Friday, October 22, 2010


Are you like me that sometimes you’re just amazed at how some dogs that have been terribly abused can still lick the hand of his abuser? Or take this same abused dog and put him with another owner and he loves him unconditionally? Are you amazed at how you can yell at a dog after having a bad day and if you look in his direction he’ll gladly come to you and lay some affection on you? Then there are other dogs if you gave them the same abusive treatment, they are never the same again. They may fear man for the rest of their live. They may shake and run in a corner and if you were to go over to him to pet him, he may relieve himself on your shoe. So what makes some dogs recover and lead a healthy, happy life whereas others end up being skittish and fearful of man for the rest of his life?

I believe it’s all about the dog’s nervous system. I believe that some dogs are more sensitive than other dogs. They may have both been born with a lovely and trustful nature, but one’s nervous system may be more delicate then his litter mates. Is this genetic? Can a puppy that you bred be born with a good temperament and you sell him and his new owners are calling you after a couple of weeks telling you that the puppy has a bad temperament? How did this happy, friendly, out going puppy become a shaking, fearful wimp?

I had a five week old puppy that was in a big medical facility having procedures and tests done on her. When I left her there and was waiting for further instructions, I heard this most pitiful scream that made me jump out of my seat. I asked the girl at the desk was that my puppy? She said yes she was screaming because they were trying to get a tube down her throat. She was there for three days. She went in a happy, “wagging her tail” little bundle of fur. She came out never trusting strangers again. From then on in, every stranger she met, she greeted with a growl!

This can happen with an older youngster as well. I have a friend who once told me that she had a young male that she raised that had a good temperament. He never showed any signs of having a bad disposition. The dog was a show quality animal so she sent him to a well known trainer to prepare him for the show ring. She told me when she got him back, he was a different dog. Her once friendly happy dog no longer could be shown. He became a spook and backed away from the judge rather than standing confidently for his examination. How could this be?

So what makes a good dog go bad? Perhaps some dogs can be rough housed and have it never affect them. Their nerves are steady and nothing seems to bother them. On the other hand some dogs don’t take to being overly handled. They are truly aloof and if they allow you to pet them a couple of times then that’s enough for them. These are not the type of dogs that like anything forced on them.

Just like humans, some of us can tolerate more stress than others. Some people you could drop a bomb in front of them and maybe you’d get a yawn out of them. Others all the way on the other side of the nervous system spectrum would be put in the mental institution. That’s why some people end up with all sorts of nervous conditions due to stress and a sensitive nature. This is when ulcers show their ugly little heads, spastic colons, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, etc. It’s not any different with the dog. I wonder why we expect so much more from them then we expect of ourselves! If the dog has been traumatized, why do we expect them to act like nothing ever happened to them?

I don’t have the answer why some dogs will remain friendly with people after they have been abused and others are never the same again. We can blame or credit it to genetics, but most dogs in a shelter environment are mixed breeds. So if one of your dogs was abused and he had good temperament, would you expect him to bounce back and be trustful and friendly with people once again? Is it reasonable to think this way?

From the book: "SILENT VICTIMS: RECOGNIZING AND STOPPING ABUSE OF THE FAMILY PET" - Silent Victims offers students, professionals, and laypersons an overview of the most critical scientific and anecdotal findings about the antecedents and consequences of animal cruelty. The research presented includes notable studies on the factors associated with animal abuse, including the perpetrators, abusive environments. The book also offers readers an insider's look at animal cruelty; real life tales weave theories and research findings with applied fieldwork, and examine commonly used strategies and techniques for recognizing and addressing animal abuse cases.

My rating: Finding the best homes for our puppies and dogs: (4)

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