Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

You may be familiar with BSL- breed restrictive legislation which says that specific “dangerous breeds” need to wear muzzles when out and about, among other rules. These dogs have all been lumped into the same category of being dangerous due to people making them look that way, but are they really that bad. Are all Rottweiler’s and German Sheppard’s really that bad. Here at Creedons College, we don’t believe they are. Each dog is different and should be treated as the individual they are.

A study was carried out on more than 80’000 dogs, one of the biggest studies ever to find out more. It showed that there is actually a lot of different behaviours found in the same breed. There are many different breeds, bred for many different reasons. This began as breeding for work, but then breeding for aesthetic reasons quickly took over. Collies bred for herding are now being housed as pet dogs, but they still show herding traits with people or other animals in the house.

Dr. James Serpell, a behaviourist in Pennsylvania wanted to carry out a survey of dog breeds and see how ingrained these traits were. However it would be difficult to do in a domestic situation so he created C-BARQ. This is an online tool where dog owners can reveal their dog’s behaviours by observing how they responded to certain stimuli. The information gathered showed there were clear patterns of behaviour in particular with aggression.

10-15% showed high levels of aggression while 20-30% showed none. Pit bulls and Akitas, breed for fighting and guard dogs showed high levels of aggression towards other dogs. Probably the most surprising was the most aggressive breed towards dogs, strangers and their owner…..dachshunds.

What this study showed was that dogs are more complex than people think. When looking at a dog’s behaviour, rather than looking at the bred, the owner and environment has more influence. We may not realise it but we are giving our dogs signals all the time. These signals are affecting their behaviour and how they react to different stimuli.

So next time your dog does something wrong, ask yourself, what could I have done to prevent that? What can I do to set my dog up for future success. Maybe it’s time we concentrate less on the bred and more on the dog.