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Could this dog turn vicious?

800,000 people each year need medical care from dog bites. Learn to respect Fido's nature and keep your family safe.

Your dog is a disaster waiting to happen.

Fido isn't exactly plotting revenge for too few kibbles in the food bowl or an abbreviated walk. But at their core, dogs are predators and pack animals, and experts say canines' powerful instinctive responses to things as innocent as a hug around the neck can create dangerous situations for human companions, especially unsupervised kids.

Dog-attack fatalities are rare, about a dozen per year in the United States. The most recent in Colorado occurred in Fruita last weekend, when Kate-Lynn Logel, 7, was mauled to death after she was left alone in her yard with a pair of adult Alaskan malamutes her family had adopted three weeks earlier.

"Who knows what happened?" says Windsor veterinarian and Denver Post columnist Robin Downing. "It is normal, natural dog behavior to establish a pecking order. If there is a threat - real or imagined - to the pecking order, that can be enough to trigger a violent episode."

Some of the 4.7 million dog bites logged each year might be avoided if humans would admit that dogs are not four-legged people, animal behaviorists say.

This information was supplied by:
Dana Coffield
Denver Post Staff Writer

"Pedigree is what the dog should be.  Conformation is what the dog appears to be.
Performance shows what the dog actually is."

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