Many people read the paper or the news on their smart phones or tablets when they wake up in the morning. Perhaps you use your handheld electronics to catch up on current events, your family’s lives on social media, or even your favorite gossip websites first thing in the morning when you enjoy your coffee. You probably do it during the week as quickly as possible so you can start your day, and you probably get to spend a bit more leisure time doing it on the weekends.
Imagine waking up one weekend morning, pouring a steaming cup of coffee and sitting down in the living room with your spouse while your infant twins, toddler and first grader play on the floor. You scroll through the recent local news on your phone only to see that a little boy, 2-years-old, from the same area in which you live was killed the day before after his parents allowed him to play outside unattended with four adult Rottweiler dogs. While the news didn’t specify what happened or provide any details, all that is known is this child was killed after he was attacked by the four animals in his own back yard while his mother, father and two siblings were inside their home. By the time authorities arrived on scene, it was too late; that’s how my morning began on Sunday.
It’s this kind of story that makes you second guess owning a large dog, particularly one that’s a reputed aggressive breed. No matter how many times you hear of a dog such as a Rottweiler saving the lives of a child or a family in a burning home, it’s stories like this that you remember most. In a home in which we are considering a large dog as a family pet, it’s difficult to read stories such as this. It’s difficult to imagine the loss of a child, or the knowledge that in one day a family can lose a toddler, see a father arrested, watch their two other children taken away by authorities and have their animals taken away by animal control (there were several other dogs present at the home in addition to the four Rottweilers).
Unfortunately, there is no way to know yet whether or not these dogs were bred to be aggressive, if they were unstable in some way or if they were just the product of a family who was not able to properly train them. What we can deduce from a tragic situation such as this is the fact that no dog should ever attack a child. In this situation, we just don’t know yet what caused the dogs to attack a 2-year-old boy. What we can say, however, is that if you are considering a large dog, you should do all the research on training you can prior to obtaining the dog. Your actions, your training and your dominance in the dog’s life can make a world of difference.
You probably don’t want a Rottweiler after reading this, and that’s fine. No one is going to be offended or angry that you don’t want a large dog that’s often described as aggressive. However, if you do want one, you’re in the process of adopting or purchasing one, or you simply want to know what you can do to minimize the risk of your dog growing up aggressive, we can help you.
According to Cesar Milan, dog expert, there is no such thing as an aggressive breed. There is, however, such thing as an aggressive dog. The difference is that most people don’t care much about aggressive Maltese puppies or teacup Chihuahuas because they’re so small it makes no difference. What scares people are large aggressive dogs, and for good reason. An aggressive Chihuahua is not going to inflict nearly the same amount of damage on a child or adult as a Rottweiler, pitbull or Cane Corso. That’s the difference.
Additionally, while it’s true that some breeds were bred for aggressive behavior in the past, most are not aggressive dogs by nature. It takes learning this behavior to make a dog aggressive, and it’s not right to blame the breed, according to Milan.
Become the Leader
With a large dog, it is absolutely necessary to establish yourself as the dominant leader in the ‘pack’ that is your family. If you do not exert and express your dominance, large breeds are going to take on that role for themselves and often become difficult to control. Many times, dogs that end up on the news for their bad behavior are being raised by people who purposely breed their dogs for this behavior, or people who simply have no idea how to raise a breed this large.
You cannot allow your large dog (or small dog, really) to get away with any inappropriate behavior. All this does is show the dog that sometimes it’s okay to misbehave. It’s imperative that all inappropriate behavior no matter how big or small is addressed immediately. Additionally, praise is just as necessary as discipline when it comes to training and raising a dog you want to behave appropriately.
Do Not Breed Fear
Sometimes dogs aren’t aggressive, they’re fearful, and that causes them to act out in a way that’s dangerous to others. This commonly happens when a dog is not fed often, not exercised enough and not treated well. Believe it or not, there are people in the world who believe that abuse or physical punishment is appropriate for training dogs, and it’s not. When your dog is left wondering where it’s next meal is coming from, if it’s locked up for days on end without any exercise and when it’s treated poorly, it’s chances of being an aggressive dog increase dramatically.
Watch Your Kids
While there are millions of dogs in this world that will take care of your children in a way you cannot describe, it’s always better to be safe than it is sorry. Most dogs are loving, protective and would do anything to keep a child safe and would never, ever think of harming a child. But it’s always better to be safe than it is to be sorry. If you feel this way, don’t let your dog and children play unsupervised. Stay in the room, keep both in the house at the same time or only let one out at a time if you’re not going to be present to keep an eye on things. At least if the dog decides to become aggressive due to a chemical imbalance or genetic disorder, you’re there to stop it before it’s too late.
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