Dangerous Dogs And Breed Specific Legislation
Essay Preview: Dangerous Dogs And Breed Specific Legislation
Report this essay
Dangerous Dogs and Breed Specific Legislation
Laws are currently in place designed to protect the public from dangerous dogs. Unfortunately, these laws are not strict enough and are not enforced consistently. As a result, dangerous dogs have been an increasing problem for several years. Some municipalities are pushing for specific breed banning through breed specific legislation. These community leaders feel breed specific laws would better protect the public against dangerous dog attacks. However, lawmakers are just that, they are lawmakers; they have no expertise in dog behavior and, therefore, have no business trying to correct a problem about which they know nothing. Separating dogs into the “good breeds” and “bad breeds” or banning specific breeds are not feasible solutions in eliminating the problem.
Animal activist groups, veterinarians, and canine organizations are among the first to stand up and say that something must be done to protect people against dog attacks. They feel strictly enforced dog control laws which hold all dog owners accountable for their animals behaviors are important in controlling dangerous dogs (Weiss). On the other hand, many animal activist groups believe government officials should not write these laws until they have been properly educated in the following: The impact of dogs ancestral lineage on their behavior, which dogs are potentially more dangerous and why, the reasons breed specific legislation should not be implemented, and solutions for solving the problems.
Studies suggest that the dogs known and loved today are descendants of the wolf (Zgurski). The wolf is an animal renowned for its ruthless predatory nature. It has an amazing ability to use aggressive tactics in protecting itself, obtaining vital resources, competing for pack status, and defending its territory (Price). Wolves are pack animals and organize themselves into ranks by age, strength, and ability, forming a pack hierarchy. The hierarchy of the pack begins with the
alpha pair. The alpha pair is the strongest in the pack and all others are subservient to them. They maintain their positions in the pack by showing confident aggressive body language. Often, only a simple display of aggression is needed in maintaining the alpha position (Donnelly).
Today, domesticated dogs continue to exhibit wolf-like behaviors. Wolves demonstrate a high degree of loyalty to their mates and the rest of the pack members. They are very territorial animals and mark the boundaries of their territory by urination and defecation. Howling is a form of communication which helps them find one another and excites the pack getting ready to hunt. Playing is another form of communication which aids in developing strength, hunting skills, and maintaining the pack hierarchy. Wolves play with each other by chasing, ambushing, and mock fighting (wolf sanctuary:wolf pack).
Many researchers consider domesticated dogs to be paedeomorphic wolves. This means that adult dogs retain those characteristics typical of juvenile wolves. For example, floppy ears are considered one characteristic of paedeomorphism. Adult wolves have erect ears while their young are born with floppy ears. Today, most domesticated dogs are not only born with floppy ears but also retain them throughout their adult life. Interestingly, a few breeds show even more wolf-like characteristics such as German shepherds and Huskies; their young are also born with floppy ears while adults ears stand erect (Zgurski).
Animal behaviorists say that some dogs today are still born with wolf-like, rather than pet-like, temperaments. They say that dogs are incapable of grasping human morals, operating solely on instincts which seem logical to them at the time (Price). Dogs, like wolves are also very territorial and can have easily triggered aggressive reactions. When they feel their territory has been invaded, whether by another animal or a human, they will violently defend it. They have been known to kill in their own defense or in the defense of “the pack.”
The domesticated dog pack may consist of several dogs, although the pack usually
includes the human family who owns them. If given the opportunity, a dog will still try to
become the alpha member of the family and often does succeed without having had proper training at a young age. The public needs to be better educated on how a dog perceives certain situations and how to prevent their pet from becoming dominant over them. There have been documented instances where humans have been killed by their own beloved pets or their pets have killed someone else due to lack of control over their dog.
Far too often, people assume the dog they meet on the street or keep as the family pet will be more reliable and docile than their wild relatives. However, with a firm understanding of where the domesticated dog originated, people should not expect all ancestral traits to have been left behind. People need to be educated on common behaviors that may indicate an increased risk of their dogs becoming aggressive toward their own family or the public at large. They should also be educated on ways to prevent aggressive behavior.
According to animal behaviorists, no matter to what breed a dog belongs, it can become aggressive and any breed can and will bite (Neil). Generally, aggression exhibited by dogs will fall into one of the following categories: dominance, fearful, territorial, or protective. If the dog has a problem with aggression, its potential for becoming dangerous is heightened. Through proper training, if caught early enough, aggressive behavior can be eliminated. The longer the aggressive behavior is allowed to continue, the harder it is for dogs to overcome the problem and some never do (animal health: aggression).
Dominance aggression is learned ways to inappropriately respond to specific situations in relation to the struggle of control between dog and human. These dogs want to hold the alpha position in the pack and may become aggressive toward members of the family in order to achieve or keep the title. They may be more intensely aggressive toward young children in the family because they are at eye level, and the dog considers them to be of lesser pack ranking (animal health: aggression. When this type of behavior is ignored, the dog can become uncontrollable-making the situation very dangerous.
Fearful aggression can be learned through abuse, brought on by increasing age, or due to being small in size. Dogs that are abused can become aggressive when they hear certain noises, are in