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Old 04-26-2009, 04:16 AM   #1

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Do aggressive dogs learn from owners?

Here is a bit of an abstract from a study in Forensic Sciences. What do you all think?

Abstract: "This study examined whether vicious dog owners were different on antisocial behaviors and personality dimensions. .....Findings revealed vicious dog owners reported significantly more criminal behaviors than other dog owners. Vicious dog owners were higher in sensation seeking and primary psychopathy. Study results suggest that vicious dog ownership may be a simple marker of broader social deviance." see the reference at:
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Old 04-26-2009, 07:12 PM   #2
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I think a dog learns from it's owner, not the other way around.
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Old 04-26-2009, 07:27 PM   #3
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I couldn't get into the link, but I agree, nasty dogs seem to belong to nasty people.
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Old 04-27-2009, 03:48 PM   #4
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I couldn't get the link either, but it sounds like an intersting study. I would definitely believe that the owners attitude has some role in the behavior of the dog but there are definitely exceptions and we all know that the purpose of the breed and the socialization play a huge role as well.

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Old 04-27-2009, 03:59 PM   #5
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I couldn't get to the link either, but I agree that nasty is what nasty gets. But I also wonder if the same applies for cowering or submissive dog behaviour? Do dogs pick up on the fears and insecurities of their owners or do they primarily exploit those insecurities by becoming out of control dogs? If the fear or insecurities were not in the dog to begin with, will they develop over time in response or observation of the owner?
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:11 PM   #6
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I think this is true in many cases; particularly the people who use dogs to intimidate others on purpose.

The exception in my life is the dog my sister adopted out of Kentucky. It was running in a national park and brought to Minnesota by a no kill shelter. Rabbit, as my sister calls her, is a husky type cross that is a fear biter. My sister has tried hard to rehabilitate her but has to be satisfied with keeping her away from other dogs and warning friends and family to leave her alone. This dog is lucky to have my sister who loves her as not everyone would want to keep this girl. We can hike together with our dogs as long as no food or toys are involved.

My sister is a gentle loving dog owner who would love to have a social dog but won't abandon this dog who needs her. Just an exception to the norm, I think.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:23 PM   #7
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I think people tend to pick a breed that match's there personality. With exceptions you don't see to many gang bangers walking a golden or caviler. Sweet poly pure bred isn't out there with a bad tempered pitbull. People pick there breed for a reason and train them to there liking.
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:20 PM   #8
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Fear biting is different from aggression, but not to the person getting bit. Some confidence building might help. Start with obedience training. The key to most behavior problems is approaching things using the dog's natural instincts. Dogs see all the people and dogs in the household as a pack with each having their own rank in the pack and a top dog. Life is much easier if the 2 legged pack members outrank the 4 legged ones. You can learn to play the role of top dog by reading some books or going to a good obedience class. A good obedience class or book is about you being top dog, not about rewarding standard commands with a treat. Start at As you praise the dog for following your commands, it will build its confidence.

Play tug of war with the dog and lose. However at the end of the game, take the rope or toy and put it up, less the dog becomes confused about who is top dog. Ropes from the pets' store quickly turn to hazardous shreds. Ones I made lasted much better. Go to a hardware or home center that sells rope by the foot. Buy 2' of 3/4" poly rope. Melt the ends, and tie knots in it. Get them as tight as possible, put it in a vise and pound it with a hammer. Watch carefully, and be ready to discard when it comes apart.

Finally, make sure it has a den to live in. If you are not using a crate, buy one. The dog may be happier in its den than loose in the house. It relaxes, it feels safe in its den. It rests, the body slows down reducing the need for water and relieving its self. Dogs that have been crated all along do very well. Many of them will rest in their crates even when the door is open. I think the plastic ones give the dog more of a safe, enclosed den feeling. Metal ones can be put in a corner or covered with something the dog can't pull in and chew. Select a crate just big enough for the full grown dog to stretch out in.

A dog that has not been crated since it was little, may take some work. Start out just putting its toys and treats in the crate. Praise it for going in. Feed it in the crate. This is also an easy way to maintain order at feeding time for more than one dog.

Grizzle is right about the dogs people select. I never saw a Poodle patrolling a junkyard. I have seen a Dobe working as a dog guide. I wonder if that lady has any less of a problem with strangers wanting to pet her dog. I once mentioned to a friend that I had never seen a mean Lab. he had. He worked for the electric company and had spent 5 years reading meters.
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:33 PM   #9
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Thanks Labman for your tips on fear biters. My sister has done all of these things quite well and has a great relationship with her dog, as does her grown daughter. The crate info was especially interesting. Rabbit LOVES her crate and choses to be there when strangers are in the apartment. I can get along with Rabbit as long as I remain purposeful in my actions around the dog. The problem is dealing with being on the street with her dog or with people who try to walk up and reach for her. It's amazing how many people don't listen when you tell them not to touch the dog. Luckily, Rabbit growls a warning or snaps close to you before an actual bite. She's been to training classes but couldn't tolerate the crowds so my sister trains alone. She's very smart and obedient and adores my sister and her daughter so they'll never part with her, but she's always going to look aggressive to others, even though she goes out of her way to avoid contact with children and strangers. She can be aggressive with dogs so my sister keeps her away from them and warns people to keep their dogs in check. It's a hard situation since my sister loves this dog. Our family ignores the dog and no one is ever bothered by her. It's just lucky Rabbit found my sis or she would have had a bad end.
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:08 PM   #10
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i think a week or so ago i would have been undecided on this subject but given recent my recent experiences i would have to agree that aggression can often be learnt from the owner, and i agree that people often choose their breed because of this. i often get comments when walking charlie about how he is a 'mans' dog. im just glad i got him instead of some fool who wanted him as a 'tough' dog and status symbol.
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