couch potato well I suggest you a cat or maybe a few fish to entertain yourself with.

    2. Buying from a private owner or even adopting… get as much information on the dog as possible. Spend some time with it before making your choice and bringing it home and then realizing you’ve made the wrong choice because this ends up with the dog being handed over to someone else or ending up at the shelter once again. Most shelters will charge you an average of $100.00 to take the pet back. So keep this in mind.

    3. When you have finally made your choice it doesn’t end there. It’s very important that you should socialize your pet regardless of the breed. Walking, handling, grooming, nail clipping even making sure you can put your fingers inside the dogs mouth, ears without getting growled or snapped at. These routine rituals will insure your dog will behave for the groomer, the vet and so on.
    Boundaries, limitations, should be in place as to how you want your dog to dog to behave and where he is allowed and not. The size of the dog should not be an issue …most larger breed dogs..Saint Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundlander can be just as happy lazing around the fire with you on a cold night or lying on the porch or in the backyard while you do your gardening or have a tea and watch the cars go by. Yes they still require an energy release but they are just as content to hang out at the house with you. I had a Wolf hound mix that adored lazing around in my bed all day. He was great with children and tail wagging was his way of showing how excited he was. More often you found him in my bed or under the dining table.This is not to say all wolfhounds are like this but mine was. So choose a breed of dog/ or a mixed breed that suits your energy level. There are so many things to go over but I can’t put them all down …. Please just don’t discriminate against the breed of the dog…it comes down to breeding and how the dog is brought up…just like your child….beat, neglect, starve the child over and over and how do you think that child will turn out when they grow up? This pretty much applies to how we treat our animals. Your child has boundaries, limitations, are expected to behave accordingly …this is what you must expect from your pet as well.

    Along with socializing… training… it doesn’t come in a day…. training is every day. There is always something new to learn and always something that needs to be taught. There is pushing the dogs nose in his urine or stool to teach him a lesson…this doesn’t work!!!!! If the dog has an accident it really is your fault for not catching the signs that he needs to go out. I have never been a fan of paper training, or pee pads … If you can’t get up off your butt to get the dog out when he needs to go ..well. Even a pup can be taught to go to the door on time and hold it. I adopted a 6 month old pup that was taught to use a carpet on the balcony and had pee pads on the floor all over the house….please … When puppy has a nap and wakes …you need to take him out. and stay out till he goes. It can be quite maddening sometimes but you don’t come in until the deed is done…rain or shine. when puppy eats…give him about hour after meals then keep a watch on him..he will most likely have to go out. Any where from a week on and you should have a pup that will associate going to the door with having to relieve himself/herself.

    Another thing that you have to think about are the costs in owning a dog,(or any pet )…food, vaccinations,tags,the costs of spaying and so forth. Everything factors into this. Anyway I think I better stop here or risk writing a book….Have a great day…Remember….Don’t Breed Discriminate !!!!

  • Maria

    Thank you, Louise. This is helpful for those considering pet adoption.

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