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Controversy in Management Route For Dog Aggression

August 8, 2009

The July 24th 2009 L.A. Times story about a dog named Cotton whose guardian treated his aggression situation with a medical procedure called “Canine Disarming” (filing down of teeth to help prevent bite damage). She had initially tried some behavior modification, even went to the self-proclaimed Dog Whisperer. But it was the dental procedure that stirred up a lot of controversy, at least according to Craig Nakano, the journalist whose follow-up article in today’s L.A. Times Home and Garden section has stated. 

When the article first came out, of course I had my two cents to add. This treatment is used as a “management tool”, as opposed to behavior modification. (As a certified professional dog trainer I would have used a plastic basket muzzle and behavior mod that Cotton’s guardians could easily follow). 
I wrote to the editor not expecting to hear anything back. But what do ya know, Craig contacted me yesterday. He said out of all of the emails they received, mine was one that stood out from the others because I remained more “neutral”. I think “neutral” in the sense that I didn’t completely berate Cotton’s guardian. Hey folks, isn’t this similar to castrating a rapist? Ruh-roh, now I’m gonna stir up my own controversy. 
Anyway, although I do not agree with this treatment, and I would have completely gone a different route had she contacted me for private dog training services, I think berating her would have been too punishing, and that is not in my nature. I also believe that:
  1. They still love Cotton.
  2. The family probably felt this was their last resort.
  3. They wanted to protect the public at all costs.
  4. They didn’t want to unload Cotton’s issues onto anyone else – which seems to be more the norm in our society, and I commend them for that. (I received three emails alone this week of people looking to get rid of their dogs because they didn’t want to deal with them any longer…including one situation where one person in the household wanted for the dog to sleep outside, and the other said inside, so instead they’re going to re-home the dog! UGH, but that’s a whole different post…)
I’m hoping a situation like this will prompt the powers in charge to develop laws and protocols that protect our domestic pets, not only for situations if a dog end up like this, but in hopes of preventing these behavior issues from happening in the first place. Hmm, how about making it mandatory that:
  • Breeding dogs MUST be an actual professional legitimate business. Not breeding out of their backyard just because the dog is cute or they need the money.
  • Breeders pay a higher fee for breeding since they are contributing to the increased pet population. What, you don’t think purebred dogs get dumped at shelters? HA! 
  • Breeder and dog guardians MUST BE required to socialize dogs properly to our human environment so they can adapt more easily and reduce the risk of developing aggressive tendencies in the first place!!!
  • Dog guardians MUST BE required to enroll their young dogs into dog training classes that adhere to humane methods of teaching. And, they must continue their dogs education (and their own, right?) with dog training classes, workshops, sports like agility or Rally-O so everyone can keep up their skills – especially their socialization skills. 
  • And finally, if I may so bold: mandatory spay/neuter… Ruh-roh, more controversy! 
It would also be nice to have more dog-friendly places to take our dogs. Instead of having to either take them to the same places over and over again, or resorting to leave them at home all of the time, and not allowing them to be exposed to people and situations that we all of a sudden want them to be used to. 
Okay, now that I’ve stirred up my own controversy I’m gonna take Poncho out for some socialization, then have him help me set up for our Canine Circuit Training class tomorrow, while you write in with your comments. 

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