The Slippery Slope of Breed-Based Dog Bans

The city of Chicago is looking into a ban on pit bulls. I have said many times, that I feel that such bans are just plain stupid. The primary cause for the overinflated number of attacks on people is the owner’s lack of education about their breed and how to train a dog, not the aggressive nature of the dog itself. Furthermore, some dogs simply should not be owned by certain people. Active breeds such as Dalmatians, Huskies and Border Collies do not belong in homes where the primary past time involves sitting in front of a computer or reading books. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers do not belong in homes with owners that are anything less than 100% devoted to training a head strong dog, that will take over the alpha position in the household if you aren’t paying attention. But, if you love reading books and watching TV, a smaller dog, such as a cavalier king charles spaniel, or a toy poodle, dogs bred for companion purposes, might be more your speed.

This is not to say that there aren’t variations among the breeds, and certainly my descriptions are not 100% accurate, but they are designed to give you an idea of the level of forethought one should put into owning a dog. Choosing which breed you are going to go with is incredibly important, because it gives you a general idea of the disposition of the animal, its care level, how hard it will be to train, and what level of exercise it will need. For all of these things, the breed standard can be used as a rule of thumb.

Note some key phrases here, “general idea”, “rule of thumb” and “variations”. The reason for this is that owners often make dogs what they are. There is a reason that Pavlov’s method of feeding response works. It’s because we teach dogs how to be what they are. Dogs will do anything that they think pleases their master, so if the owner is scared of being alone, the dog will become aware of that fear and be more alert and more protective when the owner is alone. These are simple responses that we subconciously teach our pets over the years. It takes a lot of effort to be aware of the things you teach your dogs in your home.

Ultimately, I believe that responsibility for the way a dog behaves should be placed primarily on the owner, and not the dog. There are such things as bad dogs, but these animals are nearly always created by the human in control.

You may be asking yourself what the point of all of this is. It’s very simple. Banning the breed of dog does not eliminate the problem. In municipalities where pit bulls have been banned, other breeds have taken their place as problem animals. I would also venture a guess and say that these same dogs that are causing problems in these communities, are owned by the same people that had the problem pit bulls that came before them. Ban the jerk who is unwilling to learn about canine behavior before putting the lives of people in his community in the animal’s hands, not the dog.

I feel that it is arrogant to walk through the world blissfully ignorant of human impact upon it. Dog bans are born of such arrogance.