Question-when dogs attack their owners

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by maybe532, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. maybe532

    maybe532 New Member

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    You see it in the media occasionally, dogs that "turn" on their owners. Does anyone know the reasons behind these attacks? I often hear people say it is the breed, that it is a matter of time before they turn on their owners. I know that is totally bogus, it doesn't make any sense. But I would like to know if anyone has any clue as to what makes some dogs attack/kill their owners. It has been bothering me and I can't find any solid information.
    It would be nice to know if it were something as simple as under-socializing, then it could be avoided much easier. If it were something like a mental issue (for lack of a better word, brain not wire right/gotta screw loose) then it seems it is unavoidable. Or if it was because they were abused, taught to be vicious, etc. Or likely, something I am not even thinking of.
    Thanks, I am just trying to gain some insight!
     
  2. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    It could be a medical issue like a brain tumour.
     
  3. InLimbo87

    InLimbo87 New Member

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    See, the hard part behind this question is that there is no defined "right" answer for all of these scenarios. Sometimes its even a culmination of multiple factors, and sometimes we just don't know.

    As Smkie already pointed out, often this can be caused by a health issue such as a brain tumor.

    Other times, it could be considered genetics. Now, I'm not talking "He's a pitbull so he turns and kills people" (insert much sarcasm here). I'm talking dogs passed down genetically the predisposition for aggression, typically through improper or unethical breeding practices.

    This behavior can also be caused from abusive behaviors from the owner (probably the most typical). Most dogs will show a warning prior to biting or attacking, however if the owner has been abusive enough against the warning behavior, it is possible that they would just turn and strike.

    I'm sure there a multitude of other reasons, these are just the ones that came to my mind.
     
  4. sammgirl

    sammgirl ACoops favorite

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    I think that question is wayyyy too complex LOL

    I think you'd have to look at every dog in every situation and I really doubt you could generalize it to just one variable that causes the animals to attack.
     
  5. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    I'd say you listed many reasons this could happen. Abused, 'not wired right', medical issue, the list could go on. I don't think you'll find a 'one size fits all' answer.

    That's like trying to figure out why one person kills another...........the circumstance, situations, and possibilities are endless, LOL
     
  6. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    It would probably depend on what you mean by 'attack'. I tend to think a flat out mauling usually has to do with the dog just not being 'right' in the head. But there are lots and lots of reasons a dog might bite (even rather severely) its owners.
     
  7. maybe532

    maybe532 New Member

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    Well I know there is not one answer, lol. But when you hear it on the news it comes up and people always say it is because they are pits (cane corso, etc). It would be nice to have some solid information so that I can refute these claims. If I were to just say it was because of (whatever) and it was just my theory, well that is no better than the assumption that it is due to their breed.
     
  8. maybe532

    maybe532 New Member

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    Laurelin, yes, I meant when the dogs maul/kill their owners.
     
  9. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    Do you know how often I've been told/heard that the doberman's skull is too small to house it's brain..........there for, when it reaches a certain age/size it goes insane and turns on it's owner? LOL People believe some crazy stuff, hahaha

    There is just no real way for you to have solid information without knowing the dog in question, the circumstances behind the attack, and possibly not even then.
     
  10. TheGoldenRetriever

    TheGoldenRetriever New Member

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    Understandable, but the problem is that each individual case really DOES need to be judged on its own individual circumstances. There is no "one" answer.

    Also unfortunately ... theory often does have to play a part because there's always the possibility that a post-mortem was not done on the animal to find medical problems that may have caused the attack, or at least not one that was complete enough because many medical issues can affect behavior. Many times all they look for is signs of rabies.

    Another possibility necessitating theory is that people involved may not always tell the truth about what happened before the attack ... hiding the truth about the source from which they got the dog, what training methods were used, how the dog was cared for, whether or not they left young children or babies alone with the dog, any provocation that may have occurred, etc., etc.


    ETA: Example of one case where people were lying was one I read about a few years ago. A family dog "suddenly and for no reason" had "turned on" a young child in the household and the child eventually died from the injuries of the attack. Everybody agreed that the dog was awful and had to be put down immediately, the parents insisted the child had not been left alone with the dog and that there was NO provocation for the dog to have done that. On the post-mortem after the dog was euthanized, a sharp pencil stub was found to have been jammed deeply into the dog's ear, and the post-mortem showed it had in fact been shoved into the dog's ear sometime prior to the attack.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  11. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    i think it's probably very rare indeed that a dog will truly "turn without warning". i think what really happens is that warning signs are ignored and ignored and ignored (or punished and punished and punished) and things escalate to the point that they go horribly wrong. this is for a true "family dog" at least. for a dog who is not truly a member of the family (kennelled, penned, chained, fenced in the backyard, whatever), the risks are higher. evenso, your chances of being killed by a dog are miniscule.

    karen delise has some really interesting information on her website here National Canine Research Council and if you can get ahold of her fatal dog attacks book (which i think is out of print), it's fantastic. she looks at a bunch of contributing forces in fatal dog attacks.

    kc dog blog KC DOG BLOG also has a ton of good information on dog attacks. he did a really excellent write up on all the fatal dog attacks from 2009.
     
  12. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    ^^ I think this is a very good point. So many people are total idiots when it comes to reading dog body language. They completely miss HUNDREDS of warning signs. When someone gets mauled, I think a lot of times it was months to years in the coming. Bad bite inhibition combined with suppressing the warning behaviors (like punishing growling).

    Then there are medical issues.

    There have been some cases where owners tried to break up dog fights by themselves, between two large and powerful animals and ended up being badly mauled or killed. Not that the dogs even redirected on them, they just got in the way.

    My cousin was nearly killed by their family dog. The dog was DA, and one day it "just snapped". She had to be airlifted to Seattle and they were barely able to save her eye.

    Then the truth came out. The DA dog had killed their other dog, so her mom's drug dealer boyfriend got a new puppy thinking their first dog would like a puppy better. :rolleyes: He admitted that whenever the previous dogs fought, he would run over and beat the h--- out of them until they stopped. Well, the old family dog started attacking the puppy (surpise!) and so he started beating the snot out of it. My 9 year old cousin was standing nearby, and the dog redirected on her. Not what I would classify as randomly snapping.

    On a happier note, the boyfriend is in jail for a looong time for domestic and drug charges.
     
  13. StillandSilent

    StillandSilent New Member

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    One of the first signs of Neon's brain tumor was when he tried to attack my mother with no warning or provacation. 30 secons prior to the attack, he was laying by her feet, 30 seconds after, he was trying to get in her lap so he could give her kisses.
    Besides that, I have never seen a dog turn on people it trusts with no warning.
     
  14. maybe532

    maybe532 New Member

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    Elegy, thank you so much for that website, I will go check it out.

    I realize that it is difficult to get the truth, especially if the owner dies there is really know way of knowing what happened. It does make sense that if two large, powerful dogs are fighting and the owner was to attempt to step in then they could get seriously injured. I have seen small dogs get into fights and breaking them up is not an easy task.

    I guess the case of an "unprovoked" attack is quite rare and would likely be from a brain issue. Otherwise, whether it be previous abuse that led up to the attack, or like Romy's cousin, being in the wrong place in a bad situation.

    I feel like I can better participate in a discussion regarding dog attacks now (this has come up often enough for this to be a valid concern of mine, lol). Before I just didn't know what to say. I hate contributing to a conversation without at least knowing something about the topic.
     
  15. joce

    joce Active Member

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    There was a recent case here with a lady getting attacked breaking up a fight between her shepherds. News made it sound bad but then again they always do.


    There was another one here where a lady tried to break up her rotts fighting and they attacked her instead. Killed her.

    Thats the most common situation I see. My friends had a golden mix who was just wired goofy and out of no where would attack. They tried for a couple years to fix whatever was wrong and finally put him down.
     
  16. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Don't worry about your dog, you're more likely to be killed by your Significant other out of the blue!

    Anyway, Archie randomly started biting friends that he's known for quite sometime, without any type of warning at all. They weren't bad bites, but nothing to fool around about. He's never had the best threshold anyway. And he was diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Senility. He's on meds now Dont jump on me chazzers, I know what the general opinion would be if I asked.).

    So I second the "bad wiring" and health problem explanations.
     
  17. maybe532

    maybe532 New Member

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    I am in no way worried about my two attacking me, in fact I am more concerned that my house would get broken into and the dogs would either A) run away at any given chance or B) lick the robbers, lol!
     

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