Is it nature, is it nurture?
The debate has raged for millenniums. How much of dog ownership is a result of the way the dog is raised and how much is the environment in which the dog is trained.
Last week I ran into a man who recently adopted a dog and he was so proud of the new dog he had recently adopted. His dog had a great temperament. He was of the opinion that dogs are a product of the person who raised them and that aggressive dogs are a product of aggressive ownership.
While I agree with this notion, for the most part, I feel like it leaves many doors open to talk about.
What about the dogs who are owned by well-meaning, lovely, loving owners? All the owners I help on a daily basis are incredibly loving owners who only want the best for their best friend. Some of these dogs are rescue dogs and others were purchased at a young age from breeders.
If it’s only a question of nurture, then how is it possible that these dogs have the aggression issues that they do?
Some would reason that it’s got to be a forceful hand that made a dog act like this and I would reason the opposite.
Some dogs are more genetically predisposed to aggressive actions. A recent study argues that some dogs have higher levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the same hormone that allows mothers to quickly bond with a new baby, and dogs also access this hormone.
The same study also argues that aggressive dogs and humans have higher levels of a hormone called vasopressin.
So what does this mean for the dog owner struggling with an aggressive dog? Well, your dog may be predisposed to this aggressive behavior because of a deficiency in oxytocin and heightened levels of vasopressin. That said, can these dogs still be turned into good family pets with proper training?
I’ve dedicated my professional career to rehabilitating these troubled dogs and yes it is possible. If you are told that your dog needs to be put to sleep, or needs to be medicated for the rest of his/her’s life, that not likely to be the case. Reach out and ask for help. We’d love to help.