I see in my email feed nearly every day lists of the "most dangerous dog breeds". The sources range from the commercially driven (Insurance Companies) to the simply crazy. Far too many journalists fall for this tripe, especially as it works so well as click bait for websites. Titles are usually "10 Most Dangerous Breeds", "15 Things That Will Panic You About Vicious Dogs", or "What this dog did after eating three children WILL SHOCK YOU".
In order to keep up with the trashy websites here is my list (in no particular order) of the Seven Most Dangerous Dog Breeds:
1) Miniature Fearful Bitey Armbaby
2) Large Dog In An Undersized Body Terrierist
3) Dogue Unsocializada
4) I-Don't-Know-Children-But-I-Look-Like-I-Need-A-Hug Untriever
5) Wildicus No-Manner Hound
6) Rottenator (AKA "Mr. I'll Be Back")
I'm sure you may just be a little unfamiliar with these breeds. I can assure you that, as a trainer and behavior consultant I have seen them all. The do present varying levels of danger, so lets look at them one at a time so you can identify them when you find them in the wild.
1) Miniature Fearful Bitey Armbaby. This breed typically weighs less than twenty pounds and comes in both long coated and smooth coated examples. They are naturally found at about four feet above ground level, often contained in a carrier or, as in their natural wild state, in the arms of a clueless human being. The natural range of these dogs is from middle-upper class to the higher socioeconomic groupings, and are observed in tony neighborhoods across the fashionable areas of the planet. These dogs often have underdeveloped pads as they rarely touch ground, but to compensate they have well-developed human accessories that transport them everywhere.
Their snarl and sharp bark are unmistakable, as the bark is usually immediately echoed by their human transport accessory repeating "Oh, she doesn't bite"...which she certainly does.
Although they have trained their human transport accessories to deny their edginess and solicit petting, do not be fooled. Any proferred digits will be happily munched upon. They particularly like engaging with faces, so maintain a safe distance.
2) Large Dog In An Undersized Body Terrierist. These dogs are often just a size or two bigger than the Miniature Armbaby, but they are convinced they are far larger. They can be fearful but overcompensate for that fear by providing a very brazen exterior. Their excited, repetitive bark pierces even the best of noise cancelling technology. The are also wise in the ways of the world-they will confront a human with their violent barking, and then when the human unwisely retreats by turning away they lunge into kill human achilles tendons. They operate on the assumption that a human unable to walk for life will simply stay and feed them cookies to shut them up.
These dogs often cause collateral damage by confronting other breeds, such as the Dogue Unsocializada (when off their chain). They then and write a check with their mouths that their fanny can't cash, requiring some poor, compassionate human to intervene for them. The well meaning human then gets bitten by both the other dog AND by the Terrierist, who takes advantage of any cheap shot that comes his/her way.
3) Dogue Unsocializada. These dogs vary in size and may be found indoors or out. They are related to the above Miniature Armbaby and the Untriever (all part of the Fearful Group) but have a much greater range of size and coat types. Their most noted breed identifying characteristic is their exposed teeth and their retrograde motion when approached by anything bigger than a squirrel.
This dog's natural habitat is attached to a chain, usually in a back yard. This breed is noted for its lack of exposure to anything positive from the humans "caring" for the dogs. They have never met a stranger they didn't fear (or threaten) nor another dog they could deal with. Default behavior by these dogs is a terrifying display of teeth, fierce frantic barking and lunging to the end of the chain, and the general notion that they intend to eat anything smaller than an M1A1 tank.
The frantic display noted is a clear message to reasonable persons that they should never get this dog in a corner. Sometimes, however, impaired adults and children wander into this dog's "circle of terror" (AKA the worn path around their tree) and tragedy strikes. They may become loose cannons in the neighborhood when the owner misjudges the holding capacity of the worn out raggedy piece of rope they have used to mend the rusting chain restraining them, and their lack of confidence, masked of course by their fierce overcompensation, makes them a hazard to approach.
4) I-Don't-Know-Children-But-I-Look-Like-I-Need-A-Hug Untriever. This poor soul goes through life with big soft eyes, a furry welcoming look, and a horror of anything that suddenly approaches. This is especially seen when the rapidly approching object happens to be a small human with a big smile and wide open arms.
The Untriever just wants to be left alone because he/she has never been properly immunized against the terror. Sure, he may have been around a child once or twice. That may have resulted in tail pulling, poking in the eye, grabbing of ears, and general mauling. Otherwise this poor soul has been able to avoid most close contact with the diminutive, unmannered version of humans. Sadly, the posture this guy takes to try and make the scary world go away looks to small people like he is "sad" and needs a good, tight, face-to-face squishy hug. Which the Untriever just can't take. The result of this is often an application of teeth to the closest piece of the scary munchkin to get it to just GO AWAY. Which is usually the munchkin's face. Leashes amd muzzles help, but only if the child's parents have them properly fitted and in use.
5) Wildicus No-Manner Hound. Also sometimes referred to as the Borderless Collie for the longer haired version. This dog...roams. All of the time. Everywhere. This dog knows no boundaries. International treaties and neighbor fences have no meaning. Often found on someone else's porch or in their garage eating poop out of their cat's litter box, they are usually more of an annoyance than a real danger.
HOWEVER: since the world is their oyster, they may become possessive of other people's stuff. Like their front steps. Or their yard. Once this dog decides that a particular place is theirs they treat it just like they own it. They pee and poo all over it. They freedly dig up moles, flowers, and anywhere they suspect there may be buried treasure. Since they own the place they may well threaten the former owners (the people who actually live there) with violence. This breed may prevent people from entering-or leaving, depending on the day.
This breed also has a high prey drive, and its natural prey usually involves moving bicycles or skateboards. The biggest danger from this breed is that they are capable of not only chasing down prey from behind, but are smart enough to see it coming and lurk along the path, exactly calculating the most likely intercept course.
6) Rottenator (AKA Mr. I'll Be Back). This dog is big. I mean really big. Usually bigger than that. Yep, even a little bigger than that. This guy is intimidating. Since he is often related to the Wildicus he is likely to be loose at least part of the time. This dog scares large children and adults driving anything smaller than a Humvee. At a fence line this dog is fierce, let me tell you.
Fortunately, this breed is most usually more bark than bite. Even though they can remove a torso with a single bite they often turn into big mush-balls when you get past the fierce exterior. Or are invited into their yard by the owner. The big problem is that you can never tell, even when the owner is saying that "He just loves people! He won't bite!" Yep. He loves people for lunch. Or a snack.
This dog can be taught to be fine and friendly, but that requires a little effort from the owner-who is usually clueless about the possible threat their dog presents. Owners may actually encourage the dog to display serious threats to passing people because they want a "Guard Dog". Or worse, the owner finds it funny to scare the pants off anyone passing. Despite the appearence, this dog is not having fun. This dog has actually been perverted from what is likely a desire to be a big couch cushion to being a status symbol for a person compensating for unresolved issues. This dog is doing what he has been rewarded for, but would really rather have a cookie. The size of Missouri.
Well, there they are. Yes, I know I said Seven Most Dangerous Breeds and only gave you six. Since too many people assume that there really are inherently dangerous breeds of dogs, I will leave the last slot for the imaginative or deluded to fill in their favorite breed-of-the-moment. Personally, the breed that I most encounter that is inherently vicious, bites most often, cannot be trusted, and will predictably attack when you least expect it....has two legs.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Despite the title, this is not one of THOSE articles.
I hate clickbait articles that purport to give you ten things that will save you marriage, or five things you didn't know about the celebrity family that we know far too much about. But I was contacted the other day by a national magazine publishing an article about "How to be (or not be) a hero". They looked at scenarios where people might want to intervene and help out someone that is being victimized actively in one way or another. The answer is mostly "Don't. Call 911. Let the professionals do this!"
The author still presents advice, and asked me about responding to a dog attack. Honestly, I get this kind of question fairly regularly. Even for professionals, getting involved is very dangerous when it comes to a dog attack. Dog attacks are really scary-and chances are any savior will also get injured, potentially very seriously. Yet we all want to help when we see someone in trouble.
If you insist on intervening as a good guy you need to think about a couple things.
First off, CALL 911. GET REAL HELP.
When that is done, IF you decide you just have to do something...
1) DON'T BECOME THE NEXT VICTIM! Many dogs aroused to attack will, if deprived of their first target, redirect. That means they release one thing and bite the next thing they can reach. That may be you. As they told us as young cops learning to drive fast, you're no help if you don't get there. Battle scars may be cool, but trust me-dog bites hurt like hell. Don't add to the victim count.
2) Try not to scream in panic! The victim is already probably doing that and it just makes things worse. Instead, yell loud and low "NO! LEAVE IT ! SIT!" Yell like you really mean it. Like a drill sergeant. Yell with authority and direction. Sometimes it even works.
3) Try to use something non-human to stick between the victim and the dog. A trashcan lid-or the whole trash can. A big piece of wood. A backpack. Anything that can separate the dog and victim.
4) IMPROVISE. If you can grab a fire extinguisher, hose that puppy down. It will distract and probably drive them away. You can clean up later. If you have a loud noise maker like an air horn, use it to startle and distract the dog. Water works too sometimes.
5) DON'T REACH IN BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE VICTIM. If you feel that you HAVE to put your hands in there, grab the dog from behind, by the back legs. Keep space between you and the business end. The dog, if cranked enough, may turn and redirect to you, so part two is pull the dog back, spin him using his legs as a handle, and toss that bad boy away from you and the victim. THEN use something to keep him from coming back a you, like a physical object or a barrier. Will this harm the dog? Most likely. Is it humane? No. But it works, and we are talking saving a human life here. Firearms should only be used by a trained professional, and then mostly not. Flying lead is more dangerous than the dog. Dogs are small, moving targets in direct contact with the victim. That's too close for a safe shot.
There you go. My five tips on how to play hero and probably get yourself bitten by getting into the middle of a dog attack. Here is the predictable warning in plain terms in case you weren't really listening above:
IF YOU GET INVOLVED IN A DOG ATTACK YOU WILL PROBABLY BE INJURED, MAYBE SERIOUSLY, POSSIBLY WORSE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE SO IT IS YOUR DECISION ALONE AND I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.
If you do put on your Superman cape and jump in, try and remember the above suggestions. They might just help you suffer a little less. Who knows: it might just work.
Link to the Men's Health article here: When you should and shouldn't be a hero