Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Part 4: dog training applies to non-pit bulls, too

In post 4, Skeptifem attacks Bad Rap for having information on their blog about socializing and training foster dogs. She implies that only pit bulls require this kind of socialization, therefore these posts are proof that Bad Rap is hypocritical about their stance that pit bulls should be treated like any other dog.

If you actually read the posts from Bad Rap, all you find is the same general advice you'd find on any dog trainer's website regarding any type of dog.

The biggest and most embarrassing mistake in Skeptifem's multi-post series on pit bulls is this idea that certain breeds of dogs are "safe" and others are "unsafe". Period, end of story, any counter-examples are rare flukes.

All dogs need socialization and training. Many types of dogs needs special socialization or training to overcome issues and go on to become fine pets. Temperament isn't a black and white issue. Aggression isn't a black and white issue. Context matters.

Dog trainers (of all types) know this. Animal behaviorists (you know, the scientists?) know this. People who foster or adopt rescue dogs know this. The dog-bloggers I read know this. Heck, even the lawyers seem to understand. It may be complicated and nuanced and not everyone agrees on everything, but it's not a secret, and it's not at all limited to the "pit bull nutters".

Even professional dog trainers can get frustrated with their pets.

Dog-dog socialization is important from a very young age. Unless you've bottle raised an orphan, we tend to take this for granted.

A perfectly good pet in a home situation may act terrified and anti-social while in a shelter situation.

The idea that you can go to a shelter/breeder/pet store and pick out a "safe" dog based solely on breed is not just ignorant, but dangerous.

[Edited to add] It has been brought to my attention that I haven't linked to the blog post I'm reacting to and therefore the numerous readers of my blog can't make up their own minds about it and are helpless slaves to my opinion. I apologize for the oversight and have corrected it with a link in my first sentence above.

28 comments:

DubV said...

"The biggest and most embarrassing mistake in Skeptifem's multi-post series on pit bulls is this idea that certain breeds of dogs are "safe" and others are "unsafe". Period, end of story, any counter-examples are rare flukes."

Still casting your opposition as making universal statements that they are not making?


While you are using quotation marks, why not link to a bit of text or quote the blog where these universal statements are made?

DubV said...

"Many types of dogs needs special socialization or training to overcome issues and go on to become fine pets."

This meant to imply that issues common in fighting breeds like dog-directed aggression, gameness, and a bite-hold-shake attack style is on par with issues non-fighting breeds commonly have?

DubV said...

" Temperament isn't a black and white issue. Aggression isn't a black and white issue. Context matters."

Okay, agreed that there is different types of aggression. that there is a gradient of aggression. And that dog aggression varies based upon environment.

I fail to see how this has any bearing whatsoever though on the issue you are addressing.

Related to your emphasis on context and subtle thought...

From my experience, people that appeal to nuance and context very often: 1. aren't actually making a strong logical case that makes sense to people and can be spelled out in concrete terms and/or 2. they have such a flexible thought system around the issue that they can explain anything (and unfortunately also its opposite) and turn all observations into a confirmation.

DubV said...

" Temperament isn't a black and white issue. Aggression isn't a black and white issue. Context matters.
Dog trainers (of all types) know this. Animal behaviorists (you know, the scientists?) know this. People who foster or adopt rescue dogs know this. The dog-bloggers I read know this. Heck, even the lawyers seem to understand. It may be complicated and nuanced and not everyone agrees on everything, but it's not a secret, and it's not at all limited to the "pit bull nutters".
Even professional dog trainers can get frustrated with their pets."

In a roundabout way, you are basically expressing that everything is so complicated and not everyone agrees so therefore.....what?


It seems like you are saying it is all just opinion.

DubV said...

"The idea that you can go to a shelter/breeder/pet store and pick out a "safe" dog based solely on breed is not just ignorant, but dangerous."

Again with the strawman. I don't know where you are getting the thought that skeptifem or anyone you encountered at her blog are saying "you can adopt a lab puppy and then never ever worry about a bite or having it around kids". Yes, that would be dangerous.

Do you know what else is dangerous? Believing that a dog's breed does not partially determine its temperament. We are all playing the odds in life, and a dog's breed is part of forming a conditional probability to make decisions based upon. Something else dangerous, believing that nurture can swamp nature.

What is safe and rational behavior given the current state of knowledge? Adopting a popular breed of dog that has not killed anyone in the last 5 or more years in this country. Then treat it properly, and like a dog, and never totally trust it.

CyborgSuzy said...

"Okay, agreed that there is different types of aggression. that there is a gradient of aggression. And that dog aggression varies based upon environment."

Glad you're finally getting it.

"...issues common in fighting breeds like dog-directed aggression, gameness, and a bite-hold-shake attack style is on par with issues non-fighting breeds?commonly have?"

Dog-reactiveness and other issues are "common" (in scare quotes because while it's an accepted truth among rescuers, I don't know HOW common, and neither do you) in all types of rescue dogs. It isn't limited to "fighting breeds", (or hunting breeds, or livestock guarding breeds, or home guarding breeds, or police dog breeds, or drug-sniffing breeds, or...etc) and the socialization/training would be the same regardless of breed.

CyborgSuzy said...

"...Believing that a dog's breed does not partially determine its temperament."

Now you're changing your stance. Everyone knows that breed can affect temperament. How much, and which aspects, varies greatly depending on the individual dog (and is a hotly debated topic even among those without an agenda).

You and other anti-pit bull people argue that a) all "pit bulls" have some kind of unique genetic sequence for human aggression that other breeds do not, b) this mystical gene sequence is unaffected by genetic drift, disuse in breeding programs, crossbreeding, or training, and c) breed supersedes all other factors or concerns when it comes to "pit bulls".

DubV said...

""Okay, agreed that there is different types of aggression. that there is a gradient of aggression. And that dog aggression varies based upon environment."

Glad you're finally getting it.
"

I agreed because it is an obvious point that is actually trivial to what is being discussed. The issue is the average behavior (and distribution around it) of various breeds and how other breed options compare to pit bulls and whether that makes them a public safety risk.

All this gradient and context business is bordering on a "deepity".

DubV said...

"Dog-reactiveness and other issues are "common" (in scare quotes because while it's an accepted truth among rescuers, I don't know HOW common, and neither do you) in all types of rescue dogs. It isn't limited to "fighting breeds", (or hunting breeds, or livestock guarding breeds, or home guarding breeds, or police dog breeds, or drug-sniffing breeds, or...etc) and the socialization/training would be the same regardless of breed."

Suzy, you should familiarize yourself with the concept of "ceteris paribus".

You are expressing that because X, Y, and Z have some effect that therefore A does not have an effect. It is unsound reasoning.

The issue is, all else being equal, whether fighting breeds have a higher propensity for these problematic behaviors. If you insist that "well not everything is equal and so...context..gray area...etc". Then it shows that you are not following what I am saying or just being obstinate.

DubV said...

""...Believing that a dog's breed does not partially determine its temperament."

Now you're changing your stance. Everyone knows that breed can affect temperament. How much, and which aspects, varies greatly depending on the individual dog (and is a hotly debated topic even among those without an agenda)."

I'm not changing my stance whatsoever. Perhaps you are just assigning a general argument line to me based upon what you've sometimes encountered in argumentation. I do not in anyway believe that nature acts in a vaccuum.

It is not "breed can affect temperament" it is that breed undeniably affects temperament. So how does being a pit bull possibly affect temperament?

What you said paraphrased as "breed effect varies by dog" actually makes no sense. A breed is a type within a species created to have common characteristics of our choosing. Does it at all make sense to say "being a lab affects all labs differently. some labs are much less affected by being a lab."

What is accurate and clear is that breed influences temperament. That an average and distribution of any trait can be expected based upon breed. That this average and distribution is influenced by the intersection of breed and other factors such as environment.

DubV said...

"You and other anti-pit bull people argue that"

What are you talking about? You are putting words in my mouth based upon your experience with others.

DubV said...

"a) all "pit bulls" have some kind of unique genetic sequence for human aggression that other breeds do not, b) this mystical gene sequence is unaffected by genetic drift, disuse in breeding programs, crossbreeding, or training, and c) breed supersedes all other factors or concerns when it comes to "pit bulls"."

Suzy, previously you were trying to school me on data analysis and now on biology. Again, you are playing in my "backyard".

Points by letter above:

a. it is highly unlikely to be a genetic sequence as simply understood. the series of genes that interact to control most complex behaviors are usually many and on different chromosomes. you are acting like this is something you can do a little punnett square to analyze.

a. (continued) "unique sequence only pit bulls have"-this is addressed in the statement I made above when I stated that we are not dealing with a Mendelian trait here. do you realize that the genetic similarity between wolves any domestic dog species is over 99%? so very few dog traits are the result of "new" genetic sequences arising from mutations that occurred after dog domestication began 12,000 year ago. the dog domestication process is one of identifying already occuring variation and then concentrating those variations to form different breeds. the idea of "uniqueness" of a genetic sequence does not make sense to the discussion.

b. as far as it being a mystical gene sequence, it is not mystical at all if you believe in the connection between genotype and phenotype and what the selection pressure was on this breed.

b. genetic drift by definition is random and directionless. it would have more potential effect in a smaller population on a trait controlled by one gene or a few genes that are located closely on the same chromosome. you are making a claim about genetic drift after I mentioned the word. you are making a claim on how it might affect the trait under discussion so you need to provide the evidence here.

DubV said...

b. (continued)"disuse in breeding programs" - it is unclear whether you are speaking of selection against a trait or not. if not, then you are appealling to random drift (see previous statement). if you are speaking of selection against, then you would have to show evidence for this. it is common knowledge that gamebred lines are common and that their genetic material is not isolate from other pit bulls being bred.

b. (continued) "crossbreeding" - do you mean crosses with other pits? other breeds? of course, dilution could have an effect. here and overall you are using a common, fallacious rhetorical style. i see it commonly among liberal christians. there will be a debate where the topic might be "is christianity an overall good for human society?" one participant will state some negative points on the general theology and practice. a liberal christian will say "oh yeah, well not every christian is like that". the point is that variation does not disprove generalization and that we must actually agree upon a definition of what we are discussing in order to discuss it. the fact that some pit bull mutts have better temperaments is similarly a non sequitur.

b. (continued)"training"- you state this in a sentence related to genetics. are you contending that training actually can influence genetic code? if so, you are either being lamarckian or you are referring to epigenetics. if it is the latter, that is a dry well for you that was attempted to be used by the guy at kcdogblog (or whatever the blog name is, you read it). this is based upon a profound misunderstanding of what epigenetics actually is. epigenetics states that environment can influence gene EXPRESSION by turning off and on little "switches". it does not entail that you can train something and then specifically turn on or off the switches necessary. that is lamarckism differently stated and is not supported by current science.

c. the breed supersedes idea- I don't think that breed is primary just for pit bulls but for every breed. that is why we created breeds. DNA sets the parameters of what is possible for a dog given a set of different environments. the DNA of a dog is set and it then interacts with environments (including training environment) that can be modified. it is obvious that this results in DNA "superseding" environment.

DubV said...

Quoted from Vintage at Craven Desires' blog:

GREAT PIT BULL QUOTES IN HISTORY:

From a 1981 article written before the Pit Jihadists infiltrated the Humane Orgs...

Dr Michael Fox, Director of the Institute for the study of Animal Problems, Scientific Branch, Humane Society of the United States:

"I spent 20 years studying the behavior of dogs and it's not in their nature. Man, has created a monster, If you wish...These dogs were selectively bred to fight, they have greater propensity to fight than other animals."

"They can attack people, and because the attitudes of Pit Bulls it is more likely they will attack people. The worry is the power of the dogs jaw...to bite and not let go. It's quite sufficient to crush right through a child's arm or leg."

Rock Hill, SC "Pit Handler" John Rockholdt chimes in to set the record straight:

"It's inhumane not to allow them to fight. If you have encourage them to fight they are not worth the powder it would take to blow them away. To never allow them any kind of combat...That's inhumane."

Rockholdt figures the Humane Society "is just there to hassle people."


http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=uSotAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-qYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4294,2713042&dq=pit+bulldog+bites+boy+doctor&hl=en

241 Americans have been killed by Pits since this article was published.

CyborgSuzy said...

"the DNA of a dog is set bla bla"

This common thread amongst pit bull haters continues to be ridiculous, no matter how you rephrase it. "Pit bull type dogs" aren't a separate species.

Which DNA, which genes, which alleles, exactly, make the "fighting breeds" (a term you've been throwing around without thought, though I assume we're still talking about the American Staffordshire Terrier and Friends) completely unique from other dogs?

You can't answer this question. There's no science to back it up. Just your gut feeling and the (provenly biased) newspaper headlines you keep quoting. The science tells us that genetically dogs differ from each other only a tiny bit. Heck, they're still so genetically similar to wolves that they produce fertile offspring.

Since you don't have your mystical gene sequence or whatever to show us, I guess you'll have to trust breed experts on what constitutes an actual breed trait for the AmStaff instead of just making them up to suit your agenda.

All the breed experts consider the AmStaff breed, in general, to be a people-friendly dog, and that's been true for a long time. Since we're discussing aggression towards people, that IS a relevant breed trait. Not "gameness" or "courage" or "dog-reactivity".

Not all individual dogs with AmStaff/Bull Terrier/Bull-and-Terrier/Bull dog ancestry WILL be people friendly automatically from birth, of course. That's the 'gray area' you keep dismissing. Individual dogs vary in how much they follow their breed traits.

CyborgSuzy said...

Oooh,you have a quote from 1981! Hey look, I have a quote from 1968, from the AKC "The Complete Dog Book" about the Staffordshire Terrier:

"As to character... they should not be held in ill repute merely because man has been taking advantage of this rare courage to use them in the pit as gambling tools. These dogs are docile, wand with a little training are even tractable around other dogs. They are intelligent, excellent guardians... they easily discriminate between strangers who mean well and those who do not. They have another characteristic that is unusual: when they are sold, or change hands, they accept their new master in a comparatively short time."

DubV said...
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DubV said...

Suzy, why do you avoid the topic of dog-directed aggression and prefer to speak of human-directed aggression? This is notable on your part.

The handful of breeds called pit bulls are all descended from the bull and terrier. They were all artificially selected for dog fighting. I agree they were not selected for human aggression. However, a dog that is dog-aggressive is more dangerous to people than one that is not. This is because people defend their dogs from attack and so are collateral damage. If you had the stomach to read attack accounts you would see this. Further, a dog that is equipped to defeat other dogs by being dead game and a capable fighter will be able to do more damage than one that is not. Have you read the many accounts of groups of grown men not being to stop a pit bull even when armed with baseball bats?

Besides, dog-directed aggression is a horrible trait on its own.

DubV said...
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DubV said...

"Which DNA, which genes, which alleles, exactly, make the "fighting breeds" (a term you've been throwing around without thought, though I assume we're still talking about the American Staffordshire Terrier and Friends) completely unique from other dogs?

You can't answer this question. There's no science to back it up."

Suzy, I'll make a similarly ridiculous argument. Here goes.

Suzy, no one has found the set of genes that make a pointer naturally point. Even though, I know that this breed was artificially selected for this trait over time (and it is documented), and I know that the dogs of this breed do this naturally, and I know that selecting for a physical trait manipulates genetics: STILL because you cannot show me a study where someone found all the genes that produce this behavior I say that pointers and chihuahuas have the same pointing instinct.

That is the type of argument you are making.

It is telling that you think: 1. it would be straightforward to determine the genetic basis for complex behaviors and 2. that it is necessary in order to support a common sense assertion.

CyborgSuzy said...

The difference re: shepherds' herding instinct and pointers' pointing instinct is that these behaviors ARE well documented AND clearly listed as breed traits by their breed experts and registries. (None of these traits are unique, BTW, other breeds point or sett or try to herd).

Terriers of all types tend to be game, tenacious, courageous, and reactive to dogs and other animals; also clearly listed as breed traits by their clubs and registries. It's when YOU assign made-up breed traits to the AmStaff Terrier (and friends) and claim they are uniquely dangerous that I asked for further proof (like DNA).

DubV said...

"The difference re: shepherds' herding instinct and pointers' pointing instinct is that these behaviors ARE well documented AND clearly listed as breed traits by their breed experts and registries. (None of these traits are unique, BTW, other breeds point or sett or try to herd).

Terriers of all types tend to be game, tenacious, courageous, and reactive to dogs and other animals; also clearly listed as breed traits by their clubs and registries. It's when YOU assign made-up breed traits to the AmStaff Terrier (and friends) and claim they are uniquely dangerous that I asked for further proof (like DNA)."


Again, we aren't talking about a handful of dogs that are not a pointing or herding breed that have been trained somehow to point/herd. I have no doubt that given amazing effort, a few highly intelligent labs could learn to point, etc. However, pointers/herders were selected for this and it is a natural instinct for them. They do not have to be trained to do it. I have known many pointer/herders who were just family pets that would point at pigeons and herd kids in the yard. So, I have no idea what point you are trying to make here.

If you want a dog that will point you get a pointer. If you want a dog that is dangerous as hell you get a pit bull. Stroll over to craven desires and read a few installments of the weekly roundup. Other dogs are abused too, it isn't just your poor pathetic pit bulls. However, you don't see them scalping children or withstanding hammer beatings nearly so often.

I am not assigning made up breed traits to the pit bull breeds. Their dog-directed aggression, gameness, and other traits are well-documented. You just admitted it by discussing terriers in general. Of course terrier breeds, differ and it so happens that pit bulls are among the largest terriers and are likely the strongest. Further, they were selected specifically to be able to do damage to other dogs (and to want to).

So, we have the most powerful terrier that was selected to fight other dogs. You are basically admittting defeat here without realizing it.

These traits are why pit bulls are in the media. It is not a conspiracy. Of course, low lives are attracted to this breed and this certainly does not help. However, two things can be true at once: trash likes these dogs and these dogs are more dangerous on average.

The bottomline is that pit bulls should be rare, instead of polluting the shelters. Hardly anyone is capable of keeping one safely. You are doing the breed no favor by painting a rosy picture that will cause people to adopt them and then need to give them up later.

Bagheera Kiplingi said...
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Bagheera Kiplingi said...

Scientists continued...

GARY WILKES, animal behaviorist
No other breed in America is currently bred for fighting, in such great numbers as the American Pit Bull Terrier. No other breed has instinctive behaviors that are so consistently catastrophic when they occur, regardless of how rarely they happen. The reality is that every English Pointer has the ability to point a bird. Every Cattle Dog has the ability to bite the heel of a cow and every Beagle has the ability to make an obnoxious bugling noise when it scents a rabbit or sees a cat walking on the back fence. Realistically, if your English Pointer suddenly and unpredictably points at a bird in the park, nobody cares. If my Heeler nips your ankle, I’m going to take care of your injuries and probably be fined for the incident. If your Beagle bugles too much, you’ll get a ticket for a noise violation. If your Pit Bull does what it’s bred to do...well, you fill in the blank.

ALEXANDRA SEMYONOVA, animal behaviorist
You will also not prevent the dog from being what he is genetically predisposed to be. Because the inbred postures and behaviors feel good, fitting the body and brain the dog has been bred with, they are internally motivated and internally rewarded. This means that the behavior is practically impossible to extinguish by manipulating external environmental stimuli. The reward is not in the environment, but in the dog itself! As Coppinger and Coppinger (2001, p. 202) put it, “The dog gets such pleasure out of performing its motor pattern that it keeps looking for places to display it.” Some dogs get stuck in their particular inbred motor pattern.

As pointed out above, this kind of aggression has appeared in some other breeds as an unexpected and undesired anomaly – the golden retriever, the Berner Senne hund, the cocker spaniel have all had this problem.The lovers of aggressive breeds try to use these breeding accidents to prove that their aggressive breeds are just like any other dog, “see, they’re no different from the cuddly breeds.” But a cuddly breed sometimes ending up stuck with a genetic disaster does not prove that the behavior is normal canine behavior. All it proves is that the behavior is genetically determined.

JOHN FAUL, animal behaviorist
Faul said they were dangerous and a threat to life. He said the pitbull was bred to be absolutely fearless and had a "hair-trigger" attack response.

"The cardinal rule is that these dogs are not pets," he said.

"The only way to keep them is in a working environment."

He said the only relationship one could have with the pitbull was one of "dominance, sub-dominance", in which the dog was reminded daily of its position.

Bagheera Kiplingi said...

Oh yes, "the scientists":

RANDALL LOCKWOOD, PhD
Randall Lockwood, who said he has witnessed the best and worst of pit bulls, said illegal dog-fighting is perpetuating dogs that are hazards to humans and other animals. Shaped by dog-fight enthusiasts, they are "a perversion of everything normal dogs should do. What they've created is a canine psychopath."
"Fighting dogs lie all the time. I experienced it first hand when I was investigating three pit bulls that killed a little boy in Georgia. When I went up to do an initial evaluation of the dog's behavior, the dog came up to the front of the fence, gave me a nice little tail wag and a "play bow" -- a little solicitation, a little greeting. As I got closer, he lunged for my face."

NICHOLAS DODMAN, BVMS, ACVB, ACVA
Rottweilers were originally bred to guard the money of peasants returning home from the city of Rottweil in Germany, so their fierceness was prized. Staffordshire bull terriers and pit bulls were programmed to deliver a full crushing bite to the noses of bulls. "They're locked and loaded," as Dodman puts it.
on breed profiling
But Dodman defends the practice. "The insurance companies have no ax to grind," he says. They base their decisions on actuarial statistics showing that certain breeds in certain homes are a recipe for trouble and the cause of lawsuits.

KATHERINE HOUPT, VMD, PhD, DACVB
Says Katherine Houpt, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell and author of Domestic Animal Behavior: "Different breeds have genetic predispositions to certain kinds of behavior, though that can be influenced by how they are raised. The pit bull is an innately aggressive breed, often owned by someone who wants an aggressive dog, so they're going to encourage it."

“I have seen so many pit bulls taken by very nice, very dog-savvy people who did all the right things,” said Houpt. “They take them to socialization class, they take them to obedience school, they are fine for a few years, and then they kill the neighbor’s dog.”

BONNIE V. BEAVER, BS, DVM, MS, DACVB, Professor and Chief of Medicine, Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University
Executive Director, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
By its origin, a pit bull is a fighting dog that takes very little stimulous to initiate aggression, and it will continue to fight regardless of what happens.

Pit bulldogs have been responsible for about 70 percent of the deaths of humans killed by dogs since 1979.

DubV said...

read this

http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2010/03/between-two-lies-lost-opportunity-for.html

Retrieverman said...

Don't quote terrierman.

I don't know what your point is.

But the man is the worst kind of hack.

DubV said...

And what about the post I pasted is incorrect?