Aggression in Dogs Causes of the Increase
Aggression in dogs: the increase
I am not an ethologist, but from more than 30 years of clinical experience, I have witnessed the increase of the aggression in dogs. Fioroni, an author of a famous dog encyclopedia, gave repeatedly serene descriptions of every breed. Of course, the subjects studied were of good character, and always balanced.
When this animal was still “normal”, a friend of humans, all the dogs were fundamentally good and affectionate, even those used as watchdogs or for defense. In my clinic, I could easily visit subjects of seventy or eighty kilo without a muzzle and without the slightest hint of aggression. Moreover, in these times, the number of daily visits for a veterinarian was very high, so it was possible to have a very impressive series. The dogs that bit were few; they stood out. The tawny cocker, whom many of them were very unpredictable and could ”soak” you with painful bites that tended to give infection. And so, the poor Fioroni, as I heard him described not so long ago, was a poor fool as according to him all dogs were good. He was absolutely right: when the dogs were “normal”, the percentage of “bad” subjects was objectively low.
Aggression in dogs: the reason why
Unfortunately, for reasons dependent upon changes in the human environment, the situation has worsened in the years between 1978 and 1990. There has been an appearance of a disproportionate number of pack leader subjects and a progressive increase of aggression in certain breeds. The controversy regarding breeds considered dangerous continues and the technicians are almost convinced that they don’t exist and that the problem is just the owners, without even questioning the premise. Yet, going to the premises precisely (Parmenides, the Philosopher, asserted that if the premises are wrong, all the consequences are wrong), we realize that we start from erroneous belief. If we judge everything carefully BEFORE commencing any work, it would avoid a series of incredible failures, misinterpretations, and outrageous mistakes. One of the fundamentals in the canine world, born from the fact described above, that such animals have changed impressively within the last 35 years, with the peak of the phenomenon between 1975 to 1995, both in behavior and diseases are afflicted. Moreover, these changes very fast or we experienced in person or can be perceived only by experts or older “dated” books. Who was born in certain historical period is led to believe that what he sees is the norm and of course act accordingly. Anyone who, like me have lived those years, dealing with many animals daily (we veterinaries for small animals were very few, and for the sector contemporary boom, a large number of clients), can easily confirm that the dogs were tame (apart from the obvious a few exceptions). Very sweet to children and absolutely reliable, ready, however to become fierce in the presence of danger, of a threat in case of absence of the owner from home. Simply, they were guarding and defending the owner or the children only when it was necessary.
The situation has changed strikingly in the last few years. Puppies at the age of 20 days, maybe still with semi closed eyes, have had more than 60/70% of subjects intolerant to manipulation, hyperactive, and refusing to come close to visitors. Before, I had advised owners to choose the liveliest puppy, which would grow into a nice pack leader. Better now to opt for the more calm which in most cases will become a normal dog.
There is an old proverb that says “dog doesn’t eat dog”, but from those years, it has become common to witness puppies slaughtered by adult dogs and fierce, often fatal, quarrels among adults. In this regard, it was very common, before this change, to see “aggressions” of small dogs towards large dogs without the giants deigning any consideration. These dogs would never have dreamed of biting a child and would stoically endure their harassment. Obviously, I have always insisted on the need to educate children to respect animals and never torture them, but in every case, the printed ancestral laws inside every dog prevented this type of reaction. These laws no longer work, and any expert is forced to warn owners of almost any breed on the possible risk of an attack, often for a futile reason.
Forza10 Founder and Head of SANYpet’s Research and Development Department Veterinary surgeon and international expert in food-borne diseases