Thursday, June 9, 2016

the language of dogs, normal and psychopathic

Trish King and the marin humane society held a very interesting seminar on dog introductions a couple of years ago and they were generous enough to share it with the world by uploading it to youtube in 7 parts. i have seen all 7 parts and i strongly recommend watching all seven. it is extremely informative. but for the purposes of this blog post, i am only focusing on the first minute of part 2 and from 6:10 to the end of part 3.

experienced pit nutters advise newbies to the breed never to take their mutants to the dog park, because even if their pit dogs didn't start the fight, they will finish the fight. every time the media reports that a pit bull attacked another dog, the pit nutters will rush on line and defend their mutants by claiming that the poodle started it. it happened last weekend in washington DC with the fiasco involving PARROT, LUCKY DOG ANIMAL RESCUE and AARON BLOCK. the question is which dog really started it?

the language that NORMAL dogs speak is much different from mutant pit dogs. one huge difference, normal dogs don't engage in direct eye contact. direct eye contact is considered rude in the world of normal dogs. pit bulls not only engage in this rude behavior, they often force it on normal dogs. this is scary to normal dogs and they very often respond the only way they know how, by growling or snapping a quick harmless message "hey, back off! you're out of line!". normal dogs are not threatened by a growl or a snap, pit bulls however interpret the normal dog's message as an invitation to fight. i have seen first hand the hard stare pit bulls throw at dogs, my dogs. thankfully my dogs ignored them but they are large confident dogs. i can see how a smaller or less confident dog would feel threatened and try to correct the frankenmauler's deviant behavior.

informing a psychopath that their behavior is out of line, should not be a death sentence.

"There is no direct eye contact or very little direct eye contact. It is very quick and over with. Which is one reason why with pit bulls and rottweilers, we have problems. Because they're bred to do direct eye contact and so they are off putting to other dogs and actually scary to other dogs." (you can stop here and go onto part 3 if you like)

at 6:10, King plays a short video of a pit bull being introduced to her german shepherd. King comments about how the pit bull cut off the gsd and attempted to force direct eye contact. at 8:14, turn up the volume and listen carefully to the pit nutter in the audience. "I get that with my pit bull, it's almost like he doesn't want to start the fight, he wants the other dog to start it. I'm not gonna start it but come on, you start it."

dog introductions

Trish King appears to be a pretty smart cookie when it comes to dogs. she is the director of animal behavior & training at the marin humane society. she is an author and has several videos available at tawzerdogs like "different breeds have different needs". from what i can ferret out, she is anti-BSL but she is also very honest about pit bulls which has gotten her into trouble with the pit nutter community. for example, in 2007 DONNA REYNOLDS received the following handout in an email from King. DONNA deleted it from the badrap website (i found it on another nutter site) but she left the disgruntled pit nutters' discussion up.

'Pit Bull Terriers and Other Bully Breeds'
Trish King, Behavior & Training Dept. Marin Humane Society

There is a lot of prejudice - even hysteria - in the U.S. right now with regard to Pit Bull Terriers and other dogs like them. Our shelters - especially in urban areas - are filled with pit bulls and pit mixes. Very few of them are adoptable, and even fewer are actually adopted. Those that are adopted are often the objects of fear and distrust.

There are several reasons for this, but the reasons are all controversial, and your belief depends a great deal on your view about behavior - whether it's caused by nature or nurture, and whether one can modify behavior that has already been in place through late adolescence or social maturity (between 1.5-2 years).

Many bully-type terriers were originally bred to fight other dogs, to bait bulls, or for other "blood" sports. Some breeders have been assiduous in breeding out the tendencies for aggression, but others actually breed for it - and the best way to get an aggressive dog is to breed two aggressive dogs to each other. The reasons for breeding aggression are varied - some people want their dogs to fight other dogs, some to guard their property, and some seem to want the "aura" of owning an aggressive dog.

Dogs bred as pets for several generations tend to lose the behavior patterns that are the most problematic. Unfortunately, they are still feared because of their looks, and because many - if not most - bully dogs still retain some of their undesirable behavior patterns.

Bully breeds have several desirable characteristics that build breed loyalty in their owners or guardians, such as:
extreme loyalty
affection to their owners
ease of training

Undesirable and/or anti-social behavior patterns include:
The tendency to chase things that move (animals, people, etc)
The ability and tendency to bite and hold on
The tendency to try and dominate other animals or people by body slamming, mounting and otherwise physically controlling them.
Uncontrollable arousal or excitement

The first two undesirable characteristics can be classified as "predatory." All dogs have some of this - some breeds more than others. But, in most breeds and breed types, the behaviors are inhibited. For instance, many dogs will chase runners or bicyclists, but they are unlikely to do anything if they catch up - and are easily trained out of the behavior. Truly predatory dogs go through a fairly set series of behaviors that can end up in a serious bite or worse. These dogs are not angry or vicious. Instead, they are obeying an instinct that was essential for hunting. Thus, they are not likely to give any warning and the chase can be amazingly fast. Sometimes they stalk before they chase; other times they don't. A dog that bites out of fear or anger will virtually always warn its victim - it normally has no desire to bite, it just wants to be left alone.

Predatory attacks are very common in the bully breeds - predation is the main drive used in dog fighting, and it can be lethal.

The third undesirable characteristic of these breeds is "dominating" or "bully" behavior. This stems from confidence. Oftentimes, confident puppies will bully their siblings, and may take away resources (food or toys). They will do the same to members of their own human families. And, if they're successful when they're puppies, they tend to repeat the behaviors when they are grown.

The fourth undesirable characteristic - arousal or excitement - is actually the most problematic. Many bully dogs cannot seem to calm themselves down once they get excited. And once they get excited all their behaviors are exacerbated. Thus, if a dog is over-confident and has a tendency to body slam or mount, he or she will really crash into the other dog or person when he's aroused, sometimes inadvertently causing injury. He may begin to play-bite, and then bite harder and harder and harder. When you try to stop the behavior, the dog often becomes even more "aggressive." In this way, play can turn into aggression fairly quickly. Research on the brain has shown that excited play has exactly the same chemistry as extreme anger. This allows a play behavior to switch quickly into aggression. And, once the dog has become aggressive a few times, the switch is much easier.

Our test includes scenarios that allow each of these behaviors to be manifested if they are there. We do not just watch the animals, nor do we try to make them aggressive. What we do is try to anticipate and replicate behavior that occurs in a normal home.

We observe the dog for a substantial amount of time to see whether he is attentive or affectionate toward us. We then show the dog affection (petting), to see if he comes back for more. We then do something the dog is not likely to like but that will not hurt (examining the teeth and hugging). We give the dog objects or food and then ask for it back, or we drop something and then attempt to take it. And we play - we see if the dog retrieves and if he gives up play objects readily when he's excited. We also run around, much as a child would, to see if the dog chases and what he does when he catches up. We then wait to see how long it takes for the dog to cam down, to relax. Lastly, we introduce the dog to one or two other dogs, to see whether he is social to them.

We try to see the whole dog, as much as possible, for the safety and well being of our clients. We do not expect perfection, and will "grade" a dog for different levels of potential owners. There are some behaviors that are unacceptable - mostly aggression. If the dog is aggressive towards people in any way, he is not recommended for adoption. In addition, dog to dog aggression is a big mark against the dog as - especially in this country - people want their dogs to lay well with others.

Pit bulls and other bully breeds fail most often in the areas of arousal and dog-to-dog aggression.

Each and every dog is tested on his own merits. We have and do put pit bulls up for adoption, after a knowledgeable person has fostered him or her for three weeks. We are cognizant of the power of this type of dog - plus many other big dogs - and would rather err on the side of caution than allow a possibly dangers dog into our neighborhoods.

Trish King

Director, Behavior & Training Dept. Marin Humane Society


Anonymous said...

"Some breeders have been assiduous in breeding out the tendencies for aggression"

There is not one goddamned pit bull breeder that does this, and that includes the AKC breeders who breed Staffordshire Terriers for fighting characteristics, no matter what "show dog" lies these women come up with to hide their activities.

Without breeding for fighting characteristics and behavior, there is NO PIT BULL.

The entire reason that pit bulls were selectively bred by man (and STILL ARE), the entire reason that pit bulls EXIST as breeds, is for fighting dog characteristics.

The characteristics that mean that people and other animals die and get torn up.

Pit bulls are "working dogs" and bred to be such- their work is to fight, kill, maximize damage, high prey drive, fight to the death, low pain threshold, etc.

Without these breed characteristics, you are breeding labs or something entirely different from a pit bull.

There is NO SUCH THING as a pit bull that is not genetically linked to aggression. It doesn't exist.

It is NOT POSSIBLE for any breeder of pit bulls to overcome the work of pit bull breeders that took hundreds of years to carefully and selectively create the canine gladiator that pit bulls still are.

And that is NOT a pet, and does not interact well with modern society in any form.

Anonymous said...

I have witnessed this first hand, when a very uneducated nutter would walk his dog and it would strain at the leash and stare at anything it passed. It made my dogs so uncomfortable, it was so obvious that the pit was aggressive. And yet the nutter was praising the dog as it was being quiet and therefore in his mind a well-bahaved, non-aggressive, non-threatening dog. So this man was essentially encouraging aggressive behavior towards other dogs from his pit bull, and had no idea why the neighbrhood was so anti-pit, biased against his dog for no reason, and ignorant about pit bulls that there were frequent calls to Animal Control. If pit bull breeders and rescues did a proper job and actually educated pit bull owners, there wouldn't be men like this nutter. But since they don't, they have created dangerous dogs, pissed off pit owners, and frightened neighborhoods.

Resolution: the dog was eventually poisoned by someone. This is another side effect of pit bull rescue that does not educate owners: it kills pit bulls one way or another and reduces the chance that anyone else in that neighborhood with half a brain would ever adopt a pit bull.

Anonymous said...

Yes, quite often these dogs are poisoned, shot, or deliberately run over by people in neighborhoods tired of dealing with their owners' shit. When you force human beings to choose between their own safety or respecting the "right" of somebody to own a vicious dog, they will choose their own safety every time. Pit bull regulations or outright bans would cut down on these incidents of forcing people to resort to illegal behavior just to insure they can take out their trash or pick up their mail.

Anonymous said...

"Some breeders have been assiduous in breeding out the tendencies for aggression"

"There is not one goddamned pit bull breeder that does this,"

There are some who THINK they do. One such breeder comes to mind, who advertised their attention to matters of temperament to breed safe, kid friendly dogs. That was the American Bulldog breeder whose own daughter was killed by her "safe, kid friendly" dogs.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

are you referring to lori haaker in flroida?

Turkey said...

It would be impossible for pit bull breeders to breed a non-aggressive pit bull without introducing another breed, and therefore new genetics, into the mix. When breeds of dog are created, what occurs is the process of gene saturation - all wiggle room in genetic diversity is removed in favor of a predictable set of traits. Breed two dogs with the genetics to fight and you will get more dogs with the genetics to fight. No pit bull exist that does not have the genetics to fight, those genes can only be found in other breeds. So the only way to improve pit bulls and breed aggression out of them is to destroy the line and breed in other breeds. No nutter is going to go for that. So pit bulls will never be anything different than what they currently are.

Some good links on behavioral genetics:

Anonymous said...

"are you referring to lori haaker in flroida?"

Yes, I believe that's the one I’m thinking of – although it is becoming easier to lose track of them all. Of course, one could argue a difference between truly believing they're breeding safe dogs and mere marketing claims, but the point should be taken from that example – another death is substantial proof of failure. Trish King shouldn't buy into the claims of breeders, and breeders are the only ones with motivation to make these claims. I, for one, have zero interest in being a “test subject” as these breeders go about the business of proving their failure in the real world.

Anonymous said...

If anyone has seen the recent NOVA special on dogs, you may remember the results of the famous Russian Fox experiments, which began in the 1950's. A researcher began an experiment with foxes on a fur farm, to try to create tamer, friendlier foxes which would be easier to handle, with hopes of gaining insight into the domestication of dogs. He began simply placing his gloved hand in a cage, and selecting the foxes that did not attack, or showed mild curiosity, for breeding. He continued to selectively breed only the tamest foxes from each breeding.

The surprise came when the foxes actually started changing appearances.....they developed white fur, their tales began to curl, many developed floppy ears. Breeding for tameness alone caused physical changes in the started to become something different.

The same thing would happen to pit bulls if breeders were to select for gentlness and tameness....the phenotype of the bull dog would start to unravel. Remember, the pit bull wasn't bred for his appearence, he was bred for his working ability in the pit. And form follows function. Thinking you can get a Golden Retrievers temperament in the body of a pit bull is magical thinking on the part of pit bull fans who want to "save" the breed.

Anonymous said...

Should you "save" a breed that should have never been created?...

The Bull Baiters of England had no problem allowing original Bulldogs dogs when to go extinct bull baiting became illegal...Why should Pit Bull breeding continue?!?

Anonymous said...

Meet the Great John R. Colby aka "The Foundation of the APBT" who produced over 5000 dogs:

Bull Terrier Kills Child

Grabs Him by Throat at Newburyport.
Bert Leadbetter, 2 Years Old, of Lynn on Visit.
Uncle John P. Colby Owner of the Dog

NEWBURYPORT, Feb 2, 1909 -- Bert, the 2-year-old son of Mr and Mrs Walter Leadbetter of Lynn, was killed this afternoon by a fighting bull terrier, owned by his uncle, John P. Colby, at 36 Franklin st.
Mrs Leadbetter and her son had come here to visit her brother, who is a dog fancier. The little fellow wandered into the yard where the kennels are.
The dog sprang at the child's neck and growling ferociously shook him like a rag. Then the savage animal, dropping its prey, snapped at other portions of the body, inflicting a number of wounds.
Mr Colby ran out, drove the dog away and bore the child into the house. He was faintly breathing, but quickly all signs of life disappeared. Medical Examiner Hurd, who was called, found that the backbone and spine had been broken at the base of the brain. The other wounds, while serious, were not necessarily fatal.
The mother was prostrated. Mr Leadbetter was hastily summoned from Lynn.
Mr Colby was very secretive about the affair and declined to give out any details. The police were not notified. Patrolman Hayes, whose beat is at the south end, heard of the death and reported it to the marshal, who ordered an investigation. The patrolman was finally able to secure the particulars.
No action has been taken relative to the dog. Mr Colby told the medical examiner that his own child3 had played about the kennels and had never been molested

CKing said...

Trish King's videos and her handout are FANTASTIC. I learned a lot from both - its amazing that the tactic of forcing eye contact from the other dog is an ingrained behavior in pits. creepy. I know my dogs react to those pulling staring pits on leashes.

I especially liked this line:
These dogs are not angry or vicious. Instead, they are obeying an instinct that was essential for hunting.

A lot of nutters say the dog wasn't vicious, it was playing, or they've never acted aggressive. These dogs often aren't vicious or angry when they attack. Sometimes they look joyful. Just like a setter on a scent is joyful. They are fulfilling an innate, genetically determined, biological drive.

That joy is what that puke nutter saw when he said his dogs were just playing when they did 1100 dollars of physical damage to a dog and a person.

Did you notice her mention, in the handout, about specific behavior - dominating by slamming, mounting or otherwise physically controlling people.

Remember how Parrot's idea of greeting was slamming into you? and he was like a bull in a china shop? Cute.

That is dominating behavior that nutter owner, shelter and foster idiots didn't see for what it was.

This is a fantastic topic and discussion and incredibly important right now.

The HSUS is saying pits weren't bred to fight, and Jane Berkey of AFF is saying all dogs are individuals and denying that aggressive temperament and behavior are characteristic of the pit bull type.

I've recently read in article comments that behavior can't be inherited and that one researcher determined that while he could not breed mice to be more aggressive, he could "teach" it. This is absolute bullshit, of course, but it seems that nutters are currently pushing on the "we don't believe in genetics" part of the "its all how you raise them" bullshit.

The comments here are right on, and I'm going to look at Turkey's links.

Anonymous said...

"Why should Pit Bull breeding continue?!?"

And the straight and honest answer to that from the pit bull lobby, although they will never admit it, is that pit bulls are CASH in dog form, whether it is to breeders, dog fighters, AKC, UKC, or the "rescue" advocates that now pull a salary, living expenses, and benefits from the "donations" they shill for from the gullible.

The pit bull industry is big, untaxed cash. Pit bulls are a cash crop.

And like that cash crop known as tobacco (although even the tobacco industry paid taxes, which the pit bull industry DOESN'T) the pit bull industry will fabricate any kind of lie imaginable to try to save that cash crop from regulation.

It is not just a coincidence that the breeder and No Kill pit bull industry uses Rick Berman of Center for Consumer Freedom, tobacco lobbyist, as their lobbyist.

Anonymous said...

Another behavior that pit nutters constantly rave about is how their dogs just want to be "lap dogs". "Oh, if you're sitting down, he just wants to be right on top of you." No shit, Sherlock. That's also dominance behavior, and it's anything but cute or sweet.

CKing said...

These rescues get money get from more than just the cult of pit bull rescue angels.

Unlike most others arrested for animal abuse - hoarders and even puppy millers, dogfighters are part of what is guessed is a 500 million dollar industry. They have money.

They agree to pay "restitution" money to reduce their jail sentence. David Tant reportedly paid 100,000 in exchange for a 30 yr sentence instead of a 40 year sentence. And, he supposedly had already paid 80,000 for the keep of his dogs which were ultimately euthanized anyway.

The Vick case set a precedent of saving the dogs, and letting that restitution money follow the dogs. Suddenly, pit bull rescues had access to the gambling assets of the dogfighters.

This is now becoming SOP for pit bull rescues.

Bad Rap's Donna just cried crocodile tears on her blog about the light sentence Jerry Southern got for massive dog abuse discovered in 2008. He was not convicted of dog fighting. He also paid "restitution" in exchange for 90 day sentence, and Bad Rap gets to take home to California some of that money. She's taking that money away from a community that had no animal shelter, and the money goes to California rather than staying in the community to perhaps establish one. (bad rap blog Friday, August 27, 2010)

These fighting dogs are now cash cows. They've identified a potentially HUGE money stream if only they can convince enough people to adopt a bred and tried killer into their home.
The face of pit bull adoptions is in the midst of changing. They have always denied genetics, and put all their faith in "its how you raise them." Now, it doesn't even matter if the dogs were raised as pit fighting dogs. They are now into magical rehabilitation. They will adopt out with the warning - this should be an only dog and no kids. I'm sure your dog owning, child parenting neighbors will be fine with that.

Anonymous said...

I think this just might be the first pit nutter to admit that their dogs are in fact instigating these "scuffles".

Nice to see one of these dog people openly express genuine concern for "our" dogs.

anonymouse said...

Anonymous said...

Another behavior that pit nutters constantly rave about is how their dogs just want to be "lap dogs". "Oh, if you're sitting down, he just wants to be right on top of you." No shit, Sherlock. That's also dominance behavior, and it's anything but cute or sweet.

This is a brilliant observation. Has it been entered into the Maul Talk Manual? If not, it really needs to be there, because you really do hear the phrase "lap dog" an awful lot by the nutters in reference to their pibbles.

P.S: If you're taking submissions for the Maul Talk Manual, our favorite word SOMEHOW deserves a mention as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm new here! Ok, that's sort of a lie: I've actually been keeping an eye on this blog for the past few years. I'll call myself Blue. This blog is incredibly informative.

The physical dominance thing is interesting. When I was practicing to become a groomer, they get you to spend some time with dogs in the day care area to get used to them (it was a grooming place and also a day care in one, below being the day care). A few times, a pit bull there would suddenly put her mouth on me and paw (I knew she wanted to play, but it was rather startling). That wasn't so bad though.

Once she was above in the grooming area. She started jumping on me and was constantly putting her mouth on me. I didn't want to play and was trying to make that clear by backing away, but she didn't stop, and actually ended up pushing me down to the floor and had her mouth on my arm (constantly had her mouth on me and some pressure on it). She wasn't too rough (too rough by normal standards though!) and was pretty gentle as far as freaking APBT's are concerned, but geez...normal dogs NEVER get worked up so quickly like that! They try to get you interested and might paw a bit, but she was all over me so fast, and like I said, used her mouth too much. It was actually rather scary and at the time I wasn't exactly sure what side I was on concerning pit bulls. Dogs getting you to play is usually cute or funny (sometimes annoying), but not scary!

So, while I was never technically attacked by one, I've seen how pushy they can get. I actually did kind of like that dog (she was a wonderful dog to practice bathing on), but...she was a pit, sadly. You can never truly trust them. It sucks but that's the breaks.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

welcome blue and thank you for that insightful comment. i hope i see more of them.

actually, i hope i get more blog posts out there too. i have been busy for the last couple of years.

Bailey said...

It's actually scary how many people think bully breeds communicate just like normal dogs. They are far too intense with everything and should never be around other animals (Except maybe other bully breeds. No problem with them mauling their own kind:)

Sarah said...

I guess this is a re-post, since the Parrot attack (had to write it that way) was a few years ago. But I had to comment on the Trisha King videos. I agree it's nice to see a few old-timers holding onto the reality of breed differences (I'm so old I can remember when people were advised to choose a dog based on generalities like, gasp, breed!) But King's comments on the video showing the pit cutting off her shepherd and then lunging for his neck before being pulled quickly back were disgraceful. She cautiously, diplomatically (ie, lying to appease) says the pit's a "fine dog" but just isn't right for this family that wants a dog who can meet other dogs. Who DOESN'T want a dog who can meet other dogs without trying to start WWIII? Where exactly is this wilderness fastness where all these dogs who don't like men, don't like children, don't like cats, don't like dogs, and really need a 6-sided kennel with a containment system out of Jurassic Park to be secured? Ba

Anonymous said...


I've watched the video several times, and it angered me how dismissive Trisha was! You summed it up so well, as I have always wondered what part of the planet does a potentially murderous pit bull belong?


Anon said...

"Should pit-bull breeding continue?"
No. There's nothing pit bulls do that several other breeds don't do better, except activities which are no longer required, illegal and considered morally repugnant in civilized society-grip animals or fight other dogs. The breed clubs already see the writing on the wall and want to convince the public that these dogs can transition from working dogs to pets, however they have been failing this task for a hundred years or more!

P V Dzerzhinskiy said...

This was an especially interesting program because they were selecting foxes based on their friendliness toward humans, and the change in appearance was a real surprise. It is still somrwhat of a challenge to some who believed that physical appearance and temperament or personality characteristics have no connection. Apparently, there is some kind of correlation and shared genetic expression.

There were some really thoughtful comments in regard to the troubling practices that appear to promote the breed yet seem to ensure its eventual destruction. We can no longer ignore the reality.

It makes as much sense to breed killer dogs and pass them off as perfect pets as it does to turn men into gladiators and then limit them to watching children at a daycare.

Anonymous said...

My dog is terrified of bully breeds, even the "friendly" ones. Their body Language is just wrong. She's always happy to greet normal dogs but shies away from bully types. I always thought she could somehow sense there was something wrong with pits - but now I can see exactly what it is that puts her off t h email. Thanks for posting the visa - they were informative :)

Anonymous said...

Stupid phone autocorrect - "t h email" should be "them".

Anonymous said...

And "visa" should be "videos" - I should stop commenting with my phone... -_-

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i'm not a fan of auto correct either. the only advantage is it automatically capitalizes the first word.