Why Do Isolated Dogs Attack?
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Why is it dangerous to leave dogs isolated and neglected in a back yard? Why do dogs kept in kennels for day after day eventually resort to aggression? Why do these types of dogs escape and then attack?
The first reason is because these dogs become more and more unsocialized by being alone. For dogs to remain friendly, they need continual social interaction with other animals and people. Year after year of isolation makes dogs distrustful of strangers, both animal and human.
Second, isolated dogs have nothing to do. So, they become obsessed with the only stimulation they have… whatever is going on inside and outside their territory. That’s all they have to think about, hour after hour, day after day.
Third, many times isolated dogs live in very harsh conditions. There is no comfort. Feeding is often irregular. Water is often not available. There’s no decent escape from the weather, so they suffer when it is hot, and shiver when cold. Think how you’d feel if you were physically miserable all the time. You’d get depressed an angry. I’ve seen well meaning people use outdoor kennels not realizing that the kennels they have built are not good for their dogs. Even if these dogs are loved, a harsh kennel will lead to aggression at some point.
Fourth, dogs like this begin to dig. They try to make dens, they look for entertainment, they try to escape, or they try to get loose to defend their territory. Many times the yards they live in aren’t adequate to contain them. The dogs work at gates and fences, trying to figure out how to escape.
Fifth, the need to form and defend the pack’s survival becomes paramount. Being extremely stressed, deprived of social contact, hungry, thirsty, frustrated, and put in a survival mode over territory, they will be likely to attack when they get out. Wild animals get very dangerous when starved or pressured in their territories, even to the point of killing and eating their young. When you put too many people in too small of a space, you get a phenomenon called “cabin fever”. The people will get aggressive and even kill one another. When you compress animals in a confined space for too long, they become dangerous. You are mimicking the kind of situation animals face during times of disease epidemics, overpopulation, or starvation. When wolves are pressured like this, they hunt and kill rival packs of wolves. The need is to make sure there is sufficient prey to hunt, room to breed, and space to be free from danger.
That’s what extreme isolation does to dogs, and why they attack.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.