[OPINIÓN] “My dog ​​would never do that…” By Pablo Gómez Muñoz, Clinical Ethologist. Veterinary Medicine, San Sebastián University.

Several weeks ago, a couple of Pitbull dogs attacked, with fatal consequences, a 3-year-old boy, a member of his close family in the Alerce sector in Puerto Montt.

How? Why? Who is to blame? The questions that arise as a result of this news outnumber the answers that we can offer. However, after the initial shock of such an unfortunate event has passed a bit, I venture to ask what, in my opinion, is the most important of the questions: Can it be prevented?

From the study of animal behavior it is not possible, and it would even be irresponsible, to pass judgment on this particular accident, since there were no witnesses who can offer us two antecedents that are absolutely necessary.

All behaviour, in this case aggression by dogs, responds to a context and a trigger. The context refers to the environmental and individual components that promote and encourage the execution of a certain behavior, while the trigger is the direct stimulus that generates the individual’s reaction.

On the trigger, there are many ways to intervene. In the first instance it is extremely important to pay attention to the early childhood of the puppies. The experiences lived before the first 4 months will directly influence the personality that this dog shows as an adult.

In the search for the ideal, we should meet the mother of the puppy that we are going to introduce to our family and she must give us the confidence that she does not show behavioral disorders or bad character. The first learning system of puppies is imitation, especially of their mother. If we don’t like the mother, we should turn on the alarms. Then comes early education and training.

It is imperative to emphasize that teaching methods have evolved considerably hand in hand with behavioral science and today practices that cause harm, pain or fear to pets are categorically rejected, not only for the protection of these individuals, but also because results will not be as expected.

Finally, socialization at an early age will give our pets many more tools to face the world in the future.

Pablo Gómez Muñoz, Clinical Ethologist.

Veterinary Medicine, San Sebastián University.

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