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War Dogs – This brought tears to my eyes.

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@Shades: Yes, using the commands that the dog is accustomed to (i.e., in the same language and with the same inflection), is obviously useful, but dogs can be re-trained to respond to a different command-word - e.g., "Kommen!" for "Come!" and eventually learn to demonstrate the correct response for that. Some of our dogs came to us only knowing commands in Welsh, or only knew particular whistles (those would usually be sheep-herding dogs). We usually never knew what "vocabulary" they were used to when they came to us - like Suki, for example, who initially didn't seem to understand us - which could have been mistaken for disobedience, if one did not understand dogs.

You are arguably spot-on where you say:
Some dogs really cannot be helped or trusted, no matter how much love and effort you put into them. Maybe adoption could have been an option, only if the service period from both the dog and their handler would end at the same time and the handler had enough space/time/love for that dog. How sad it may be, the harsh reality is that these dogs earned "to be put out to pasture", but that they are really not equipped for that. The pack is everything and the pack requires an alpha. And a dog with a scrambled brain/psyche, becomes a wild dog and people like my uncle have to step in to properly dispose of them. Not the nicest way to spent the last weeks in your life as a dog.

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It's a sad reality that it would be impossible to habituate some of these "war veteran" or other working dogs that have been trained and conditioned and used for attack/violence - because that was what they were suitable for and indeed were originally bred for (e.g., especially German Shepherds/Alsatians).
Expecting that their scrambled heads could somehow magically re-learn their behaviours and enable them to become cute domestic pets would be ignorant/infantile.

They are not nice, cute domesticated pets, and have been trained to develop their natural viciousness/ferocity and aggressiveness. To put them up for adoption would be highly irresponsible and risky. It would be like asking an unsuspecting adopting owner to unwittingly leave the proverbial loaded gun lying around their property. Only a matter of time before somebody inadvertently pulls the trigger, and then someone is likely to get mauled or killed in very short order.

Some other dog breeds though could be regarded as being naturally "more safe". For example, though I've seen a few that were snappy little critters and might give one a vicious nip, I've never come across an "attack poodle". Similarly, you'd be unlikely to successfully train a Springer spaniel to become an attack dog - they make brilliant chasers/retrievers and alarm dogs, but usually don't have an aggressive bone in their bodies and are big cowards with a loud bark. The most danger they are likely to present is as an occupational hazard - e.g., as an excessively friendly attack slobberhound, or cause you to dislocate the shoulder of your throwing arm from overuse in ball-throwing. We did have a Springer that embarrassed us mightily. It killed a bunch of free-range chickens that it saw had got out of their coop in the property next door one day. The dog was apparently having the time of its life, silently chasing the birds, catching each one in its mouth and giving it the killing shake (Springers are very soft-mouthed and don't usually bite into the prey), then dropping it and going on to the next one. Some of its victims survived. Fortunately, I interrupted the party when I called/whistled the dog, wondering where it had got to as I couldn't see it anywhere. This particular dog was not prone to straying into neighbouring properties and had never been trained for hunting - it was only doing what chasers/retrievers (hunting dogs) do instinctively when they see a bird loose on the ground. The people next door appreciated that fact and ensured their chickens didn't get out again (this was in a rural area).

@tomos: Thanks for the Cesar Millan video link. Interesting. He certainly seems to know his stuff. He doesn't miss a trick, and I learned a couple of good tips there too - the "Tsk" sound at the same time as he makes a "biting" movement with his right hand, towards a dog's neck. Never seen a high-energy unstable dog (like the Alsatian in the video) go into calm submission so quickly. Brilliant applied dog psychology. Some of that stuff - such as when to make or avoid deliberate eye-contact, posture and demeanour (communication of status and "energy") is applicable to humans and primates generally, as well as dogs and horses. You have to get dominance and respect established early on, if you want to control a pack or most animals, and, with a dog pack, if you don't successfully communicate that you're the dominant Alpha male (pack leader), then the dominant dogs will disrespect you (like Suki urinating on my leg).

Millan does advocate caution using the biting motion with a high-energy unstable dog, especially the Alsatian. It would be interesting to know whether he might consider it feasible to rehabilitate the problematic war dog veterans.
The end of one video shows Millan walking down a dusty road in the countryside somewhere, with the 20-or-so pack of dogs calmly following behind him. That was very impressive. Leading a pack calmly like that was one of the hardest things I had to learn to do, and I would usually only do it with much smaller packs (5 or so), but I managed to do it safely whilst walking across unfenced territory where there were grazing sheep/lambs.

I always enjoyed reading and learning from dog-training books and from watching TV/videos about dog training. You can also see incredible feats of dog-handling and control put into practice if you study dog obstacle course competitions and sheepdog trials - the latter especially sometimes leave me amazed at the level of symbiosis and synchronisation that can be achieved between a working dog and its handler rounding up a small group of sheep. Synergy.

PS: If you have the time, you might find it interesting to search up some stuff by this lady:
Obituary: Barbara Woodhouse, Dog Trainer Who Became TV Celebrity, at 78
AP, Published: July 10, 1988
Copied from: Barbara Woodhouse, Dog Trainer Who Became TV Celebrity, at 78 - - <>

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Thank you mouser, IainB, Shades, and tomos for your replies. I had also tried to imagine what psychological trauma might still be harbored deep in the 'war dogs' psyches. But the picture of what was presumed to be a war dog with his tough but slender female handler, and especially when coupled with supportive statements of actual handlers, caused me to at least give them a fair and impartial report. But your input is invaluable and I agree with you wholeheartedly.
My wife and I used to go past a certain house on our daily walks. Beside the house was a vacant yard with a few large bushes but no fence. There in the yard was a dog house and a massive, surly dog on a chain to a steel anchor spike. The chain allowed the dog to come to about five feet from the concrete curb. Every time we would walk past, the dog would bark at us and lunge his chain as he charged us and was brought up short.
I bought some doggie treats and began tossing him one each time we went past. Over the next few days, the dog's demeanor was transformed from anger and surliness to something far more civilized and noble. One day I missed my shot and the treat landed just beyond the dog's reach.
I can only conjecture what happened next. The unseen owner must have seen the treat, and given the poor dog a most wretched verbal threatening and chewing out "...never to go near those treats again!"
From then on, that big huge dog just lay there, pretending not to notice us, with the most awful look of defeat in his eyes. Within a few days -or was it weeks; it's been ten years ago by now- the dog disappeared. Then after a few weeks or months, an energetic little yapper appeared to take its place, the kind of nervous high-strung little animal that usually fails to respond favorably to doggie treats.
With my wife's willing agreement, we altered our route through the neighborhood to avoid walking past that house.

The recent movie, Megan Leavey (2017), features a similar situation with regard to a "war dog" facing retirement.

Based on the true life story of a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq.
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Statistics of dogs-killing-family-members demonstrate pretty conclusively that it will happen (otherwise there would be no such statistics) and that police/military-trained dogs are no exception, but in fact more likely. They are typically the loaded guns.
-IainB (December 03, 2017, 04:09 AM)
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Such killings typically happen when the dog-handler is not around. It is thought that the dogs involved initially have become confused and, for some reason, decided the victim is a valid target that needs to be attacked. After that, their killing instinct seems to take over.

Quite coincidentally. here is a Liveleak vid that I saw in my BazQux feed-reader today:
Bodycam Video Shows Police Dog Attack innocent Woman

Fortunately, the police-dog's handler in the video was around to stop it turning into anything worse than a severe mauling of the arm and hospitalisation for the distraught victim, who asks: "Oh, what did I do to him?", to which the response was "Nothing. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

What was interesting in that is that the command to let go of and stop biting the woman's arm (sounded like "Out" repeated calmly several times) was not initially responded to by the dog. I would usually call that "bad training", because the handler of such a dog would need the dog to obey an instruction immediately.
If I lived in a neighborhood where police dogs and their dog handlers worked and the dogs could not be kept under control, then I would not feel safe for myself or my children.
In the UK, I think it may still be the case that any dog that attacks and bites people, without cause, is rapidly transferred to that great kennels in the sky. Owners of fierce/fighting dog breeds (e.g., including pit-bull terriers) also need to have a special dog licence and to keep their dogs fenced in, and kept muzzled and under control on a leash when out. They are not cute pets.


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