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Telltale signs of aggression

August 8th, 2007, 10:41 AM
I was watching the dog whisperer on National Geographic the other day, and there was a pittbull terrier on the show who was having some behavior problems.

She dug, she chewed peoples hair, she barked a lot, she chased her owners around a little, etc. Basically, just a typical misbehaving, but innocent dog. She was also very lovable, slept with the owners, and even let the resident kitten "nurse" on her. Weird, I know, but still lovable. The dog also lived with 2 other cats, a smallish type dog, a bird, a lizard, hamster, etc in peace

When Cesar (the dog whisperer) came on, he asked the family what sort of excercise the dog got. They responded that she plays in the backyard with the other animals, but thats it. No walks, no real excercise, no mental "stimulation" I guess.

Cesar responded that the reason the dog was acting poorly was because it was "Bored. Out of her mind" His remedy was that she should be taken for walks at least 5 times per week to help her excercise and alleviate her boredom.

Now, this episdoe was cute and all, except for one thing. The dog guy said that he was really concerned for this family, because their dogs behavior was, in his opinion, leading up to a bite. He said that the dog wasn't being aggressive, but thought that it might attack one of its owners or other animal residents in a sort of escalating behavior problem fashion.

So this got me a little worried. I always thought that if you gave your pets a loving home and treated it with respect and affection, you'd have the same sort of reaction back. I know you need to give your dog excercise and that its important to have your dog respect you as owner, but to think that a dog could bite you just out of "boredom" seems like a scary thought.

Is this a scare tactic to make the show more interesting, or is this a realistic possibility? He mentioned the breed specifically, saying htat pittbulls are in the news more often because their owners dont give them the type of environment they need. Is this true too? So even if you give a pittbull love, food, water, and playtime, if you don't excercise it enough or challenge it mentally enough it could end up attacking you out of boredom?

Any clarification on this would be really helpful! Thanks!

August 8th, 2007, 11:13 AM
I think you will find that not every one is a fan of "The Dog Whisperer".

Dogs don't attack out of boredom. They tear up your house or your yard. They attack to defend themselves or their territory. If they are dog aggressive or human aggressive then they may appear to attack without warning - but to those who KNOW dogs, there IS warning!

Pitties are medium sized, powerful, thinking dogs. If you treat one like a house ornament - that is to say, if you play with it when you feel like it and assume that letting it play in the yard with the other family dogs is all the exercise that the dog needs - you are in for a rude awakening. Not because the dog is bored, but because you have given it no reason to treat you as the alpha and the dog will assume that position.

Pitties - particularly because of the bad press that they get on a daily basis - MUST be socialized and trained from the time they come into the home until they die. After completing classes, it is important to do things daily to be sure that you are still the alpha and your dog is not stepping up into your place. Often times, this is as simple as taking the dog for a "proper" walk around the block - with heeling and sitting when you stop, etc.

Also, certain behavior should be expected in the home EVERY SINGLE DAY. Simple things like sitting before being fed, getting off the couch when told, sitting before going outside.

August 8th, 2007, 11:44 AM
Just out of curiosity, what is the popular opinion on the show? This was only the 2nd time I've seen it, and the thing I liked about the show was that he believes all dogs are easily rehabilitated through trianing of people

The thing I didn't like was how all the problems were built up into "huge disasters or potential disasters" to make it seem more interesting

I have noticed that many people view their dogs as actual children or people on this board, and he encourages owners not to do this. To view the pet as a an animal, as a dog, and as their specific breed. Not treat it like a person. Is this where the conflict is coming from?

Does this apply just to that pitts in breed, or does it apply to all dogs?

If a dog wants to assume alpha position, will it always do it through biting/aggression?

Do all breeds need constant training/socialization, or is this specific to the more commonly tagged "aggressive breeds"?

August 8th, 2007, 12:49 PM
Most people who train their dogs and compete are not big fans. Some of the techniques that Ceasar uses: flooding and alpha rolls - are antiquated and can be cruel. For someone with little or no dog experience to alpha roll a large angry dog is simply very dangerous. Besides, he only shows part of the training in his show and it is usually the "easy" part. If someone is looking for a quick fix for a serious behavioural issue, they think that his methods work in the amount of time they see on the show. This is not the case and some issues can take months of work.

While most people here may seem to think of their pets as their children, I think that you will find that a majority of us know that our dogs are really dogs, with the ability to bite and misbehave. We know the importance of socialization and training and we would no more allow our dogs to run loose and crazy in public then we would allow our children to run amok at the local grocery store.

No, most dogs don't assume the alpha position through biting. They are given the position. It starts with commands that are not followed through on - ie: come, and grows from there. The problem comes when the command is given and the owner suddenly expects it to be followed.

And yes - all breeds of dogs need to be socialized and trained. Not just until they are a year old but always.

August 8th, 2007, 04:52 PM
yep, all that LavenderRott said and a bit more. most of the impression tha tpeople here give concerning their pets being like their children is more of love thing and not a behavioral thing. its safe to say that most here would walk through fire for their pet and maybe fire and 10 hells for their children. its a sense of responsibility i guess.


August 8th, 2007, 05:03 PM
I have noticed that many people view their dogs as actual children or people on this board, and he encourages owners not to do this. To view the pet as a an animal, as a dog, and as their specific breed. Not treat it like a person. Is this where the conflict is coming from?

I view my dogs as children yes... they are treated better than some kids I know :sad: however, when its not all fun and cuddles in here ( ie, scuffles over food, toys ect) each of the dogs are viewed as what they are. I dont remove my Rottie mixes in the same manner as I do my Cocker when there is a "scuffle" about to occur.
My Border is obsessed lately with challenging me and my boyfriend shrug: again, we dont veiw him as "Sneaky Meik" when this is happening, we deal with him in a manner that is understandable as well as suitable for a BC.
We have to put our Rottie/Shep or Rottie/Boxer thinking caps on when it comes to those 2.

If a dog wants to assume alpha position, will it always do it through biting/aggression?

Oh no... Meik challenging us right now with "stupid" things is his attempt at dominating our "pack" he is after alpha position and we cant let it happen. Challenges usually start small and escalate the more you allow them to.

August 9th, 2007, 12:22 PM
LavenderRott has probably said it all...:thumbs up Pits are popular to pick on. They are (mostly) highly intelligent dogs and do need hours of hard exercise, lots of stimulation, social interaction with both people and dogs and a consistent, firm hand as a leader.

But so do most dogs.

As for your other question, my dogs are my dogs. I love them truly, madly, deeply. I can't expect them to be children ~ they're not going to grow up and support me are they ? :laughing: But I give them all the physical care, medical attention and loving I would give a human being under my guardianship.

August 10th, 2007, 11:53 AM
I really disliked the dog whisperer to start with. I think mostly from what I read on this board and I had seen him once working with a news woman's dog and I thought he was using too much force and frightening it.

However, I've been watching his show lately ( I actually had it on for almost a full day when they had the marathon!! ) and I've REALLY changed my mind about him .. so much infact that I ordered (and have since read half) of his book and pre-ordered the one he has coming out.

He is really smart and his ideas are so right it's crazy. Sure, I would never alpha roll a dog I wasn't 100% confident with (and even then I probably wouldn't) and infact Ceasar ALWAYS says on his show (and in his book) not to do what he does WITHOUT a trained professional. SO he's not saying to do it yourself with a snarling dog.

And flooding ... I actually just read that chapter last night. He talks about the dog he helped that was scared of the linoleum floor after having an accident where he was running and crashed into the glass door (or something like that) and the owner made a big deal (right at that time) about .... "Oh poor baby? Are you alright??" and she babied it which in turn taught the dog that he was right to feel like that (scared) and then it got worse. So Ceasar made the dog face his fear. He, himself says many trainers find this technique controversial.

So when Ceasar forced the dog to face his fear of the floor, he gets him to the floor .. he says in his book they had to take a running start down the hall because the dog weighed more then Ceasar. When they reach the area Ceasar just stops .. the dog freaks out .. panicking ... drooling ... trying to get run ... Ceasar hold firm to the leash, pays no attention to the dog and releases calm assertive energy until the dog gets over it and is back to calm submissive. I think people forget it's a dog not a person .. and much as we'd like to .. you can't reason with a dog so other then simply facing the fear how would one get them past it?

The thing I have realized is that it's ME with the problems when my dogs have a problem. It's me giving off the wrong energy and screwing them up. Ever since my dogs got attacked by a golden, I tense up when other dogs are coming up to us ... my dogs ... growl ... not because like I thought ... it's the goldens fault ... no .. it's my fault for giving off nervous energy and allowing them to react that way. And I dont mean I freeze on the spot and its obvious to every one around me ... it's subtle but when I really think about it .. it's there.

Just to point out .... Ceasar does NOT pick on pits! LOL Have you seen how many he has? All together in his pack? Lots of them. I honestly didnt believe pit bulls could be kept with other dogs until I started watching this show. I couldn't believe my eyes in this one episode with some aggressive(ish) little dogs ... he brought one of his pit bulls and the little snappy thing was snapping in the pit bulls face and the pit bull just turned his head. Until that moment, I sort of thought pit bulls were bad news .. but seeing that .... wow .. it changed my mind.

But I do agree with him that we need to realize dogs are dogs not babies and it's okay to love them (it's great actually) but they are dogs and must be treated like dogs. Meaning the need excercise, disipline and afftection in that order ... I'm horrible for being one who gives affection affection affection ... excerise ... discipline ... and it's not good for them. Human psychology is not the same as dog psychology ... and for me, that's the hardest to get my head around.

So hate him if you want .... but don't be like me and blindly believe what people say about him before judging for yourself =)

And I'm not affiliated in any way with the dog whisperer ;) I'm just a girl with a couple of dogs who's gonna try ceasar's way and see if I can't make my dogs happier more fulfilled dogs.

August 10th, 2007, 11:33 PM
I know a lot of you don't agree with the dog whisperer, and that's a whole other subject since I've already stated my opinion on it before, but what do you mean by "pits are popular to pick on," mummummum?

Yes in general they are popular to pick on but were you referring to Cesar doing so? Pit bulls are his favorite breed and what he specializes in and loves to "rehabilitate". He spends a lot of time trying to show people that pit bulls aren't inherently angry, aggressive and dangerous dogs, and that these behaviors stem from bad owners not the dogs themselves.
He often brings one or more of his pit bulls along to training sessions to demonstrate how calm, relaxed and gentle they are, when the owners shih tzu or whatever (pick any breed you want that isn't usually considered dangerous) might be over there trying to jump at people and bite.