Understanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels

Understanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels

A Normal Trait that is as Flexible as it is Manageable

This page is designed to help demystify the common trait of dog-dog aggression. Dog aggression shows up in numerous breeds, and it’s generally “no big deal”…unless you deny it, misunderstand it or exploit it. Like so many dog owners, we expect that our dogs have the potential to show some degree of dog aggression in select situations. Our job as responsible stewards is to keep our pets out of those situations by reading their body signals and understanding their individual limits. At the same time, we work to improve the tolerance of each dog through appropriate socializing opportunities. Because dog aggression is not a “one size fits all” trait, outlined below are four very common levels of dog-tolerance that we’ve come to recognize in our work with the dogs.

Typical Dog Tolerance Levels in a Group of BAD RAP Ambassadogs:


1. Dog Social

A dog that truly enjoys the company of other dogs, including housemate dogs. Very easy going; Forgives even the rudest dog manners. Dog-social dogs include most puppies and a percentage of socially mature (14 months and older) dogs. Example: Beanie is a mature female who is social and relaxed around all dogs. In contrast, the immature red dog, Penny, in the bottom right of the photo is not as dog-social as when she was a puppy. She’s very typical in that she’s losing her puppy-like tolerance as she matures. A bad accidental fight could shift Penny far away from her dog social beginnings.

2. Dog Tolerant

Typically non-reactive on leash and either indifferent or friendly to other dogs. Is well socialized and shows relaxed, easy body language in the presence of new dogs. May not ‘love’ dogs that he doesn’t know, but has decent tolerance for rude behavior; a long fuse. Enjoys known dog friends and, in general, succeeds with housemate dogs. Example: Honky Tonk is quite fine with other dogs but doesn’t seek them out like a puppy might.

3. Dog Selective

Has dog friends but is more selective. May dislike certain ‘types’ of dogs and/or is easily offended by rude dog manners. Can be described as ‘bitchy.’ Likes to dictate the rules during dog-play, and may need reminders to use good manners during play. Can succeed with housemate dogs with supervision. Example: Sally showed ‘dog aggressive’ behavior when she came to us, but with clear direction and supervised socializing opportunities, is not likely to show this behavior unless she’s pushed passed her limits.

4. Dog Aggressive

Has a very limited number of dog friends; sometimes, no dog friends. May be opportunistically leash reactive with a weak handler and/or no training. May have a short fuse during play, even with dogs that it knows. Needs heavy supervision during play and a good leader when out on leash. Many live successfully with housemate dogs (usually opposite sex) with proper supervision and safe management protocol. Example: Taz was labeled ‘Dog Aggressive’ when we first met him because he was very quick to tell dogs off. His tolerance levels have increased dramatically, thanks to lots of socializing opps and good direction from his caretakers. We watched him shift to Dog Selective personality and in his new home, he’s actually quite Dog Tolerant!

Note: All the dogs in this photo were introduced slowly and enjoy each other’s company under supervision. While none of the dogs illustrated are ‘Dog Aggressive,’ like any breed of dog, they may certainly act aggressively towards other dogs if they’re mismanaged, provoked or otherwise set up to fail. Dogs that we would label as Dog Aggressive can make fantastic pets with the right management (leashes!). 

The Bell Curve of Dog Aggression:

Dog tolerance levels are flexible and are determined by environmental factors (handler influence, training and socializing efforts) as much as they are determined by genetics. Dog Social dogs can become less social as they come into their maturity, and Dog Aggressive dogs can become much more tolerant with good direction and proper socialization. In our experience, with the combined factors of maturity, socialization, good leadership and training, most pit bull type dogs with true ‘terrier’ personalities fall comfortably in the middle spectrum of this bell curve – as do typically 2/3 of all dogs.

Source Badrap.org

July 4th Safety

July 4th Safety

Many animals are incredibly anxious during the Independence Day holiday festivities. People “oohhh” and “aawww” over the sight of beautiful firework displays, but for animals this is a frightening experience. Due to a dog’s keen sense of hearing, fireworks sound much louder to them. Because of this, many dogs will run at the first fireworks bang. Dogs have been known to dig under fences, tear through screen doors and windows, and chew their way out of crates when they are afraid.

Because so many animals are startled and frightened by exploding fireworks, Minneapolis Animal Care & Control impounds a great number of pets during the first few weeks of July and recommends the following to keep your pets safe:

1. Keep your pets indoors as much as possible on the Fourth of July.

2. Secure your dog in a harness and/or collar and leash when going outside.

3. Drown out the noise of fireworks using music or television.

4. Close windows and doors to lessen the sound.

5. Some pets are soothed by the presence of their owners – keep calm, distract your pet by petting, giving food or treats, grooming, and other hands-on activities.

6. For animals that find their own hiding places, let them be.

Courtesy of Minneapolis Care & Control

Fireworks aren’t the only holiday hazard

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

Courtesy of the ASPCA


Have fun, stay safe!

Playing it Safe with “Leave It” Part 2

Playing it Safe with “Leave It” Part 2

Have you been practicing your dog’s “leave it” skills? We presented Part 1 of this important exercise a few weeks ago to help you teach your dog to think twice before gobbling down potentially dangerous items. Now it’s time to take it to the next level!

Katie Grillaert of Fetch Dog Training takes you through the steps to increase the difficulty of this training exercise to improve your dog’s skills and control.

Practice this technique with your dog and come back in the coming weeks for another part in this series. Good luck!

Don’t Just Say Pit Bulls Are Awesome, Prove It!

Don’t Just Say Pit Bulls Are Awesome, Prove It!

by Nan Hildebrandt
Events Manager, Save-a-Bull Rescue

Anyone who owns a pit bull has probably experienced first-hand the instant and unfounded bad reaction some people have the minute you tell them what kind of dog you have. I still can’t believe in this day and age how many times I hear “I can’t believe you have pit bulls in your home, aren’t they mean?” or “You better watch out, they’ll turn on you!” or “Those dogs will eat your face off.” (seriously, that happened). If I don’t get one of those uneducated comments, I will for sure get the raised eyebrow “look” and that person’s impression of me just changed.

Unfortunately that’s the world we live in, and while we as breed advocates are working hard to change that mind set, pit bulls still bear the heavy burden of having to be more well-behaved than any other dog out there just to prove their equality.

Luckily, pit bulls are smart, loyal and learn quickly. This makes them perfect candidates for the Canine Good Citizen Program. The CGC Program teaches good manners to dogs and responsible dog ownership to their owners. It includes a 10-step non-competitive test and a Responsible Dog Owner Pledge. Here are the 10 steps in the CGC test:

Step 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler.

Step 2: Sitting politely for petting
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.

Step 3: Appearance and grooming
The dog will permit someone to check it’s ears and front feet, as a groomer or veterinarian would do.

Step 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Following the evaluator’s instructions, the dog will walk on a loose lead (with the handler/owner).

Step 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three).

Step 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay.

Step 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler (from 10 feet on a leash).

Step 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

Step 9: Reaction to distraction
The evaluator will select and present two distractions such as dropping a chair, etc.

Step 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person. The evaluator will hold the dog’s leash while the handler leaves the room for 3 minutes.

It’s important that every pit bull be a shining example of the breed and being a Canine Good Citizen is a huge step in the right direction. Also, some homeowner’s insurance companies are encouraging CGC testing, and an increasing number of apartments and condos require that resident dogs pass the CGC test.

IMG_2830So, does your dog have what it takes to pass the CGC test? It’s not easy. I’ve personally taken the test with my dog Winnie. She’s a straight A student in obedience class, has excellent focus, loves people and enjoys learning more than any dog I’ve ever had. And we failed – big time. Even though she’s a great dog, it showed me what we need to work on to be a great pit bull and we’ll do it again, and again, and again, until we pass.

Lynn Silvis, CGC evaluator at Canine Coach, encourages all pit bull owners to consider this test, “Don’t just say pit bulls are awesome, PROVE it!” If you’d like to take the CGC test, find an evaluator in your area here.

And when you pass your test, don’t forget to share your success with us!


Being Responsible
It’s not just the dog who has to work hard. Another part of the CGC test is the Responsible Owner’s Pledge. This is an oath you take promising to set your dog up for success by being the best dog owner you can be. Even if you don’t pass or take the CGC test, this pledge is something every dog owner should solemnly swear to uphold. Good pit bull owners help break the stereotype of these great dogs.

AKC CGC℠ Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

I will be responsible for my dog’s health needs. These include:

  • Routine veterinary care including check-ups and vaccines.
  • Adequate nutrition through proper diet and clean water at all times.
  • Daily exercise and regular bathing and grooming.

I will be responsible for my dog’s safety.

  • I will properly control my dog by providing fencing where appropriate, not letting my dog run loose, and using a leash in public.
  • I will ensure that my dog has some form of identification when appropriate (which may include collar tags, tattoos, or microchip ID).
  • I will provide adequate supervision when my dog and children are together.

I will not allow my dog to infringe on the rights of others.

  • I will not allow my dog to run loose in the neighborhood.
  • I will not allow my dog to be a nuisance to others by barking while in the yard, in a hotel room, etc.
  • I will pick up and properly dispose of my dog’s waste in all public areas such as on the grounds of hotels, on sidewalks, parks, etc.
  • I will pick up and properly dispose of my dog’s waste in wilderness areas, on hiking trails, campgrounds and in off-leash parks.

I will be responsible for my dog’s quality of life.

  • I understand that basic training is beneficial to all dogs.
  • I will give my dog attention and playtime.
  • I understand that owning a dog is a commitment in time and caring.

Click here to download and print a copy of the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge


Source: http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/cgc-test-items-and-pledge/

Playing it Safe with “Leave It” Part 1

Playing it Safe with “Leave It” Part 1

Last week the Twin Cities was in an uproar over a slew of dangerous baited dog treats strewn around a Lakeville neighborhood. Screws, rubber bands and pills wrapped in tasty hot dogs and peanut butter were clearly intended to entice and cause harm to innocent family pets. Our condolences go out to families whose pets were affected by this nightmare.

While this type of incident is rare and isolated, it does serve as a reminder to always be aware of your dog’s surroundings and what he may be finding of interest as he sniffs the ground on a walk, in your yard or even in your home.

The best defense against him ingesting whatever he may find is to teach your dog the “leave it” command. Learning “leave it” will give your dog the self-restraint to look to you for guidance before gobbling down something harmful.

Katie Grillaert of Fetch Dog Training offers the following tips for teaching your dog “leave it” as a default behavior.


Practice this technique with your dog and come back in the coming weeks for a additional parts to this training series. We’ll expand on this skill with “leave it” in an open hand, then “leave it” on floor, then “leave it” walking past items.