Academics are beginning a study into the genetic make up of different dog breeds to see if some are more likely to become aggressive without warning than others. This study was prompted by several high profile dog attacks in Britain; including one in Lincoln where two women were badly injured.
Genes Could be the Key to Aggression
Academics at the University of Lincoln believe that taking a scientific approach to animal
behaviour may make us more aware of which dogs tend to be aggressive, and therefore people could be educated to better control their pets. Researchers are collecting dozens of saliva swabs from various dogs to identify genes that contribute to aggression. One researcher, Fernanda Fadel, said that if the research is successful this information can be used for selective breeding, so that genes causing bad behaviour are slowly phased out.
Nature or Nurture?
A spokeswoman for the Dog’s Trust has said that, although they think the research could have some positive outcomes (such as educating people about dogs that are more likely to be bad tempered), the Dog’s Trust are concerned that the research could lead to further demonization of certain dog breeds, and give people unrealistic ideas of what a dog may be like. A lot of people closely connected with dogs believe that aggression has little to do with the breed, and is a result of bad animal management, lack of training and neglect.
Other Reasons for Dog Aggression
Cesar Millan of dog lover’s magazine Cesar’s Way believes that all dogs can be aggressive, but the damage done depends on the type of dog displaying that behaviour. He believes that dogs become aggressive when their needs aren’t fulfilled or they haven’t been trained correctly. Many people buy dogs because of the look of the animal, but don’t understand their nature, and this leads to problems. You can combat aggression in the following ways:
- Start obedience training early – if you train your dog with suitable behaviour when he/she is young, you will set up a good relationship with them for the rest of their life. By using positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog that you are the pack leader and it can’t get everything it wants.
- Socialise with other dogs – socialising your dog when he/she is young will encourage sociable behaviour, and will thereby combat dog-to-dog aggressive behaviour.
- Give them plenty of exercise – if a dog isn’t exercised enough they will have too much stored energy, and they will assert this by behaving undesirably. It is recommended that dogs have around 2 hours of exercise a day, although it depends on the breed and age of the dog.
- Contain your own aggression – dogs are very perceptive of human emotion, and if you are angry then your dog will be more likely to get wound up. If you display violent behaviour towards your dog it will try to defend itself through aggressive reactions.
Dog School are delighted to help look after your dog by offering dog walking services in Sutton. We understand that having a dog is a fulfilling part of life, but sometimes you can’t be there for them because other commitments such as work get in the way. Dog school provides flexible dog walking programs tailored to the needs of your pet, so that it is always physically and mentally fulfilled.