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Old 02-01-2009, 05:58 AM
5,006 posts, read 13,852,924 times
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Predatory Aggression

This is a good article and one that all dog owners should read. When you get to the links just scroll down to the rest of the article.

"The difficulty in treating predatory aggression is that it is hard-wired and driven by natural forces. Owners must understand that they are liable for any damage the dog causes if he gets loose. If the dog preys on people or small pets, the prognosis for retraining is guarded to poor."

I just had to put a sweet little dog down. I thought I had him trained because on the leash he no longer tried to go after other dogs, even ignored them. Then I found that he was becoming more aggressive with our border collie who is a sweet non aggressive dog. The one time, a week ago, when he attacked her, I wasn't sure who started it. I was in denial and not thinking of how my border collie was.

Then a few days ago we didn't know that our neighbor had a new dog, a little chihuahua. She had said she was babysitting it, and we thought she had returned it to its owner, so my husband walked our dogs out to the car, and our dog disappeared and came back with the chihuahua and it was hard to get it out of our dog's mouth. The little one died at the vet, and the next day our dog died at the vet because he had to be put to sleep.

I tried everything. I called every vet in town. I called Animal Rescue, and they didn't want him. They all said that he needed to be put down.

I wrote on a dog forum, and they jumped on me, said it was my fault.

I realize now that my dog just had a strong prey instinct. I should have realized this when he tore up every stuffed toy I had given him. But people said it was normal. I should have realized this when he killed a rat and then a woodchuck, but I was told it was normal.

My neighbor didn't sue me; she cried along with me. We cried over her pet. I had held that little dog for a hour trying to find someone to get us to the vet. We were in an ice storm and neither of us could get our cars out. I called for an hour, and I shook longer than thaf. I knew the dog lying in my arms was dying. The vet tried to save him, but called to say that it had nothing to do with not getting him there in time; he was too damaged inside.

People say, just keep him on a leash. No, because someone could have climbed the fence, he could have gotten out somehow. A life in a cage is no life. I thought of every scenerio. And while I loved him dearly I saw the entire kill, and it was horrifying. I could not look at my dog without seeing his violence, but I knew that it was only natural for him.

People on the forum that were against me said that the person who wrote the article didn't know what he was talking about. I found out who wrote the article. This is the man who didn't know what he was talking about:

Faculty and Staff at Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic : Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Nicholas Dodman

What is more: My neighbor told me that she remembered something that bothered her about my dog. Her small toddlers were outside playing, and she noticed that our dog was eyeing them as if they were prey, so she told her kids to not pet him. I know the look in those kinds of dogs, but mainly in wolves.

My dog was not a pit bull. But some pit bull owners that know that their dogs can kill think that they can control there dog, but a leash can break, like it once did with me with my dog. A dog can find a way out. And this just isn't for pit bulls. They should never be singled out. Some are loving dogs.

And I am not the reason why my dog became aggressive. It was his breed. I worked with him a lot on his aggression, not realizing what it could become. He could have killed one of my neighbor's kids; he could have killed our dog. You never know.

But I want to say, dog forums can turn ugly, and I don't know if that happens here, but I had people PMing me saying that they had been verbally abused also, and that some that posted to me were being really mean, blaming me, etc. And now that they have read who wrote the article--Dodman, they are telling me that I should have found my dog a home, that I should have just locked him in the house and made sure when he was in the back yard that I was with him. The desire to save that dog is strong with them, and it was strong with me, and so I was on the phone for hours trying to find an answer for him, even on the forums. Let this be a lesson for those who believe that they can control and train their dog that has a strong prey instinct.

And please, I don't want to here a lot of blame, etc. I am depressed enough. I miss my dog so much, and I don't need any more blame coming my way. Even a trainer could not help; even a behavorist dog trainer couldn't, because that is what Dodman is, and he is a head professor at the college. We have no behaviorist dog trainers here, so I relied on his article and very vet in town and talked to Animal Rescue.
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:36 AM
4,130 posts, read 13,303,291 times
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I'm very sorry for what you went thru and the loss of both dogs, you did the responsible thing, it's impossible to be on guard 100% of the time. Predatory aggression is important to know about and it sounds like you got some good advice (in spite of the other forum). Thank you for posting your story here. Again, my condolences to both you and your neighbor.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:55 AM
Location: Some place very cold
5,500 posts, read 20,058,278 times
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I can't read the article because it is blocked by an ad.

Prey aggression is when a dog runs after things that move, like a car, a bike, or a small animal. It is not the same as territorial/dominance aggression.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:54 AM
Location: Mostly in my head
19,822 posts, read 55,970,721 times
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I aam sorry for your loss. IT is very hard to put down a healthy pet b/c of aggression issues, but sometimes it is the only thing to do. He killed another dog, you did the right thing.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:31 PM
Location: ohio
12 posts, read 35,704 times
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I feel very bad for both of your losses, a few years ago we had to put down my childhood pet a 14 yr old boxer she had become aggressive twards other dogs and even attacked a dog that she had been with for over 5 years and had no problem, the vet believed it was partialy due to blindness, but either way she was now dangerous. and i TRUELY feel for you as I know it is a hard thing to do
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:56 PM
Location: Some place very cold
5,500 posts, read 20,058,278 times
Reputation: 4220
Most of the time dog aggression comes from the owner treating them like little people, letting them sleep in the bed, and so on.

If you have an aggressive dog, you should be in control of the dog at all times. If your dog is off leash and it runs over and kills someone else's little dog, that is your fault. You were not in control of your dog. If I were the owner of that little dog, you can better believe I'd have called the police and filed a report. You should have had that dog on a leash at all times. If not a leash, then a shock collar. I'm sorry you don't think it's fair to have a dog on a leash, but your "trying to be fair" cost another little dog it's life. Now two dogs are dead.

Last edited by Woof Woof Woof!; 02-01-2009 at 10:12 PM..
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:09 PM
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,210,444 times
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Mattie Jo,
You've provided a very important reminder -- dogs ARE animals and they all behave according to instinct, in varying degrees. Sometimes it may be flat-out impossible to curb that instinct enough for them to live peaceably with other animals and humans. I'm so sorry you've been dealing with such heartache.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:31 AM
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Not all predatory dogs will kill other dogs or even babies, and some can be trained not to do so.

When I say that a dog should be able to be off leash, that is not against those that keep them on leash. What I am saying is that a dog should be able to be trained to be off leash, to heel, to stay by your side etc. To certainly not run away and kill another dog. As one vet said, "That is a capitol offense." My other dog is trained to be off leash, and she would not harm another animal. She saw a rabbit the other day and wanted to chase it for fun, not to kill, and I just said, NO. And she stopped. I would not allow her off leash in town because she has not learned to heel yet, and even if she did if some noise scares her she would run home. I just don't want a dog that would kill another dog or harm a child. I never even expected that Rags would do such a thing, but I know Mocha wouldn't. She loves dogs and babies, etc.

But Wolf, Wolf, allowing a dog to sleep in bed with you is not why they are predatory aggressive. Some dogs are bred to be that way. Some have a very strong prey instinct. Rags didn't look like the kind to have it. He was a puppy and the vet claimed he was part Aussie, but while he could be, whatever else was in him was not. And he was becoming more aggressive towards my border collie, and so I began to worry about that too, but they fought over a bone, and everyone said it was normal. But Mocha was not the type to go take a bone away from Rags.

I had thought that Rags had overcome his aggression towards other dogs. When walking him on leash I had taught him to ignore dogs that were behind fences barking at him or were outside off a leash. He did very well. He pretended they were not there. But I never thought he would think to kill another dog. And my husband was just taking him to the car and thought that the other dog had been taken back to his owner, not realizing that he had just been adopted, and he was not out in the yard at the time. She let him out as he was walking Rags to the car. But obviously Rags had more than just mild predatory instincts; he had killing on his mind. No one was trying to be fair here. By the way shock collars do not work. One of the vets I talked with is trying to teach his dog to not kill his chickens and he is using a shock collar to no avail. Others have told me that they are not really good to use. Keeping a dog tied up makes the dog worse, and often dogs get away. Our city is going to try to pass a not chain law for the entire county. It too is cruel to animals.

teatime, you are so right. I read on the other forum where someone owns pit bulls that they know will kill other animals, and so I was told to keep my dog on a leash. Well, one day when I had Rags on a leash it broke. I was glad that I grabbed it before he could get away. He could also pull it out of my hands. A leash is not always the answer, and is not a good answer especially if you know that your dog can kill or maim another animal or person. I have even had a leash slip out of my hands, etc. Putting a dog in a fenced in yard doesn't work either. A meter man has to get into the back yard. A dog can run out so fast you wouldn't even know it. A kid can climb your fence. Your dog can dig under. Having a kennel is no life for a dog either. I do not wish to become my dog's jailer. That is no life for a dog. I know I did the right thing, and I just want others to read this and realize that owning a an aggressive dog could be dangerous for you, your dog, or a kid or other dog. And an owner has to take all things into consideration. It is hard to know your dog until he has been tested around other dogs and babies.
I wish I had known this. I just assumed that it was mostly pit bulls or other types of dogs that were predatory aggressive, and I am not saying that all pit bulls are this way. But I would never have thought that my dog was the type to kill. He was too sweet to us, and only recently showing more aggression towards Mocha. And by the way, Mocha slept with us when she was a baby, and when she grew up she stopped because she didn't like us moving around in the bed. You used to be able to touch her when she was sleeping on the bed with us and she would move away. Now she just gets off the bed.

One thing I just thought about was is this: Her dog was not on a leash, and the fence did not enclose the entire yard. The front of the yard was all open. And why this does not mean that Rags was not to blame, her dog should have been protected from other dogs too. Our town does not enforce leash laws, and so there are dogs running all around.

Last edited by Mattie Jo; 02-02-2009 at 07:43 AM..
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:05 PM
Location: St. Croix
737 posts, read 2,247,509 times
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Dogs are dogs, period. Sometimes, a dog will become aggressive for no pre-determined reason (e.g. breed, known aggression, etc.). The best you can do IS the best you can do. You are at "one" with your dog at various times and THINK you know your pet's behavior. Fact is, I don't believe you can ever really know what will set them off. Same can be said for humans... we just all try to do our best and our canine companions, I think, try to do their best. And really, all we can do is try to do the right thing.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:04 PM
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Thank you so much SunsetBeach. On that other forum I have taken a beating. You don't know what your dog will do until he has done it and it is too late. Sometimes you know; sometimes you don't. You can only do your best. As on the other forum I was told to keep him fenced in. The mail lady just told me that a pit bull got loose recently, killed a small dog, and brought it home dead. I know those people thought it was safe behind a fence, and I know they didn't mean for this to happen. They thought he as safe in their yard.
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