What is a Dangerous Dog?

What do they look like?

Dog 1
Dog 2
Dog 3
          Dangerous is defined by dictionary.reference.com as able or likely to cause physical injury. It makes no distinction as to the size of the animal that might be dangerous or the degree of injury it might cause. It also defines dangerous in a physical sense, making no mention of something being dangerous because it might cause mental injury. 
         From the three photos posted above which of these dogs is more likely to be dangerous (dog 2 and dog 3 are owned by me, dog 1 is a dog from one of my training classes)? 
        You might have said that Dog 1 looked a bit like a pit bull terrier, or what you perceive pit bull terriers might look like. Dog 2 might have been chosen as it was behind a wire fence looked like it was lunging and barking. I am sure most of you would not have said Dog 3 as it looks so cute and cuddly and is clearly a much loved indoor pet sitting with a cute toy. Alternatively you might have liked Dog 1 because it has a nice look in its eye. I think that probably most would not have liked Dog 2 due to where it is photographed and it’s attitude. 
       So which is the correct answer?
       Dog 1 is a ridge back cross (cross with what we don’t know) and I was asked to consult on this rescue dog because it was jumping the fence as a young dog and chasing the neighbours goats and chickens. It had not done any damage and had not been labelled dangerous, however it has not yet had the chance to do anything dangerous. But I did feel it was on it’s way towards that as it was carrying out what is to a Ridge Back hard-wired behaviour to chase and pull down something that runs.
     Dog 2 is one of my Belgian Shepherds called Honey. This photo was taken when we had strange people at our gate, who the dogs were telling me should not have been there at all. She was penned as we were an hour off being in the middle of the World Car Rally and were under house arrest. I did rev her up a bit for this photo and she was lunging and barking at the fence. Would I trust her around small, unfamiliar dogs or cute and cuddly rabbits and chickens. No way!  She has a moderate prey drive and if it runs she likes to chase it. She had not pulled anything down yet but has the potential. She has also had limited exposure to small cute fluffy dogs and cats.
     Dog 3 is Napoleon, my sable phantom Miniature Poodle that sleeps on my bed at night. He gets on well with most dogs but he is an entire male and at times gets a bit ansy around other entire males if they go near his favourite girl. He is not to be trusted around kittens and young cats as he seems to find them so like his stuffed toys. He works in our training centre to help pups and dogs that don’t have a good understanding about canine body language because he does a very nice lip curl when a puppy or older dog without canine good manners gets in his face. (But this is always done only under strict supervision),
     The important point here is that any dog can be dangerous based on the definition given. Too often we make the mistake that a dog is dangerous based on their breed or our perceived idea of what we think a dog will be. We think because a dog is small or large it will or will not be dangerous. Sure a bigger dog with greater muscle strength can do more damage but after ten years professionally grooming the most dangerous dogs I have come across were two long legged terrier crosses. Both of these dogs has a single minded determination to hurt me no matter what I was doing. In fact one had a good go at my retreating back. I also had an experience where an out of control 6 month old German Shepherd hurt me fairly badly due to her friendly action of jumping up and air snapping above my head. This was an scary experience and the dog was well on the way to a dangerous dog label due to no fault of her own. 

    “What makes a dog dangerous or not is their owner”

     Any dog in the wrong situation has the potential to be dangerous. Too many owners, probably most, fail to understand what their dog is capable of, fail to pick the right dog for their situation and then don’t provide responsible ownership. Dog are dogs not small humans. They are genetically hard-wired by years of selective breeding and often come from breeding situations where they have not been correctly raised. Please don’t automatically put puppy farms into this scenario as I have seen plenty of dogs who have come from registered breeders, rescue organisations and well intentioned but uneducated mums and dads that just want the kids to experience their dog having a litter.
    I also take issue with the definition of dangerous being only physical damage. Some dogs are capable of considerable mental damage. I have seen many young puppies mentally bullied by older dogs. This can also happen in litters when different personalities are all placed together in close contact for endless hours with limited supervision. 
    Owning a dog is a big responsibility and one that owners should take on only with considerable thought and education on how to have a dog in their household that is not going to be a threat to others in their household or others in society.
 It is these topics this blog will attempt to provide education on,  building week by week into a resource that pet owners, potential pet owners and those who interact with dogs daily can access FREE to learn how to keep themselves safe. Hopefully it will also aid in preventing what the dog community is concerned about and that is the widening of BSL to include most breeds of dogs with the result being that man’s best friend is no longer welcome in our future societies.

Until next week………….
Stay safe and remember to Kiss the dog, hug the cat and tell your goldfish you love them.


Louise Kerr 
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming pets. Her innovated pet care magic subscription program  helps pet owners and pet care professionals Australia wide to provide the best possible care for their pets and pet owning clients. 


Posted on September 12, 2011, in Dog Training, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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