Most civilized people believe that prejudice; bigotry and racial profiling are unacceptable. Then why is it so widely accepted in the dog world?
Many trainers, kennel clubs, dog organizations, behaviour specialists, other dog professionals and guardians continue to teach and preach breed profiling. We believe this to be discrimination and downright perilous for everyone involved. Dogs are dogs, plain and simple. Forget the breed because in the end, what makes them tick is universal and their thought processes are the same.
It’s true that each breed was bred for unique tendencies, drives and characteristics such as herding, guarding, or retrieval – but to make blanket statements about any particular breed is misguided. For example, we’ve heard many times that Rottweilers have a greater propensity toward aggression or that Pitbulls are more dangerous than other dogs. But having trained dogs for over twenty-five years our experience has taught us that this is misinformed.
All dogs and people are capable of aggression in fact; aggression is communication – plain and simple. All dogs are capable of biting if the circumstance calls for it because everyone can be forced to defend themselves. Any way you slice it, package or justify it, breed banning is segregation. It appears as though the issue of Pitbull banning isn’t going away any more than racism is.
Kitchener, Ontario was one of the first cities in Canada to ban Pitbulls. Our training facility was called upon to do the temperament testing in order to grandfather Pitbulls that were already in town. We met over fifty amazing Pitbulls that day.
Before the ban we welcomed Pitbulls into our classes and didn’t have any more trouble with them than any other breed. Of the hundreds of aggression consultations we've conducted over the years, the aggressive dogs we were working with were rarely Pitbulls. Many were the smaller, under-estimated breeds and some were Labs and Golden Retrievers. In other words, the aggressive dogs we’ve worked with spanned all breeds and sizes.
Without the interference of underlying physiological or psychological issues, dogs quite simply become what humans create and shape. Humans are notorious for categorizing things into neat little boxes but when dealing with canines, handlers must think outside the box because every dog has a unique genetic make up, personality and background. However, they all learn, think and reason in the same way – through cause and effect. So if a Boxer becomes a bully, that’s what it’s learned and if a Jack Russell is a biter, that’s what it’s been taught. Our point is that the breed is not the issue.
Most aggression is caused by people, whether it’s from breeding fearful or aggressive dogs, failing to sufficiently train and socialize at a young age, using dominance methods instead of positive, failing to protect, or neglecting and/or abusing dogs. And unfortunately, many unsuspecting well-intended people unknowingly rescue aggressive dogs and inherit someone else’s problem.
Breedism is racism plain and simple. We don’t accept racism against people and will not accept it with the dogs. A dog is a dog – four legs, a wet nose, and a tail – with a cause and effect brain directing the whole show! We need to embrace our dogs for their uniqueness and prevent and troubleshoot behaviour issues instead of punishing or making excuses for them by breed profiling.
Copyright June, 2017 - Norma Jeanne Laurette * Greg Ceci, CCS - Canine Correspondence Studies, ACTT - Applied Canine Therapy & Training