Megan Vandeberghe ‘16- From the tip of the tail to the cold, wet nose, a growing number of dog breeds spreads across the globe to fit each human being like the missing piece of a puzzle. Large or small; black, brown, grey, or spotted; furry companions fit the bill for everything from watchdog to dress-up doll. But what about “the vicious, bloodthirsty beast?”

Those sparkling, white teeth could easily rip through flesh and bone with the lock of its jaw, but I stand to affirm that bad dogs are not only scarce, but a myth altogether.

How often do you hear about a dangerous eight week old puppy? Why is it that puppies are perfectly harmless, but grown dogs are a hazard? This is because dogs’ behaviors are taught from the first moment they’re able to walk, just like that of a child.

“When dogs feel defensive they’ll be more aggressive,” Skylar Baysa ‘16 said. “My cousin got a dog bite when he was playing outside and hit a ball over the neighbor’s fence. The dog got protective of his property, so he bit my cousin. As a result, the dog was put down.  But the thing is, the dog being defensive wasn’t the issue. He shouldn’t have been put down, he should have just been trained better.”

Aggressive behavior in a dog is present when proper training is absent. Biting specifically tends to occur when either fear or protective and territorial instincts kick in, or if the animal is exposed to a stressful situation. The dog isn’t being mean, they’re just acting upon their natural born senses. The best way to handle this type of situation is to remove yourself from the area as calmly yet quickly as possible to avoid any further dangerous behaviors. Contacting animal control isn’t always needed, but if you feel it is necessary in the situation it may be a good idea.

Now, I’m not exactly claiming to be the most credible source in the world, but I’ve been the owner to almost ten dogs in my lifetime, and have spoken with personal trainers and dog behavior specialists before. If you begin noticing aggressive behavior in your dog, please contact a professional trainer.

“I feel like most people provoke the dog or it’s the owner’s fault for not properly training their pet,” Cole Rapp ‘16 said. “Normal dogs that are raised in good care and are not provoked will not bite.”

The point I’d like to make is that just because a dog is showing aggressive behavior doesn’t mean that it should be destroyed. Dogs make the best of companions if properly cared for and trained. Mean dogs don’t exist; only uneducated humans who disciplined them improperly, or didn’t train them at all for that matter.

“I knew some people who lived a few doors down and left their dog outside all day long, so my family and I would let her wander over to my house and we would play with her all the time,” Joey Jarmoluk ‘15 said. “It made me mad that someone would adopt a dog and not take time to take care of it. I felt sad for the animal because there’s nothing the dog did wrong.”

So the next time you’re wondering who the real problem is, consider blaming your training skills instead of your pup. Try another method and don’t give up. After all, would you destroy a misbehaving human as well?

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