Hi all. I was having a discussion on another board about the "Breed banning" that seems to be happening more frequently these days. This pertains primarily to "fighting" breeds such as pit bulls, rottweilers, etc. Some cities are enacting city wide bans of these breeds. My stance has always been that the owners are the problem....not the dogs. However, another bird dog owner posted something that made me reconsider my position. I felt that it was very well stated, and seems to prove a very stong case for breed banning. What do you all think?
I read and hear this sort of thing frequently. The position is that no breed should be banned – the owners are the problems and not the dogs themselves. Invariably someone has (or knows someone who has) one of the banned breeds and touts that it is the most wonderful, gentle dog, would never harm anyone, yaddadda.
My position may be heresy, but I spend a good bit of my time working with dogs - I am a bird hunting guide. Sure, it is true beyond doubt that nearly all of the dog problems you see are really handler/owner problems. I am constantly annoyed that I must keep my dogs on lead (they handle better off-lead) in campgrounds because there are too many irresponsible owners who have caused too many problems – makes me avoid campgrounds whenever I can. BUT (and this is a very important “but”), dogs have been carefully bred over many centuries to serve certain purposes and that breeding cannot be removed from a dog.
At one time, most dogs were working dogs as well as companions - now there are very few real working dogs doing what they were bred to do – most dogs are just companions or pets. Never forget that your pet was “designed” to do certain things and deep down inside it is still very much “wired” for those tasks.
My dogs are real working dogs – they hunt upland game birds all over the country - as well as being devoted loving pets. They are bred to be “versatile” hunting dogs – meaning that they are bred to point birds, retrieve downed game from land and water, and to find and quickly dispatch furred varmints for the gamekeeper. Yes, they can be taught that certain animals or even birds are part of the “pack” and are not to be harmed. For example, my daughter once brought a parakeet to a house full of birddogs and they ignored it once I made it clear that the bird was strictly off-limits. The dogs and I have a wonderful pet cat – and we all curl up and sleep together.
However, their breeding means that their hard-wired default setting is to instantly kill any rabbit, cat, raccoon, groundhog, fox or whatever that has not been declared off-limits. I don’t let them do this, but if I don’t stop them, that WILL happen.
I firmly believe dogs that were bred over the centuries for fighting, protection and the like are hard-wired for those tasks even though their only job in today’s world is to be a loving pet. A lapse by the owner, or just the right situation or series of events can trigger the breeding that cannot be removed and set the dog to doing just what it was bred do – kill another dog, incapacitate or kill a human “enemy” or whatever.
Therefore, I am careful, both personally and with my dogs, when around dogs that were bred to fight, protect, etc, not to trigger them to do what they were bred to do. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be loving, devoted pets – all dogs can be that – but it does mean there is always an element of risk – kinda like keeping a loaded, cocked gun on the table at all times in a house full of children. 99.9% of the time everything will be OK, but there is a chance that it will “go off” at some point, especially with an incompetent owner or a child in the picture (kids often don’t know how to relate to dogs and can trigger an in-bred response from a dog).
Bottom line: As much as I love dogs, I’m not so sure I disagree with those who would ban certain breeds of dogs from areas, like campgrounds, urban parks, etc, that are crowded with all sorts of people, especially children.