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Is it always the owner's fault?

(21 Posts)
MarcoPoloCX Thu 12-Jan-17 15:14:36

I was having a discussion with some friends about problematic dogs ( excluding dogs that were attacked, abused, rescued with unknown history)

One was saying that if you socialise, exercise and obedience train the dogs from a young age, and give it enough love and mental and physical stimulation, it would turn out to be a well rounded dog. Those dogs who attack, who are aggressive are product of irresponsible ownership.

Another person said it is also due to genetic. There are people who had their dogs from weeks old. Did all the right thing and yet they turned out to be unfriendly.

Breeds were made to do certain tasks or to have certain temperament.
He argued that gaming dogs, or fighting dogs were bred such that gaming, dog and animal aggressiveness were traits that are innate in the breed and that in certain lines within the breed, or due to poor breeding practices these traits can be prominent no matter how much training one gives.
And that it's not as simple as it's all because of irresponsible owners but a combination of genetics and the environment.

TrionicLettuce Thu 12-Jan-17 15:38:15

In short, no it's not always the owner's fault and I really, really dislike the "there are no bad dogs, only bad owners" and "it's all in how you raise them" mantras.

Genetics plays a role as well, it's how breeders have been able to select for particular behavioural traits in order for dogs to perform specific jobs. Socialisation and training can influence quite a lot how a dog turns out but they can't fundamentally change who/what a dog is.

You might be interested in this article about the role of genetics in behaviour by a behaviour vet and trainer.

Blackfellpony Thu 12-Jan-17 15:38:24

In my experience genetics has a massive part to play.
If a dog has a nervous temperament it's more likely to develop issues, so it might encounter the same experiences as another dog but as it's more nervous it is effected much more than a dog who is able to shrug them off.

My own dog has been aggressive from a small puppy. I've vaccinated and handled lots of nervous, terrified dogs who have had no bad experiences at all yet are still wrecks. On a similar note my collie has never seen a sheep but still herds, he has never been taught too so it must have a genetic component?

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 12-Jan-17 15:52:09

I have a lab we've had from 7 weeks who's dog aggressive. Adores all people, but will only tolerate female dogs and some small male dogs. All othe male dogs he'll go for. He's now 10 and hasn't really changed.

I'm not sure we could have changed his personality. We certainly did all the socialising stuff with him as a pup.

I adore him, but having him has been very challenging when outside our house and garden.

tabulahrasa Thu 12-Jan-17 15:58:54

Genetics do matter and events that happen that are outside the owner's control can have a huge impact as well.

You can do absolutely everything right and still end up with a dog with issues.

PoshPenny Thu 12-Jan-17 16:06:34

Some of it is down to the owners who can't/won't control their dogs, but the breeding of the dog can also be a contributing factor. Some bloodlines have better temperaments than others. I've had many many dogs over the years (used to do rescue) and I can honestly say only once was it down to temperament, all the others that were naughty in some way just needed clear boundaries and routine. With the temperament one, an awful lot was tried before he was PTS, but sadly it wasn't to be.

tabulahrasa Thu 12-Jan-17 16:10:10

"Some of it is down to the owners who can't/won't control their dogs"

The owners of dogs with issues, or the owners of other dogs?

SteppingOnToes Thu 12-Jan-17 16:11:31

I disagree completely - I fostered a litter of 12 puppies (from birth) and all but one have grown to become lovely well rounded dogs. The one with issues was adopted by a (well respected) dog behaviourist and had terrible aggression and food aggression issues. Bizarrely as a tiny pup, it was the most loving and chilled out...

Scuttlebutter Thu 12-Jan-17 23:40:26

I'd definitely agree about genetics playing an important role. There are certain lines within breeds I know well that are known for/prone to temperament issues. This is true for pretty much all breeds. I've also seen (and owned) rescue dogs who've overcome the most horrendous backgrounds/treatment and have superb temperaments - happy, chilled out dogs.

And it's surely common sense that if you breed greyhounds for instance for being able to run quickly after something small and furry, it's highly likely they won't happily live with your cat or fluffy rabbits. There are similar broad breed characteristics for many breeds - things they are good at (hunting, retrieving, herding etc). It makes sense to work with these in what you do with your dog.

Godstopper Fri 13-Jan-17 05:19:09

I think it's a combination of genetics and environment, like most traits.

My Border Terrier has fear aggression (much improved, thank goodness). We did everything right. How did it start? Well, the "my dog is friendly" brigade have a lot to answer for: without others who are unable to recall their dogs, I think she might still be a little nervous, but not to the extent that she is - I've lost the plot with others who think letting their dig zoom up to everything is o.k. It's bloody rude and causes some dogs to develop issues that were no real problem before.

I also have a rescue Staffy who was abused (left in a bucket of bleach that burned off all her fur and left her partially sighted). She's also nervous sometimes but reacts completely different to the B.T: she's never even growled at another dog and prefers to hide behind me.

I think serious aggression issues of any type that have a purely genetic basis are v rare.

PleaseNotTrump Fri 13-Jan-17 09:23:51

I think it's a mix of genetics and environment both before sale and after sale. For instance, if a bitch doesn't like children, surely the pups would have a higher chance of being the same, having seen their mother react in that way.

Imaginationfailedtoload Fri 13-Jan-17 09:29:36

We have two dogs from the same litter. They have had exactly the same upbringing and training etc. Their personalities are totally different. One of them is confident and outgoing and the other is timid and nervous of people and other dogs. If we had known how they were going to turn out we would have called them Chalk and Cheese.

LilCamper Fri 13-Jan-17 10:54:08

Imagination you need to google 'Littermate Syndrome'. What you describe there is a classic case of it.

Cherryskypie Fri 13-Jan-17 11:07:17

If it's always about the owners why do I have one dog who is utterly sweet natured and loves everyone and everything and another who is funny and gentle and but will suddenly lash out at anyone or anything (and be normal again 3 seconds later.) We manage the asshole one and avoid his triggers but he'll never be right. They are both from different good breeders and had the same care and attention. The 'good' one rolls in and eats shit while the asshole one only occasionally nibbles at fresh horse poo.

arbrighton Fri 13-Jan-17 11:13:01

Just like humans, it must be a combination of nature and nurture- there may be a genetic component to any behaviour, e.g. herding in collies but their upbringing may play a part too.

Imaginationfailedtoload Fri 13-Jan-17 12:43:26

Thanks camper. I will take a look

Bubble2bubble Fri 13-Jan-17 13:03:07

I still believe a lot of it is down to bad ownership. However I have seen the other side of the argument firsthand when some friends of mine had to PTS their dog for aggression against humans. They are amazing, lifetime dog owners who rescued a pup and he could not have been better socialised, trained and loved from the age of eight weeks. Heartbreaking though it was , they had to conclude that the aggression was in his breeding.
I also believe the dog who attacked mine may have had some genetic aggression issues, though more of his behaviour was down to the owner allowing him to free range ( " he's friendly" ) without any control, and failing to control him when he started getting his kicks from attacking other dogs.

Bubble2bubble Fri 13-Jan-17 13:04:37

imagination I have exactly the same situation and wish I had known about littermate syndrome 10 years ago!

MarcoPoloCX Fri 13-Jan-17 14:50:18

We were originally talking about rescue dogs, in particular the large numbers of Staffies at centres like London Battersea dogs home.

SBT is a popular breed but it's disproportionately high in shelters.
Makes me wonder if there are proportionately higher Irresponsible or incompetent owners in this breed than in others.

tabulahrasa Fri 13-Jan-17 15:00:02

Well staffies are the most popular breed in the country if you include crosses...so they would be the most common breed to come up in rescues anyway.

They're also very easy to get hold of, so yep easier for irresponsible and incompetent people to have and you've got the added appeal to those people attracted by their reputation.

All of that adds up to huge numbers of staffies in the hands of people who shouldn't own dogs, then a fairly large (because there are so many) number who did have decent owners but they've had to give them up because of all the big life events that lead to people having to rehome dogs.

WorldsSmallestPatio Fri 13-Jan-17 15:47:38

The vast majority of the time it is. I'm sure there's a tiny percentage where it's the bloodline.

I think if people realised how much work goes into raising a well socialised dog they wouldn't do it. I'm with my very young dog 118 hours a week and I still find it hard work.

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