"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 6:  February 13, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Breed Banning Effectiveness
=>  HERO DOG: Nicki the Lion Tamer
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  As I've Matured ...

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

Well, I've had a very exciting week. Everyone told me this is going to be a great year but I didn't realize so many things were going to pull together they way they have.

One of the things I have most wanted to achieve in my professional life, other than fame, fortune and glory, is to make a truly significant contribution to the world of dogs. To give them a "smarter" world that will treat them in a manner they desperately deserve. It now looks as though this may become a reality.

A couple of amazing people in the dog world and I have collaborated to create a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educating the world on the best methods to raise, train, breed, maintain, rescue and shelter man's best friend. We'll be incorporating and submitting our paperwork to the IRS for our nonprofit status in the next few weeks.

Now, I know what you're thinking ... another animal foundation! How wonderful. (sarcastic) That's kind of what we thought as well. We didn't want to be the same old thing in a different wrapper. Why copy an idea that has already been done with minimal results? (No insult intended.) Fortunately, everyone in the group we've established has been thinking outside the box about this idea for many years, and, for some reason, we've been brought together to make it a reality.

We'd truly welcome any ideas you may have for such a program or any assistance you all may feel you can provide. If you have any input, it would be appreciated. We'll also begin fundraising once the legal mumbo-jumbo has been filed for the nonprofit status. We plan to start with raffles and auctions initially. If you have something you'd like to contribute, let me know.

Last week, I addressed the breed banning plans that have been initiated in several cities around the country. As a result, I've received several comments disagreeing with my stance, some of which were rather "ugly." This will be the focus for my article this week.

It might piss some people off and that's okay. I'd been warned my comments might not be popular before last week's newsletter was released. I am sure this week's will too. If that's the case, and I lose some subscribers as a result, oh well. I will at least know I gave those individuals the facts! What they do from there is their decision.

I am not a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, or any other breed advocate. I'm a dog advocate who believes in educating myself with the facts and not media hype. I'm willing to listen to all arguments as long as they can be backed up by scientific study or statistical proof.

Don't come to me with rumors or studies backed by commercial or politically backed contributions and funds. I'll only blow you off. I was born in Missouri, the Show Me State. So, show me.

I don't print BS in this newsletter. If I can't back it up, I don't print it. I've spent many years developing my programs and beliefs. I've been open and listened to ideologies I was sure I wouldn't agree with. The difference is I listened openly and based my conclusions on proof and not on conjecture and hype. If anyone doesn't like that I base my opinions on fact, then I just don't know what to tell them.

Well, I guess I have gone on long enough. Have a great week everyone. I'll keep you all posted on our progress of the foundation as things go on, but keep in mind, this newsletter will always be about training and the welfare of our dogs. I won't shove the foundation down your throat.

I am outta here!



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Just put master-dog-training.com in the Alexa search box. When the site stats come up, look for the link to "Write a Review." Thanks!


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Breed Banning Effectiveness

I hate snakes. I don't like the way they feel. I don't like the way they look. I see absolutely no redeeming quality in these reptiles.

When I was a kid, I wouldn't let my hand hang off the bed just in case one happened to make its way into the house, upstairs and under my bed in an effort to choke me off and swallow me whole. In the days that I hunted and I heard a rattlesnake, I would make a point of shooting it rather than let it go on its way.

Years later, I lived in Chicago and some of my neighbors owned a couple of Boa Constrictors and Pythons. My son loved looking at them, holding and watching them feed. They were in no way aggressive but I wouldn't let them near me personally. I was scared and didn't understand them.

Eventually, I held one. Not because I was suddenly struck with the desire to do so, but because I'm a man and was being dogged to do so. I held the snake and it was quite a unique experience. I won't say I liked it, but I didn't really feel the fear I anticipated.

My fear was based on a lack of knowledge and understanding. I don't know snakes. I'm a dog man. What I do know is the snake I held was okay. He didn't bother me and I didn't bother him. To be honest, if I spent more time around snakes, I would probably like them. (Just don't tell them that.)

I look at the dog banning issue much differently than that experience. I most likely won't get over the fear I have of snakes, but I don't hate them anymore. I guess they are necessary. The thing is, I had to take on that fear and deal with it.

The dog banning issue is one that's filled with all kinds of emotion and feelings. Some people hate certain breeds that others adore. This is fine. I have no problem with this. What does bother me is there are some who use that fear in an attempt to destroy certain breeds. This I find not only ignorant, but sad.

My Experience

Over the years, I've worked with numerous dog breeds: everything from Pit Bulls to Poodles. Some have scared me and some haven't. I cannot think of a breed that makes me fearful. (Dog maybe, but not breed) Not one. Why? Maybe I'm a fool. Maybe I'm making up for my lack vertical stature. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that I fear no one particular breed. Not one.

I do approach every dog differently though. I do this not out of fear but out of correctness. Some dogs I come at as a dominant figure. Some I approach submissively. It all depends on the dog and what I am there to do. If I'm there to eliminate dominance, then I approach as a dominant figure. If I'm there to increase confidence then I come in submissive. Every single dog is different and needs to be treated as such.

I fear no breed and neither should anyone else.

None of this has anything to do with breed banning though. It has to do with proper thinking. This is what I feel is missing in breed banning. The facts are not consistent with media hype. The media hype is just that - hype. If a Pit Bull kills a child, that's news. If a Labrador Retriever does, it isn't. I was told this by a reporter from a local news station here where I live.

This is the very reason I don't support breed banning. The facts don't support the legislation. Let me give you some validatible proof ...


Killer Breeds

Many people think certain breeds are more prone to aggressive behavior. This is true. Some dogs have a higher “prey drive” than others. No denying this. What this means isn't that the breeds with this higher drive are aggressive, just they were originally bred to have a higher drive.

What is not true is that certain breeds are man-eaters. I've seen examples of nearly every breed that are aggressive and passive. I've seen lovers and haters. What makes the difference is the owners and the way they raise their dogs. If I wanted too, I could make any dog a killer.


Some people say that certain breeds have a genetic disposition to be aggressive. This is true. All dogs are genetically predisposed to be aggressive. This is how they survived for thousands of years. However, no breed has a specific genetic code that makes it a killer. This urban legend has been passed around for years by those who fear specific breeds and is based on prejudice and nothing else.

I have spoken to the research department at UC Davis Veterinary Science Center and the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School about this issue. Both told me they know of no such credible study that validates this claim. These are two of the top veterinary science centers in the country. I find them to be much more credible than the Animal Planet Channel.

Shelter/ Rescue Dogs

I love animal shelters and the people that work there. They are, in general, people who love animals and want to make a difference. Unfortunately, many are vastly under paid and under trained.

Many derive their ideologies from their experiences in the shelter and have minimal outside training. They use out dated temperament testing techniques that are by their very nature, ridiculous. They tend to see the worst of the worst and base their opinions on that.

Keep in mind that aggressive dogs that end up in shelters or the pound are, in most cases, the exception rather than the rule. Most are there because their owners have given up on the animal and didn't bother to educate themselves about their dog or seek the assistance of a professional trainer or behavioralist.

Breed Banning Statistics

Several cities around the USA have banned specific breeds they have determined to be dangerous to the health and public safety of their citizens. I have contacted three of these cities and their public affairs representatives. I asked about their cities' dog bite statistics before and after the ban.

What I found was the numbers of dog bites, fatal and non-fatal didn't change. In fact, in one case, non-fatal bites had increased significantly. When I asked if I could quote these individuals about the numbers and statistics, I was told no. You know what though, check the Internet. The proof is all there. They can't hide from the numbers.

Several reputable groups have tracked and studied dog bites and banning. Here are a few:

Center of Disease Control
Humane Society of the United States
Cincinnati Law Review
American Veterinary Medical Association:
    Task Force on Canine Aggression & Human-Canine Interactions
Foundation for Pediatric Studies

Here's a quote from the Cincinnati Law Review

"Statistics did not support the assertion that any one breed was dangerous, ... when legislation is focused on the type of dog it fails, because it is ... unenforceable, confusing, and costly ... focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners."

The Humane Societies Study says:

"Any dog, treated harshly or trained to attack, may bite a person. Any dog can be turned into a dangerous dog. The owner most often is responsible -- not the breed, and not the dog.

An irresponsible owner or dog handler might create a situation that places another person in danger by a dog, without the dog itself being dangerous, as in the case of the Pomeranian that killed the infant (see above).

Any individual dog may be a good, loving pet, even though its breed is considered to be likely to bite. A responsible owner can win the love and respect of a dog, no matter its breed. One cannot look at an individual dog, recognize its breed, and then state whether or not it is going to attack."

I'm not going to sit here and quote every study. They all do, however, state the same thing. It's not the breed - it's the owner. The information can be found online and I'm sure you're all capable of looking it up. I highly recommend going to the Center for Disease Control website. http://www.cdc.gov/

Banning certain breeds simply doesn't work. It doesn't decrease the number of dog bite incidents and has proven itself as effective as putting a band-aid on a tumor. It's based on prejudice, a lack of understanding and human culpability.

The Answer

Forty percent of the homes in the United States have dogs and the numbers are increasing annually. According to the American Dog Training Association, only five percent of these households take their dog for professional training. As a result, I firmly believe we need strong appropriate legislation to be put in place if we are going to stop the dog bite epidemic.

I have no problem with mandatory spay/neuter laws. It's good for the health of your dog and inexpensive. This alone would drastically reduce the number of dog bites that occur each year. (Unneutered males under five years old commit over fifty percent of dog bites.) If someone doesn't want to fix their dog due to plans to breed, then they should be licensed to do so and pay a hefty fee for the privilege.

I support legislation that places stronger penalties and even criminal prosecution of individuals who can't control their dog. If individuals were held responsible for the actions of their dog and knew the penalties were severe, they would get the training they need to control their dog. There's no excuse for an out-of-control dog. Training is relatively inexpensive and if someone can't afford it, maybe, they shouldn't have a dog.

I also support criminal prosecution of individuals who train their dogs to attack or dog fight. There's simply no reason for such activities and people who engage in them need to spend some time in jail.

Here's the bottom line:

It's been proven in study after study that banning doesn't work. I guess it is easier to ban a breed though than live up to our responsibilities as dog owners and be accountable.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com
VISIT NOW: http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~


Nicki the Lion Tamer

Nothing seemed unusual to Jerry Macon when he woke up. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and clean and the sounds of nature abounded. Mornings were his favorite part about his family's annual camping trip to the Sierras.

They had arrived two days earlier from their home in San Francisco. He started a fire for breakfast with his wife, Denice, while his ten-year-old son, Derek, took a walk with Nicki. Nicki was the dog they had gotten from the pound a few years earlier.

Nicki is a mutt. Jerry wasn't overly excited about adopting Nicki, but Derek had fallen in love with the scrawny little dog almost immediately. She had proven to be a steady dog though and was a constant companion to Derek.

Nicki loved the walks and would run ahead of Derek as if scouting out the area. They stopped at the lake, and Nicki fetched a stick Derek threw into the water over and over again.

They headed back to camp anticipating a big breakfast and a day of fishing ahead. Nicki, as always, had run up ahead bouncing along with the shear joy and excitement only a dog seems to be able to grasp.

About 300 yards from their camp, Derek heard the unmistakable growl of a mountain lion. As he turned around, he saw the large cat only a few yards away, crouched and ready to jump. Nicki heard it too.

Nicki charged back to Derek and put herself between the boy and the cat, barking feverishly. The cat, unimpressed, continued to advance on the two. Nicki, without hesitation, charged and attacked the lion. With Nicki engaged in defending her boy, Derek ran back to camp for his father.

Jerry grabbed his gun and started back to where the two animals were fighting. Approximately halfway there, Jerry and Derek saw Nicki heading back to camp covered in blood and limping. The lion was nowhere to be found.

Nicki was rushed to a vet who was over an hour away. She suffered a broken leg, and numerous lacerations that required over sixty stitches to close. Her ear had been torn extensively, and her neck had several punctures. She healed nicely though with the exception of a lopsided ear.

What amazed Jerry was the fact that Nicki was afraid of other animals. His brother had a Chihuahua that terrorized Nicki, even though Nicki was ten times the little dog's size. Jerry's comment: "I guess Nicki's love for the boy was stronger than her fear of animals. She still runs like hell from that Chihuahua though!"

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Joke of the Week

As I've Matured ...

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you.  All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.

I've learned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.

I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just jack-asses.

I've learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more screwed up than you think.

I've learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

I've learned that it is not what you wear, it is how you take it off.

I've learned to not sweat the petty things, and not pet the sweaty things.

I've learned that exs are like fungus, and keep coming back.

I've learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

I've learned that I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy it.

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it.

I've learned that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.

I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.  And the real pains in the butt are permanent.

Pass this along to 5 friends ... trust me, they'll appreciate it. Who knows, maybe something good will happen.

If not ... tough.

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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