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« KC Pet Project spends week with Aimee Sadler - thoughts on shelter playgroups | Main | Florida Shelter Transperency Law Signed! »

April 25, 2013

Comments

DubV

"Canine behavior is very complex -- and the role that NATURE and NURTURE plays in its development MUST be considered -- and it's why all attempts to explain dog attacks like this, which are quite rare, without considering the NATURE and NURTURE and circumstances surrounding the attacks fail."

Fixed it for you.

Humans have much greater flexibility in behavioral outcomes based upon environment. Yet, the idea that humans are blank slates at birth is widely discredited. It is only supported by a few stripes of ideologues. You should check out Pinker's book Blank Slate. Nature and nurture both play a role. You seem to focus on nurture primarily and forget the rest.

Brent

And you focus entirely on nature, and ignore the rest.

First off, as for nature, of course there are differences -- but those differences are on an INDIVIDUAL DOG level. Anyone who's raised a litter of puppies knows how distinct those personalities are at a young age in spite of sharing the same genetics.

I focus on nurture because

a) we know that genetically there are no markers for "aggression" that can be selectedly bred for

b) there is no evidence that "pit bulls" are more aggressive than other dogs and

c) there is no evidence that more than even a token minority of pit bulls are involved in attacks (which, if it were a breed trait, then it would be much more than that).

So I'm focusing in on the side that we know is a causal factor and that we can reliably predict. You and the folks you agree with just spent an entire post, and 43 comments, and never once mentioned that the girl in Iowa that was killed was staying at a home where 3 adult members of the home had all recently been charged, and plead guilty to drug possession, drug creation, and child neglect. Seems like really relevant information in the case, and you ignored it entirely. This home was a trainwreck waiting to happen regardless of what type of dog they owners. When you completely ignore that, that's when you know the focus is entirely in the wrong place.

DubV

Perhaps it is just obvious that both nature and nurture have a role. There is nothing about having lower class, drug-addled owners that automatically makes a dog vicious. I can reverse your reasoning on you. If have poor and undesirable owners automatically made a dog vicious, then we would see many more dog attacks than we do.

Here are a few pages with pics of the white pit as a puppy. It seems like it was treated as a family member, at least at that time.

DubV

"First off, as for nature, of course there are differences -- but those differences are on an INDIVIDUAL DOG level. Anyone who's raised a litter of puppies knows how distinct those personalities are at a young age in spite of sharing the same genetics."

This just kind of a play on words. Of course, you can notice differences among any two individual dogs, even those from the same litter. The question would be, do those traits tend to cluster within breeds and are two randomly selected dogs from the same breed more likely to be similar than two randomly selected dogs from different breeds.

You have posted in your academic papers a study that shows differences among breeds in aggression levels. Pit fans tout the ATTS results which seem to show breed differences. Dog trainers and behaviorists have produced many books describing breed temperament. The public is told over and over to research breeds before adopting/buying so that a good fit is more likely and a poor fit is often a reason for abandonment.

There have been examples where breeds developed a genetic propensity for aggression and it was effectively removed from the breed via good stewardship.

There is the Russian fox farm experiment which created docile foxes by selective breeding in only a few generations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoB0pdhxfZs

There is the difference between wolves and domestic dogs raised in a household setting which indicates a genetic difference in aggression and behavior is possible.

The entire enterprise of dog breed creation was to instill differences in form and behavior. It is ludicrous to insist that this is only at the individual level.

Your assertion is what is called a deepity. You can look that up.

Another example is "love is just a word". A deepity is something that is true on one, superficial level, but is untrue on a deeper level, but if it were true it would have startling implications. The brain gets the two levels of meaning crossed and it appears profound when it is just silly.


Brent

Dub -- I've taken out the link to their myspace. I find it creepy and disgusting that you (and others) troll the personal information of these people.

That said, I would also deeply question your judgment about how well the dog was cared for in a family that has now had 2 charges of child neglect in the past 2 years. I'm sure they were paying just as much attention to the dog.

Brent

As for the genetic part, it's amazing to me what you'll quote, and pull out for your own good, while ignoring the rest. This is why you continue to make irrational conclusions and why your conclusions differ from those of experts who are using the full bit of the information. You can't pick and choose only the information you think helps you.

For the behavior study you're talking about, what the studies do is look at signs of aggression across breeds. And while there are some differences in the breeds, here are three REALLY IMPORTANT factors that you need to note:

1) In no breed are signs of aggression common. In fact, most dogs, regardless of breed, do not show aggression

2) There is a larger variance in "aggression" within a breed of dog, than between breeds of dogs

3) There were four different types of aggression studied, and pit bulls, as a group, were not the "most aggressive" breed in any of the four, and in fact, were below the average in human based aggression. Pit bulls were in no way shape or form a statistical outlier here, and in fact, were just very average. While you want to use the study to support your point, you fail to mention that the actual results of the study shatter your viewpoint.

http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2009/11/breed-differences-in-canine-aggression.html

As for the Silver Fox study, you have (once again) failed to understand the study and thus, have arrived at the wrong interpretation.

The Silver Fox study was one done with the complete goal of determining and isolating a gene for DOMESTICATION, not aggression. There's a huge difference. By trying to breed for the specific gene that controls domestication, they were able to breed in domestication in Foxes in just four generatons. This is why wolves (not domestic) and dogs (domestic) behave differently in the home. The lack of this gene at all in some species (like racoons for instance) is why they cannot ever be domesticate. Pit bulls are domesticated, so they are going to react very similarly to other dogs in the home because they share this commonality.

Here's a great story explaining it:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/taming-wild-animals/ratliff-text/1

The other part that I think is amazing is that the study also shows how quickly behavior can change under controlled breeding. Your buddies often cite that the historical use of pit bulls is proof of the difference in the dogs now -- but the reality is the the vast majority of pit bulls haven't been used for anything other than pets in decades, and in many cases, more than a century. So the idea that these traits hold on, when, in selective breeding they can be eliminated in just a handful of generations actually blows that whole line of thinking out of the water.

So in this case, you're now misinterpreting not one, but TWO different studies and any role they may play. It's science like this that when interpreted by experts who know what they're looking at continues to lead them to OVERWHELMINGLY determine that breed is not a primary causal factor in attacks like this.

Meanwhile, you continue to pretend that the dog in this case, which was owned by 3 people with various histories in drug creation, drug creation and child endangerment were somehow keeping the dog as a perfectly loved family pet. Doing so is lying to the public and complete disingenuous.

DubV

"The Silver Fox study was one done with the complete goal of determining and isolating a gene for DOMESTICATION, not aggression. There's a huge difference. By trying to breed for the specific gene that controls domestication, they were able to breed in domestication in Foxes in just four generatons."

This isn't true.

They isolated and breed those foxes that were less aggressive towards humans. They specifically looked for tame foxes. They were interested in the process of domestication. There is no specific gene for domestication. Domestication is the process of artificial selection. Further, there is nearly a 0% chance that it was controlled by a single gene. Most relatively complex traits are polygenic. And the process of domestication in dogs was largely a quest for docility. The hypothesis is that early humans would have favored the wild canids that lived off their scraps that were relatively docile and would drive away or kill the less docile. That is why they conducted the study as they did. They sought to replicate what they supposed would be an early selection pressure for domestic dogs.

They selected for docility and thought they would get something called the "domestication phenotype" and they did. They showed that selecting for tamer foxes introduced a type of diversity spread over several traits that are seen in multiple domesticated animals.

My original point is not changed at all.

DubV

This

http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2009/11/breed-differences-in-canine-aggression.html

wasn't the study I was speaking of. I was referring to this one

http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2012/12/factors-associated-w-aggressive-responses-in-pet-dogs.html

By the way, if you look at the study you linked, involving Serpell, you will see that there are two parts to the study. The second part is the only one that included pit bulls. It was also an anonymous online survey that could be taken multiple times and lied on if one chose. It was as reliable as a poll posted on the NY Times website. That part of the study should not have been published.

DubV

"So the idea that these traits hold on, when, in selective breeding they can be eliminated in just a handful of generations actually blows that whole line of thinking out of the water."

Genes do not just *puff* and disappear after a few generations. They don't have an expiration date like cottage cheese. There are a few factors that can cause change in allelic frequencies within a population and those are: mutation, selection, non-random mating, genetic drift, and gene flow. These are usually studied in wild populations, but domesticated animals have their own analog to it, although influenced by humans much more directly.

Now, which of these factors has changed the breed's genetics so that they are different than their ancestors? There has been no breed stewardship that would breed away from negative traits. In fact, gameness and dog-directed aggression is still prized among may breed afficionados and consider it an intrinsic part of a pit. You are right, it is possible for a breed to change quickly, but where is any evidence that one or more of these processes has changed it?

DubV

"Meanwhile, you continue to pretend that the dog in this case, which was owned by 3 people with various histories in drug creation, drug creation and child endangerment were somehow keeping the dog as a perfectly loved family pet. Doing so is lying to the public and complete disingenuous."

Did I state that this dog was perfectly loved and well-raised? No. You were making it seems as if the dog was likely guarding crack and that it was obvious all this came down to nurture. I linked to photos showing the dog in what seemed like a decent setting. I find it quaint that you are able to take what I write and then let everyone know what I actually meant to write.

Brent

Silver Foxes:

Ok, I re-read the article, it's been awhile, and you are correct that it's multiple genes, not one (I was incorrect). However, the point on them breeding for domestication is still true and in fact, them being domesticated is what leads them to not be aggressive. Regardles, comparing this to wolves as you previously did is ignorance as wolves are not domesticated, where dogs are.

Furthermore, whatever you think your point is is still not validated by the Silver Fox study as a) it shows that even if behavior can be completely hereditary (it's not) then it isn't consistently hereditary and will vary even within litters and b) when compared to the breed science that exists (which you've conveniently ignored now that it doesn't support your point) aggressive action is not clusted among a specific breed, or breeds, of dogs.

Brent

"You are right, it is possible for a breed to change quickly, but where is any evidence that one or more of these processes has changed it?"

The evidence is in the literally millions of pit bull type dogs out there that are 100% functioning as family pets, service dogs, helping children read in schools, Search and Rescue dogs, etc. This is what I keep telling you, that when 5-8 million dogs of a specific breed are solid, it is irresponsible of you to treat the actions of 11 dogs this year as a breed trait. These cases are the outliers -- not indicative of the breed as a whole which is why you must look at the other factors -- particularly on the "nurture" side of the equation.

Brent

Yes, you posted photos like the dog was in a decent setting and said that the dog was "treated like a family member" -- implying that this was great care for a dog, but AGAIN neglecting to call out that this family had PLEAD GUILTY to child negligence and now are charged with it a second time. If that is how they treat their human family members, I'm certain the dog was equally cared for.

Brent

As for the breeds and agression studies, both are similar in pointing out these three things:

1) In no breed are signs of aggression common. In fact, most dogs, regardless of breed, do not show aggression

2) There is a larger variance in "aggression" within a breed of dog, than between breeds of dogs

3) There were four different types of aggression studied, and pit bulls, as a group, were not the "most aggressive" breed in any of the four, and in fact, were below the average in human based aggression. Pit bulls were in no way shape or form a statistical outlier here, and in fact, were just very average.

If breed were an indicator of aggression then surely one of the two studies (or any of the others out there) would show a clustering toward a particular breed. And there is simply no evidence that that is the case. None.

DubV

" There is a larger variance in "aggression" within a breed of dog, than between breeds of dogs"

If this were true, then the study I linked would not have found a statistically significant difference, which they did.

Brent

Dub,

Did you read the study? Of all the characteristics shown, breed was the LEAST linked to aggression. And they noted that of the breed differences, that they were significantly similar to the breed rankings in the Duffy study. Since the HSU study doesn't rank pit bulls, we then go to the "similar" Duffy study, and note that pit bulls were not seen to be more aggressive in any of the four type of aggressions than other types of dogs. How do these facts escape you?

While I'm not opposed to the idea of differences in breed traits, and in fact, acknowledge they exist, there is no evidence, at all, that aggressive actions are a breed trait that are common among dogs of any breed. And the fact that you're trying to use studies that prove that point to disprove it is telling...

DubV

The only part of the Duffy study that included pit bull breeds was the last part based solely upon an anonymous internet survey that could be taken multiple times and lied on easily. There was absolutely no sampling design in that part.

Brent

This type of sampling isn't all that uncommon, which is why it qualified and passed peer review. Meanwhile, I can't help but chuckle at the irony in your critique of anonymity on the internet.

DubV

You are not trying to summarize data based upon anonymous comments are you?

What is ironic is that peer review is anonymous. So anonymous criticism is just as valid, if it is correct of course.

That type of sampling might not be uncommon, but it does not allow you to generalize to any specified sampling frame underlying population because that is impossible to know.

Brent

Dub,

I'm going to circle back to where I was a week ago. Experts who look at these studies, the science, the genetics, the data, and the hands on experience nearly unanimously oppose breed as being a primary causal factor.

You. An anonymous poster with the credentials of an internet troll, think they're all wrong.

I'll stand by the experts.

Meanwhile, a little girl is dead. While you want to blame the breed of dog involved, I would rather focus on the causal factors that led to this tragedy -- which is highlighted by overseers with a history of criminal drug history, and child endangerment. Now, times two.

If you want to focus on a factor that virtually every expert says is not causal, and should not be a focus, that's fine. Go do it in your safe-have warehouse with the 10 other anonymous people who agree with you. But I'm no longer providing you a platform by which you can manipulate science to support your case while ignoring the conclusions of the researchers in all of these studies.

Lis Carey

On top if all his other errors of logic and understanding, DubV misses the important point that peer reviewers are not anonymous to the editors of the journal who use them, and there are standards for the selection of peer reviewers.

KateH

Brent, while I am all for supporting actual, sensible discussion, and allowing for various thoughts and understandings leading to interesting discussions, I am rather bored by, and tired of 'One-Note DubV' and support you shunting him to the side.

Brent

Whoa. Emily, are you saying that the media doesn't exactly cover things fairly and accurately? :)

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