Thursday, May 17, 2012

The 11th Subtest

This post is one of a series of posts on TiHo. For a complete listing of the posts in this series see the TiHo Index.
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The canine aggression test developed by TiHo is comprised of 36 situations, or subtests. The eleventh subtest is the "Drunken Man" situation. This subtest takes on extraordinary importance, because all of the statements concerning the aggressive tendencies of Golden Retrievers in comparison to pit bulls are derived from the response of a single dog to this one test question.

Angela Mittmann, in her 2002 study of breed listed dogs, describes the "Drunken Man" subtest as follows:
10.  A "drunk" staggers over (a distance of 2 m).
The dog-handler team and the tester pass each other. The handler leads his dog on the side facing the subject. The subject wears a jacket soaked with alcohol, slurs and staggers when walking.*
Tina Johann, in her 2004 study of Golden Retrievers,  describes the same situation thus:
11. The dog is not only signaled visually and acoustically, but [the subtest] also conveys the olfactory impression of a  drunk; the jacket of the test subject is soaked with alcohol. The test person mumbles and stumbles upon passing the dog.**
The dogs were rated on a scale of one through seven. On the TiHo tests, a response on scale level five is characterized thus:
5. Biting (attempt to bite) or attack (attempt to attack: coming closer at high pace and pushing) with growling and/or barking and/or showing teeth.
One Golden Retriever received a rating of 5 on the Drunken Man subtest during Johann's testing. None of the other 69 Golden Retrievers scored above a level two on any of the 35 other subtests.

According to TiHo data, this single dog, or 1.4% of the Golden Retrievers, reached a Scale Level of 5; this was the only situation in which a Golden Retriever reached a scale level higher than Scale 2.

In other words, one Golden Retriever may have "pushed" toward  the Drunken Man while on his six foot long leash and either growled or barked or showed his teeth. Many dog owners would consider this appropriate protective behaviour.

This one dog's response is the sole origin of the The Hannover Formula which continues to echo and ripple across the web. The advocates of fighting breeds have taken the original TiHo statements and altered them to suit their needs; the TiHo scientists have themselves been willing participants in promulgating this deception about the aggressiveness of Golden Retrievers.***

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* 10. Ein „Betrunkener“ torkelt vorbei (Abstand 2 m).
Das Hund-Halter-Gespann und die Testperson gehen aneinander vorbei. Der Halter führt seinen Hund auf der der Testperson zugewandten Seite. Die Testperson trägt eine mit Alkohol getränkte Jacke, lallt und torkelt beim Gehen.

** The Drunken Man subtest is number 11 in the Johann study.
11. Um dem Hund nicht nur optisch und akustisch, sondern auch olfaktorisch den Eindruck eines Betrunkenen zu vermitteln, ist die Jacke der Testperson mit Alkohol getränkt. Die Testperson lallt und torkelt beim Passieren des Hundes.

*** See also: Animal Farm Foundation: No Significant Difference

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US