Dog attacks are not pretty and they are definitely no laughing matter. When dogs attack people it can lead to serious injury or even death. Fatal dog attacks are rare but they do occur and even a simple dog bite can be very painful and cause injury. It is estimated that 2% of the U.S. population are bitten by dogs each year. These dog attacks are often the result of the close proximity of dogs to people in every day life.
So, why do dogs attack people?
There are really only four main reasons why dogs attack humans:
1) Protecting their owners or property – Most dogs will instinctively protect their territory. This is usually done by simply barking, but some dogs will actually attack someone who invades their territory. Any dog, big or small, may attack to protect their territory. However this is most common with certain breeds that have been bred and used as guard dogs or attack dogs for many years.
2) They are not properly socialized – All dogs need to be socialized and learn how to act around humans. Dogs that have had very little or no human contact are much more likely to attack a person that gets close to them.
3) Trained to attack by bad owners – There are lots of crazy people out there who actually train their dogs to attack any and all people. This is different from a properly trained guard dog. These dogs have been raised to be mean and don’t differentiate from a friend or an intruder.
4) Protecting themselves – Dogs can and will protect themselves if they deem it necessary.
People who are uneducated about dogs often blame dog attacks on certain breeds of dogs but the truth is that most dog attacks are due primarily to the actions or inactions of the dogs’ owners. Or they are because the dog was protecting its home, family, or itself.
Dogs are not inherently mean or prone to attacking humans. Some dog breeds are better for protection and guard work but even those breeds aren’t going to attack humans for no reason. There is no such thing as a “mean” or “bad” breed of dog and no dog is born aggressive. Furthermore, no dog breed is more prone to attack people than any other breed.
Most of the time dog attacks are the result of human behaviors, especially by people who are unfamiliar with dogs (often children). Dogs usually don’t respond to these behaviors with aggression but sometimes they will, and certain dogs will do it more than other dogs of the same or different breed.
These human behaviors include:
* Challenging the dog for food – Removing food from a dog or getting between a dog and its food, even when it’s an accident, may trigger aggressive behavior in some dogs.
* Attacking a dog, its family or companions – Dogs will often instinctively defend themselves from an attack or perceived attack. They may also defend those they consider their pack, which can be their human family or dogs and other animals they live with.
They may also be triggered by behaviors that are perceived as an attack. Examples of this would be a sudden and unexpected approach or touch by a stranger, inadvertently stepping on the dog or part of its body, or startling a sleeping dog unexpectedly.
* Invading its territory – Many dogs will fiercely defend their territory, which usually includes their house or yard and other places belonging to their family or areas that the dog thinks of as being theirs. This is especially true for breeds that are typically used as guard dogs.
It should be noted that the territory a dog recognizes as its own may not be the actual property lines that its owner and the legal authorities recognize, such as the neighbor’s yard or a place that the dog visits often.
* Failure to recognize fear – Dogs that are afraid or fearful of something or someone may turn and defend themselves against perceived threat, just as humans do. People who don’t have much experience with dogs will usually not recognize the signs of fear so they approach and trigger an aggressive reaction.
* Getting between a dog fight – A human stepping in between two dogs that are in a fight may be badly bitten. It is not the intent of the dog to attack the person but in the heat of the moment it often happens.
* Showing threatening body language – Staring directly into a dog’s eyes or a person the dog doesn’t know getting very close to their face may be seen as a challenge or threat. Looking directly into a dog’s eyes is most dangerous when on the same visual level as the dog or when the human is a stranger to the dog.
* Prey behaviors – Dogs have many predatory instincts that are imbedded in them, including the chasing of prey. Running away from a dog or behaving in a way that shows weakness can cause a dog to chase you or get overly excited and attack.
* Intruders – A trained guard dog or attack dog will most likely attack or act aggressively towards an intruder without warning.
Remember that any dog can attack unexpectedly given a certain situation. There is no such thing as a certain breed of dog that will attack or not attack humans. Most dogs will never hurt anyone, but it can happen and knowing some reasons why dogs typically attack and warning signs of it can save you from being injured. Hopefully this post has answered your question as to why dogs attack people and will help prevent you or someone you know from being attacked by a dog out of ignorance or neglect.
One final thing I want to stress… Don’t believe all the crap you hear about Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds (or any other dog breed) being vicious or dangerous. It’s NOT true! There is no such thing as a vicious or dangerous breed of dog. It’s all a bunch of media hype and myths, and any dog expert can attest to that. Any dog, of any breed, at any time, in any place can attack a human for many reasons, and it has nothing to do with what type of breed they are. That is a fact.
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The Pit Bull is the most misunderstood dog breed in the world. There are so many myths about this dog and it’s really quite ridiculous. Of all the dog breeds out there, the Pit Bull is one of my favorites. I am not alone on that either because they are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are also one of the most hated dog breeds by people who are not educated about dogs or people who like to believe everything they hear without checking the facts first.
I also want to point out that there really is no such thing as a “Pit Bull” dog breed. There are American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Bulldogs that are commonly lumped together as Pit Bulls. Even the Bull Terrier, Presa Canario, Argentine Dogo, Boxer and several other dog breeds are often called Pit Bulls by the media or people who don’t know any better.
While many of those breeds do have similar characteristics they are not the same type of dog and do have lots of differences. However, for the purpose of this post I will use the generic “Pit Bull” term to refer to these dog breeds.
Here are 10 myths about pit bulls and the facts behind them:
1) Pit Bull Jaws Can Lock
This is completely false. Expert examination has shown that the jaws of pit bulls do NOT lock and they are structurally and functionally the same as every other dog breed.
2) Pit Bulls Don’t Feel Pain
All dog breeds have the same nervous system and do feel pain, including pit bulls. In the early years of developing the breed pit bulls were bred to tolerate pain while continuing to complete whatever task was at hand. They definitely do feel pain but sometimes they can handle it better than other breeds.
3) Pit Bulls Attack People More Than Other Breeds
It is very difficult to get an accurate count in dog bite statistics because most of the time they are not reported and if they are reported it is often not known what the breed of dog is. However, the statistics that are available do not show pit bulls as most likely to bite.
In fact, when tests were conducted by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), Pit Bulls received a passing score better than some breeds who are considered nice dogs, such as Beagles and Golden Retrievers!
Also, as stated above, there are several dog breeds commonly referred to as pit bulls. So, based on that alone, they are much more likely to be blamed for an attack than other breeds because the number of dogs called pit bulls is skewed far higher than the actual number of American Pit Bulls Terriers there really are.
4) Pit Bulls are Always Fighting
Now this is just plain stupid!
Have you ever seen a pit bull in person before? I bet you have.
Have you ever seen a pit bull in a fight in person before? I bet you have NOT!
It’s true that pit bulls are commonly used in illegal dog fighting today. However, every breed of dog is commonly used for something but that doesn’t mean they are always doing it. Labrador Retrievers were bred for hunting and are still used as hunting dogs today, but that doesn’t mean only hunters own them and they are always hunting. You see Lab’s every day that have never hunted a day in their life and never will.
5) Pit Bulls are Naturally Mean
Any dog expert will tell you that pit bulls are actually one of the nicest and most loyal dog breeds in the world. They are very loving, aim to please, great with kids, and are far from being mean. Every breed of dog can be trained to be mean but none of them are naturally that way, especially pit bulls.
6) Pit Bulls Have the Strongest Bite of all Dog Breeds
There is no known proof that pit bulls can bite harder than other breeds of dog. Dogs bite harder or less hard depending on what situation they are in, so it is very difficult to run tests to determine bite strength. It is a natural assumption that larger dog breeds with bigger jaws have stronger bites. That would mean there are numerous dog breeds that can bite harder than pit bulls.
7) Pit Bull Brains are Always Growing
There are actually people who believe that the brain of pit bulls keeps growing until it is too large and they end up going crazy. Years ago Doberman Pinscher’s had the bad rap that pit bulls have today and this same myth was given to them. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.
8) Pit Bulls are Aggressive Towards People
It is a fact that pit bulls are very non-human-aggressive. They actually don’t even make very good guard dogs, contrary to popular belief. Other than people being afraid of pit bulls based on their image, they are not very suitable for guard work because they simply are not naturally aggressive.
Many top pit bull breeders actually own guard dog breeds such as Rottweilers to protect their pit bulls from being stolen by burglars because they are people lovers and won’t protect themselves.
9) Pit Bulls are Bad with Children
Anyone who has any legitimate knowledge of dog breeds knows that pit bulls are usually great with kids. It is just plain common sense not to leave any dog alone with small children but pit bulls are certainly not bad with children compared to most other dog breeds.
Historically pit bulls have been a favorite companion and friend to children and tend to like the excitement of being with kids. As long as they are socialized and trained properly, pit bulls are the perfect dog breed to withstand the rough play of kids.
10) Pit Bulls are Animal Killers
It’s in the nature of almost every dog breed to chase after other animals, and pit bulls are no different. But there are countless cases that show pit bulls have a low prey drive and can live with cats and other small animals without any problems. I have a pit bull right now living in harmony with two other dogs and three cats. It all comes down to proper socialization and the personality of each individual dog. One dog in a household might hate other animals while another dog of the same breed in the same household wouldn’t hurt a flea.
And some more information about them for you…
Most people that have heard about a pit bull attack or something else bad about them probably aren’t aware of the fact that this breed in particular was specifically and carefully bred to be human friendly. As much or more than any other breed of dog, they were designed to be outgoing and never aggressive towards humans.
The reason for this is because the combat sports (animal to animal) they were bred for also meant that humans needed to be close to them during it, and those people didn’t want to get bitten. Makes sense, right?! Unfortunately, the roots of their history can also often result in them being prone to dog aggression. But they are not naturally aggressive to humans!
The biggest problem nowadays actually are the humans, not the pit bulls themselves. Some people take an incredibly loyal breed and use that loyalty and desire to please, and turn it into something negative. They are taking advantage of a very deeply ingrained and primitive relationship, one of a dog and its master.
Although most dogs aim to please their masters, pit bulls often take it to the next level. Their loyalty is unparalleled and they aim to please unlike any other, but that can be turned into a bad thing by shady people. Most accidents or attacks that involves pit bulls are a direct result of a very irresponsible owner.
You can believe it or not, but those are the facts!
I hope this post has shown you that some things you may have thought about pit bulls are not true, and has also taught you some great things that you didn’t know. Don’t believe everything you hear on the news or from someone telling a story about a friend of a friend of a cousin that was attacked by a pit bull. Most of it is either not true at all or the truth has been severely stretched for dramatic effect.
They really are a great breed. I have owned many dogs of various breeds ranging from small to very large, including a pit bull. I would put the pit bull right up there at #1 or #2 on my list with nothing bad to say about him at all. I am also a dog enthusiast and have always tried to learn everything I can about all dogs. It has been one of my greatest joys since I was a kid. That’s why I started this blog, to pass on my knowledge about dogs to the world. In my studies I have found, without a doubt, that pit bulls are super pets and one of the best dog breeds to own in the entire world.
Also, here are some more facts and myths about Pit Bulls for you: Pit Bulls: True or False?
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