Nature vs. Nurture

This is where to talk about Pit Bulls!

Postby katiek0417 » March 28th, 2006, 12:34 pm

Talking about BSL, pit bull (and other breed) prejudices, etc really made me think about the question of nature vs. nurture. This is a debate which has been going on for decades, and has been studied by psychologists, biologists, sociologists, philophers, anthropologists, and more.

About a year ago, I was outside with Sacha (my lab)...we were playing "Fetch." My neighbor opened their screen door (they have a barrier rather than the deck, so they were still inside), and the gentleman friend of the lady who lives there asked if Sacha was mine. I said yes, and that I also had a doberman (that I was fostering) who was currently inside.

He said that he loves labs, but hates breeds like Akitas, Dobies, rotties, pit bulls, GSDs. I asked why, and he said that they are "naturally" aggressive. I tried to explain the difference between nature and nurture.

I feel like politicians should be educated enough to know the difference.

Nature is "biological." Nature is not used in the sense of outside, trees, etc. Nurture is "environment," "upbringing," etc. Yes, there are some dogs who have a BIOLOGICAL issue which causes them to be aggressive, behaviorally-challenged, etc (my friend had a GSD who had a chemical disorder in it's brain which led to unpredictable bouts of aggression. She had to have this dog put down). However, it is TYPICALLY the UPBRINING which leads to dogs who bite, are aggressive, etc. Dogs who are poorly socialized, beaten, not trained.

The number of people who raise their dogs in this manner is in the minority. A majority of people are responsible, good owners who want their dogs to be regular, family, good-natured pets.

When lawmakers talk about pets, they talk about "biology." Interestingly enough, when talking about murderers, violent criminals, etc, they talk about "environment/upbringing." How often have we heard the argument, in reference to a violent offender, that he/she was abused as a child, spent time living on the streets, etc? That is NURTURE. In reality, if you were to do a brain scan on every single violent criminal, in (probably) 95% of the cases, you would find that there was some frontal lobe dysfunction. The frontal lobe controls such things as inhibition, control, aggression, etc. People with frontal lobe dysfunction typically demonstrate issues knowing right from wrong, have trouble inhibiting their actions, have trouble controlling anger.

So, why, can lawmakers (and other people) say that it's BIOLOGY which makes a DOG aggressive (when dog owners know that it's ENVIRONMENT) and then turn around and say that ENVIRONMENT makes a PERSON aggressive (when science says it's BIOLOGY)?

They really have it all wrong...yet, ignore what scientists know to be true...

I hope this post has made sense....
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
User avatar
katiek0417
pointy ear hoarder
 
Posts: 6280
Location: Glen Burnie, MD

Postby gooeydog » March 28th, 2006, 6:57 pm

katiek0417 wrote:About a year ago, I was outside with Sacha (my lab)...we were playing "Fetch." My neighbor opened their screen door (they have a barrier rather than the deck, so they were still inside), and the gentleman friend of the lady who lives there asked if Sacha was mine. I said yes, and that I also had a doberman (that I was fostering) who was currently inside.

Well, since it's right there, I'd like to ask if your lab learned to fetch on her own, or if she had to be taught? Does your Dobe fetch? Taught by you or him/herself?

I think it's incorrect to compare dogs to humans in this aspect, as the two are very different. Most humans are basically the same, in that the majority of people don't breed for the purpose of intensifying certain traits, whereas humans DO selectively breed dogs for that. For example, you're more likely to have a lab with some natural aptitude for fetch than a Chow with the same. Do you get labs that don't fetch and chows that do? Sure. But due to selective breeding of dogs with natural retrieving aptitude, the average lab is more likely to fetch than the average chow.

Many breeds show some indication of having been selectively bred for a given purpose. Sighthounds have a natural aptitude to chase prey, something any reputable rescue will warn new owners of. Retrievers have a natural aptitude to retrieve, herders to herd, etc. Some breeds, due to selective breeding of dogs that showed good guarding instincts are more likely to guard than others, though the pit bull is not one of them (despite popular belief). What selective breeding has brough to the table for them is a natural tendency towards dog aggression, and towards having srtong will and drive.

I have to head out to school now, but wanted to post to this, so I'll add more later.
gooeydog
Just Whelped
 
Posts: 61
Location: MD

Postby mnp13 » March 28th, 2006, 7:03 pm

I think it's a mixture. In my experience, some Pit Bulls are just dog aggressive. You can see it at a very young age. You can train them to control themselves, but the aggression is instinct, just like Sasha's instinct to retreive.

I think the nurture comes in when you teach the dog that the world does not have to be attacked, that they can look to you for leadership, and that they need to learn self control.
Michelle

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
User avatar
mnp13
Evil Overlord
 
Posts: 17234
Location: Rochester, NY

Postby pitbullmamaliz » March 28th, 2006, 7:56 pm

I like to think that nurture has more power than nature. My little girl's mom was being used to breed fighters, so technically Inara should probably end up with some major dog aggression. However, I'm hoping that by training her rigorously and providing proper guidance, that I can counteract that, or at least keep it controlled.
User avatar
pitbullmamaliz
Working out in the buff causes chafing
 
Posts: 15437
Location: Cleveland, OH

Postby katiek0417 » March 28th, 2006, 8:19 pm

gooeydog wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:About a year ago, I was outside with Sacha (my lab)...we were playing "Fetch." My neighbor opened their screen door (they have a barrier rather than the deck, so they were still inside), and the gentleman friend of the lady who lives there asked if Sacha was mine. I said yes, and that I also had a doberman (that I was fostering) who was currently inside.

Well, since it's right there, I'd like to ask if your lab learned to fetch on her own, or if she had to be taught? Does your Dobe fetch? Taught by you or him/herself?

I think it's incorrect to compare dogs to humans in this aspect, as the two are very different. Most humans are basically the same, in that the majority of people don't breed for the purpose of intensifying certain traits, whereas humans DO selectively breed dogs for that. For example, you're more likely to have a lab with some natural aptitude for fetch than a Chow with the same. Do you get labs that don't fetch and chows that do? Sure. But due to selective breeding of dogs with natural retrieving aptitude, the average lab is more likely to fetch than the average chow.

Many breeds show some indication of having been selectively bred for a given purpose. Sighthounds have a natural aptitude to chase prey, something any reputable rescue will warn new owners of. Retrievers have a natural aptitude to retrieve, herders to herd, etc. Some breeds, due to selective breeding of dogs that showed good guarding instincts are more likely to guard than others, though the pit bull is not one of them (despite popular belief). What selective breeding has brough to the table for them is a natural tendency towards dog aggression, and towards having srtong will and drive.

I have to head out to school now, but wanted to post to this, so I'll add more later.


My point isn't that it's ONLY NATURE or NURTURE....most people are uninformed enough to blame dog aggression on NATURE, not realizing that people play a part in it.

A perfect example of the mixture of nature and nurture is in my dog. How many labs do personal protection? I mean, seriously...there are few that have gotten Schutzhund titles, but there arent too many. Labs are BRED for soft bite (for hunting, retrieving, etc). But, guess what? My lab bites...she's not the hardest biter, but she'll do it hard enough that you're not going to pull something out of her mouth easily. That's where nurture came in. I took her naturally high prey drive (labs have high prey drive), and turned into bite work...

Yes, there are pit bulls out there that are "naturally" aggressive...any breed can be "naturally" aggressive. The point is that you can ALSO nurture any dog to be aggressive with how it is brought up....

My point is that lawmakers and other people blame a lot of dog aggression on JUST NATURE, without looking at other possibilities. When I made the comparison to human murderers, it was to say that people make excuses in saying "oh, well he/she had a tough upbringing" regardless of what could possibly be going on in the brain...and unless the defense is willing to spend the money for a brain scan and an expert witness (which is VERY expensive...) it never really gets said during a trial.
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
User avatar
katiek0417
pointy ear hoarder
 
Posts: 6280
Location: Glen Burnie, MD

Postby gooeydog » March 29th, 2006, 1:31 am

You can "nurture" and try to mold a dog's inborn drives to have them do as you wish, and in some cases, such as your lab doing bitework, it will work. Even so, her high prey drive (nature) makes her a decent cantidate for bitework, BUT she'll likely never be on the same level as dogs bred specifically with bitework in mind. There is a reason that many seeing eye dog programs breed all their own dogs, if they could make a huge difference in a dog based on upbringing, more would be selected as young pups from shelters, or private breeders.

And I feel that there are cases in which NO amount of nurture can override the inborn traits of a dog. Otherwise, you wouldn't hear of these dogs who have been through horrible abuse and still have absolutely sterling temperaments towards humans. Likewise, you wouldn't also hear of the occasional dog who has been raised with all the love and care in the world, and still displays human aggression.

I'm not saying not to train, or not to socialize, BUT I think we need to be aware that dogs are a more primitive animal than we are, and react far more by instinct and inborn drive than most humans. We can train and socialize all we want, but should our dogs show temperament that is bred in, more likely than not, the safest and surest bet is to simply learn to manage it through training, confinement, etc and not expect to be able to change their genetic temperament traits.
gooeydog
Just Whelped
 
Posts: 61
Location: MD

Postby bahamutt99 » March 29th, 2006, 1:40 am

IMO, nurture works best when taking into consideration the dog's nature. Nurture seeking to run counter to the dog's inherent nature is going to be a much more uphill struggle, one that is going to be stressful to the dog and difficult to the owner.

I just wanted to say something cool. 8)
~~~
[b]Lindsay
[i]& the [url=http://www.freewebs.com/bahamutt99/index.htm]Gravity Dogs[/url][/i][/b]
User avatar
bahamutt99
Confident Young Bully
 
Posts: 513
Location: west Texas

Postby Malli » March 29th, 2006, 3:37 am

I think a little bit of both??

I think there are things that can make a PB predisposed to aggression, and there are dogs born aggressive (lots in other breeds too!).
I believe Oscar's dog reactivity is a combination of the 2. Stupid me I let him meet lots of strange dogs when he was younger, and -low and behold- not all their owners understood dogs in general or their body language (myself included initially) wich led to a few minor bites. Their temperment of courage and their bull headed determination and tenacity worked up in Oscar in combination with his experiences to create a dog reactive dog.

Some people are born aggressive too, and some people have over-the-top aggression, like some dogs, I think its just the way they were made...

Oh, and I taught him to fetch :ROFL2:

Malli
User avatar
Malli
E-I-E-I-O!
 
Posts: 6341
Location: CANADA EH?

Postby aurora » March 29th, 2006, 4:25 pm

I absolutely thinks its a bit of both, but I think nature has a very large influence on how a dog turns out.

I've had dogs come into my shelter that were completely torn up from fighting, dogs that were thrown out of cars, beaten, etc., that had nothing but love for everyone they met. Those dogs had naturally good temperaments and despite what environment they were raised in and what abuses they suffered, they were still temperamentally sound.

I've also had dogs that have had every advantage that are just genetically bad. My oldest dog Roxy has been with me since she's 3 months old. She was abused as a puppy, but since being with me, she's been socialized, trained, desensitize, pampered and she is still has tons of issues. She's "bad" because her genetics are crap.

I think a lot of dogs are in between though. A lot of dogs can be really great pets when in the right situation but nightmares in others. There's no black and white, it's all grey to me.
aurora
Just Whelped
 
Posts: 32
Location: new jersey

Postby Malli » March 29th, 2006, 5:03 pm

well, I think there are insane dogs like there are insane people too; only we can treat the people and help them with their chemical imbalance, its not quite so easy with animals...

Malli
User avatar
Malli
E-I-E-I-O!
 
Posts: 6341
Location: CANADA EH?

Postby realpitbull » March 29th, 2006, 6:01 pm

The best analogy I've ever heard was this:

Asking what behavior is "natural" vs. what behavior is "nurtured" is like asking someone to take the ingredients out of a cake after it's been baked.

Nature and nurture are inextricably interwined, and both effect behavior.
Mary Harwelik, CPDT
Certified Trainer - Pit Bull Specialist
----------------
http://www.realpitbull.com
http://www.peaceablecanines.com
realpitbull
Snot Nose Bully Pup
 
Posts: 126
Location: NJ

Postby mnp13 » March 29th, 2006, 6:56 pm

:goodStuff:
Michelle

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
User avatar
mnp13
Evil Overlord
 
Posts: 17234
Location: Rochester, NY

Postby katiek0417 » March 29th, 2006, 8:05 pm

Malli wrote:well, I think there are insane dogs like there are insane people too; only we can treat the people and help them with their chemical imbalance, its not quite so easy with animals...

Malli


People who are insane can be helped in the sense that they may not actively show sypmtoms. True "insanity" is typically not "fixed" by medications. The medications just put them into such a stupor that their symptoms are controlled...they, by no means, become functional (in most cases).

Many people with chemical imbalances are not naturally aggressive. The exception to this is people diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia - while not necessarily aggressive, they will have a higher tendency towards aggression in order to "save themselves."

People with aggression issues typically have an issue with the frontal lobes (which leads to problems with inhibitions). These issues can arise from head injuries, stroke, abnormal frontal lobe formation due to infection, etc. This type of issue CAN NOT be fixed with medication.
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
User avatar
katiek0417
pointy ear hoarder
 
Posts: 6280
Location: Glen Burnie, MD

Postby Malli » March 29th, 2006, 8:28 pm

I never even mentioned that everyone is fixable, or that all insane people are aggressive. I was speaking of other behaviors as well.

Most Schizophrenics are able to control their symptoms and be functional. I know because I watched someone go through this, come out the end of the tunnel, and continue to enjoy his life
The medications just put them into such a stupor that their symptoms are controlled...they, by no means, become functional (in most cases).

He is by no means in a "stupor"

I thought this was a discussion on nature versus nurture? :|
User avatar
Malli
E-I-E-I-O!
 
Posts: 6341
Location: CANADA EH?

Postby katiek0417 » March 29th, 2006, 10:35 pm

Malli wrote:Most Schizophrenics are able to control their symptoms and be functional.


MOST schizophrenics are NOT ABLE to control their symptoms and be functional...I'm a psychologist...I spent a good amount of time doing research with schizophrenics at NIH (and am getting ready to start up a pharmaceutical-funded project on "new" meds and more traditional meds)...I know the literature, and the research from this field very well. MOST (notice I am not saying all, but definitely a majority) sufferers may not show active symptoms (positive or negative), but are unable to hold a stable job, etc....

Even EXTREME bipolars (ones who have psychotic symptoms) have trouble holding stable jobs, etc (I'm NOT talking about the MAJORITY of bipolar sufferers who are able to control their mood fluctuations with different medications).

The good thing is that new classes of drug which work in the extreme cases of bipolar do not have as much of a sedating effect...unfortunately, they can still only be used off-label for the treatment of schizophrenia.
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
User avatar
katiek0417
pointy ear hoarder
 
Posts: 6280
Location: Glen Burnie, MD

Postby katiek0417 » March 29th, 2006, 11:05 pm

My point is that there are so many angles...and what's true for one dog may not be true for another....

I just wanted to get people's thoughts on nature vs nurture...that's all
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
User avatar
katiek0417
pointy ear hoarder
 
Posts: 6280
Location: Glen Burnie, MD

Postby Malli » March 30th, 2006, 2:20 am

I'm the first one to admit that they are all unique, all their minds work differently, and they all require different methods of training.

I was simply stating exactly what I wrote, some dogs like some people are just not wired right, and cannot be fixed. :| So in that case, it would have nothing to do with nature or nuture...

There are all sorts of dogs for all sorts of training methods, thats what makes them great :) We have to try and be as adaptable as they have evolved to be, it definately keeps some of us on our toes...

Malli
User avatar
Malli
E-I-E-I-O!
 
Posts: 6341
Location: CANADA EH?


Return to Pit Bull Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users