Why do some dogs maul? - Page 6

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by apple on 06 September 2019 - 12:09

I view what you said differently. I don't see social/dominance aggression as a single type of aggression and defensive aggression comes in different forms, essential strong, average, and weak. To clarify, social aggression is an active aggression in that it doesn't require any specific action in the environment to trigger it. Socially aggressive dogs simply have an urge to be aggressive to strangers. They can be taught to tolerate strangers, but will never become social or friendly with them unless they are subdued by the stranger, and then the stranger is part of the pack and the urge to be aggressive to that person goes away. But that isn't that likely to happen with an older dog. It has been bred away from and is not a common trait anymore. Social aggression has no element of defensive aggression having the advantage of not eliciting the possibility of avoidance or flight.
Dominance can appear with social aggression, but it does not have to. Dominance is not actually aggression. It is more about the urge to prove superiority or status or rank. The aggression associated with dominance results when a dominant dog can't get a sense of power or is challenged. Truly dominant dogs are not that common and so called alpha dogs are probably akin to a unicorn. All dogs have defensive aggression as it is a survival trait. But defensive aggression comes in different forms, is genetic, and they are not equal. Strong defensive aggression is a dog that is genetically hard wired to be violent toward someone he perceives as a threat and will bite seriously without training. That type of aggression is at one end of the continuum and is less common, but not nearly as rare as social aggression and truly dominant dogs. Then there is defensive aggression that is in the middle of the continuum, where most good working dog are. They have strong defensive aggression, but might have some inhibitions to bite a perceived threat without training and will likely display defensive posturing. With proper training, they can become very good dogs. At the other end of the continuum is dogs with weak defensive aggression, which are all bark and no bite or fear biters. Defensive aggression always carries a risk of avoidance or flight because it involves worry or fear in the dog. With training, a good dogs works through the worry and fear and learns to use his defensive aggression as an asset.
Assessing these types of aggression in young dogs is not easy. It helps if you know the bloodlines where the dogs in a pedigree have been accurately assessed for certain traits because then you know the odds are greater that you are seeing a trait previously seen in the bloodline. In social aggression vs. defensive aggression, I would say with social aggression you are not going to see typical defensive behaviors like growling, snarling, hackling, lip curling, display of teeth, etc. Also, defensive aggression will be directed at things other than people and involve worry, such as a pup or young dog barking at a strange noise, or a trash bag blowing across the ground. A defensive sounding bark might be a clue. I don't like to see defensive behavior early in dogs and prefer to see it after about a year of age, except when there is a pretty obvious threat. However, some pups and young dogs that show early defensive aggression turn out to be strong dogs. Dominance, not being aggression per se, is probably easiest to assess, but sometimes it is the result of a poor handler rather than a true genetic dominance which is more rare. A bias for the super social, confident, high prey, high hunt, high threshold for defensive aggression dogs is that those who prefer them think they are stronger than dogs who are primarily defensive dogs. There may be some truth to that, but those type of dogs can be walked away with by a stranger, and who wants that? It is not easy to assess a dog unless you actually raise him. There are other traits like mistrust, thresholds, etc., that muddy the water. The advantage of the super social, confident very high drive dogs is that they often have a lot of active aggression in the form of what Michael Ellis has termed oppositional aggression, which is when the pressure is notched up, the dog kicks up his aggression to stay in the fight and it is not based on defensive aggression, which decreases the likelihood of flight. For me, it is not so much about what traits make a good dog as much as it is do the traits the dog has match up to his use or what the handler is wanting in his dog. Nerves are a double edged sword. A dog with thinner nerves can develop an edge, but the training and its timing has to be correct. Nerves that are too thin or short are not desirable and of course, weak nerves are bad. Dogs can display signs of less than bombproof nerves in many subtle ways and the handler needs to pay attention and be honest with himself about his dog. Some dogs with bombproof nerves can lack an edge and will always see bite work as a game.

by ValK on 06 September 2019 - 15:09


i think i'm somewhat puzzled by that term. what exactly people see and perceive as dog's social aggression?
for me it's a bold dog with above average level of aggression, pronounced impulsiveness and weak selfcontrol.
if that fit, then such specific of dog's personality isn't desirable to prevail in breeding but not avoidable, if breeding goal is to produce strong serious dogs.
border program have produced plenty of such but they weren't suitable for patrol role. instead they typically was rehomed into hands of guarding departments of businesses such like warehouses, plants and factories to be watchdogs.
those dogs generally speaking wasn't bad dogs. main problem with them it's an unpredictability even after intensive obedience training.
as apple stated above, such trait not really reflect dominant nature. even opposite, dominant dogs in fact was more calm and less reactive ones.
in young pup pronounced possessiveness in conjunction with high reactiveness would be a good indicator of future problem.
i don't see people doing with very young pups test on selfpreservation threshold. it's a good test to detect future strongly dominant dog.

by Centurian on 06 September 2019 - 16:09

Apple .... nice commentary .
That is exactly what I am referring to when I pontificate about kinds/types / quality and quantities of Aggression . I would add to your post the descriptive words to throw more light on your words : low , medium/low , medium , medium /high , high , excessively/abnormally high aggression as cateegorical descriptions in addition to describing the kinds of defensive , or predatory aggression dogs have. A little tweak I add too : yes to delineage between aggression manifsetations can be trying for some , but then again , this is not so trying to access / evaluate , even in young dogs as well as matured adults , if someone understands and comprehends what he /she is taking about and he/she can properly evaluate canines.

by apple on 06 September 2019 - 18:09

You are not quite understanding. I am referring to social aggression as a specific genetic trait that has a precise definition and takes into consideration the dog's motivation for biting. It is not the same as simply a dog biting (aggression) a person (social.) As I said, dogs with this trait have been bred away from due to liability potential, people not understanding that the trait is not a temperament fault, and low demand. It has nothing to do weakness or lack of self control. The trait can be managed with training, but a dog with true social aggression will bite a stranger if left on his own because social aggression is an urge to bite anyone outside of the dog's pack. Some dogs with social aggression have the discernment not to bite children. I didn't say anything about social aggression not reflecting dominance. A dog with social aggression can have true genetic dominance or not have it. They are separate traits. Also, they aren't unpredictable. You can count on them biting a stranger if not under the control of obedience. Also, dogs with social aggression are not reactive. Social aggression is a form of active aggression in that it needs no trigger for the dog to react except for the presence of a stranger. Regarding dominance and calmness and reactivity, again, I think they are all separate traits. Some dominant dogs can be reactive and some can be calm. With a genetically dominant dog, the dominance is triggered by the frustration when their desire for status or rank is blocked, or when their rank is challenged. Testing for self preservation would be more of an evaluation of defensive aggression than dominance. What people today might call social aggression is often a dog with a low threshold for defense, with a higher level of defense than prey, possibly mistrust, and possible nerves that are too thin. The whole problem with terminology is that it is not consistently operationally defined and people have different interpretations of what a trait is, or they are simply wrong. Plus, were are talking about constructs which is very different than talking about something like a dog's structure which has a specific physical appearance which can be seen. With traits, you are making an educated guess about what is motivating a dog's behavior. You never know for sure because the dog can't tell you. Recently someone told me there was a debate on Face Book about prey drive being different from predatory aggression because a dog can have good prey drive for an inanimate object such as a toy, but no desire to chase and kill an animal. I think the terms mean the same thing.

by Gustav on 07 September 2019 - 11:09

Apple, that was a very nice post! Maybe one of the most comprehensive and thorough explanation that I have seen on this subject that resonates with my experiences in the breed.

Not the post to Valk but the post to K9.

by K9L1 on 08 September 2019 - 08:09

Thanks for the stud recommendation.looked at somevid of Arno Maataman .... very strong dog . Would love to see what comes out if he bredt to a good Castor de Groot daughter .


by Lunastar on 09 September 2019 - 19:09

When I hear about someone being mauled by a dog, I usually think pet quality dog. Mauling is attacking to kill a person/animal, not biting to subdue a person/animal like a good working dog should do. Most dogs that maul are pets who have little training, bad training or no training at all. They are often dogs that were abused by either their owners or someone close to them as well. There have been a few cases in recent years of owners who starved their dogs, being mauled to death and even eaten by their dogs. So mauling is not a good sign at all. It is a sign that something has gone very wrong with a dog.

I remember when I was a child, a trainer of Doberman Pinschers ruined several people's dogs with his abuse "training" practices. I think most of those poor dogs had to be put to sleep/shot from how messed up in their heads they were thanks to him. I know one dog was shot to death by police when it mauled it's owner to death and then went after the police. From what I remember the Dobs involved were said to have become very human aggressive and saw humans are their enemies as they associated them with the human trainer who abused them. I can kinda understand that as their owners sent them to this guy in the first place so that would be a betrayal to them. It's very sad how easily one person can destroy not only several dogs lives, but their humans too. I know my aunt had her Doberman named Travis trained by this guy and she was lucky as her dog didn't try to attack her. Just every other living thing. She ended up having her vet put Travis to sleep after he bit several people, killed several cats, dogs and other animals on her farm. She really loved that dog and tried her hardest to fix him but it just didn't work. No other trainer could even get near Travis without nearly being mauled. I still have an old photo of him somewhere with me standing right beside him as a little girl. The photo was taken before Travis was ever "trained". After he was "trained" I was not allowed near him for my mother feared rightly so that he would now attack me.


EDIT: This is the photo of me and Travis:

An image


by emoryg on 09 September 2019 - 20:09

I think the poster was referring to trained dogs biting in more than one area and how effective or desirable it would be.

It depends on the need for the dog. For a police dog tasked with physically apprehending a suspect, one hard grip until the dog gains compliance is the gold standard. I should add that an immediate release on command should be part of that standard. With the right dog, usually takes seconds before the jail cell doesn’t sound like such a bad place to be. The long part was the paperwork.

What about the home protection dog? If the kiddie fiddler cuts the screen, jimmy the lock and enters into their sleeping daughter’s bedroom, does the parent really care what way the dog bites? It doesn’t matter if it’s one crushing grip or he’s spray painting the walls red. They just need that dog to buy enough time so they can move their finger inside the trigger guard.

I knew some nice Dobes way back when. Would love to see them come back from extinction one day. Sorry to hear the demise of Travis.


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