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Will 'canine disarming' procedure help Cotton, a severely aggressive dog?

Cotton, an American Eskimo dog who underwent an experimental dental procedure

Diane Krieger's dog, Cotton, has a problem: aggression so severe that nothing, including an assist from "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan, seemed to help. Krieger tried a litany of suggestions from experts to help Cotton, a 6-year-old American Eskimo, stop biting -- St. John's wort-type supplements designed to soothe him, desensitization training, a low-protein diet, even pepper spray -- but with little success. 

Faced with few options and desperate to do anything to avoid euthanizing Cotton, Krieger recently turned to a controversial dental procedure termed "canine disarming." The Times followed Cotton as he underwent the procedure and created this informative photo gallery on the subject.

According to Dr. David Nielsen, the South Bay veterinary dentist who performed the procedure on Cotton, disarming is accomplished by "doing a laser vital pulpotomy at the level of the canines. This takes away the slicing, knife effect of the canines and makes them blunt trauma instruments. We also reduce and blunt the incisors, further lessening the bite effect."  

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. opposes disarming on the grounds that it doesn't address underlying behavior issues that cause dogs to bite. The American Veterinary Dental College grudgingly accepts the use of the procedure in "selected cases," The Times reported.

It's certainly far from an ideal option, but Krieger thought it was her only choice and sprang for the $1,600 treatment. A month after Cotton's disarming, he still goes after strangers on Krieger's property, but now his bark is worse than his bite, as opposed to the other way around.  

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Dental technician Jose Dominguez, left, and veterinary dentist David Nielsen place Cotton on a table at Nielsen's Manhattan Beach clinic. Credit: Jake Stevens / Los Angeles Times

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Disarming won't work because it doesn't address the underling reason for biting. Millan's methods don't work because they use dominant training as a base. Violence begets violence and a dog changed against it's will is of the same opinion still.
Find out what is causing Cotton's fear. Most likely the dog is traumatized by veterinarians, dog trainers and owner.
My sympathy goes out for Cotton. Cotton has to deal with such amateurs . Do the dog a favor and destroy it before a Veterinarian with a crazy idea that pulling teeth is a viable way to stop a dog from injuring someone.
Pulling a dogs teeth is cruelty. The dog won't be able to defend itself. Especially from humans

Please do Cotton a favor and have him evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist. These are veterinarians who have advanced training. A specialist can work with Cotton and his familiy to learn the basis of his aggression and to treat it appropriately. Even though Cotton can no longer cause as much damage when he bites, he should not continue to live in such a stressful state. It is obvious that Cotton's owner loves him very much. She is going to extraordinary lengths to save him.

Although I can appreciate the owner's attempts to help her dog, it amazes me that she never saw a veterinary behaviorist about Cotton's issues. Disarming does not address the anxiety he must feel when someone comes onto his property. Cutting his teeth down does absolutely nothing to help him. It only helps them not get sued. And since he is still doing the behavior it's obvious there is no training going on at all.

This is as inhumane as debarking. It is not fair to take away a dog's natural form of expression just because it's easier than following through with management and training. Why is he being allowed to run loose with an electric fence if he is this aggressive? Where is the management of a leash? A fence or separate room he can be sent to when company comes? The next time a woman slaps her husband or a man attacks a woman, I want to see their hands cut off...it's no different.

This is such a sad story... the underlying issues that Cotton has - why he presents this behavior have not been discovered or solved. Disfiguring Cotton will not solve this.

A vet practicing such a procedure should be banned from the profession. This family has been led down an awful path in a misguided effort to solve thier problem - not the dog's. ...and spent a lot of money to boot.

Finding the root causes of Cotton's overwhelming fear is the only path to a solution.

Every human involved in this case should be ashamed of themselves. And implying that it's even the least bit surprising that Cesar Millan couldn't help is laughable. The man and his methods are a disgrace to dog training and this dog is the perfect example of why. Too bad Cotton is the one that has to suffer b/c everyone in his life is incapable of getting him the right professional help.

Wow! What a shame. Shame on the vet, shame on the owner. Total lack of effort toward behavior modification and certainly lack of effort toward management and containment. E-fences should never be used for an aggressive dog (or any dog for that matter IMO). This owner spent $1600 on the procedure, has a gardner, has a handi-man, etc etc but would not install a fence to contain Cotton? Was a Veterinary Behaviorist ever used? How about meds in conjunction with the veterinary behaviorist?
Shameful and very sad. This dog is living with incredible anxiety and rather than help him his teeth are altered instead. Very sad.

Cotton is living in a constant state of anxiety. Letting him have free run of the yard is allowing him to practice the behavior. He should only be outside on a leash. It is unfair to the dog and people to let this dog run free on the property.

His behavior has not changed - he still practices the behavior. I tend to believe that the owner was told to stop letting him have free run of the yard and house, but has chosen not to follow that advice. She needs to manage the dog and take him to a veterinary behaviorist and stop fooling around.

Dogs only do behaviors that work for them. This behavior works for the dog and has been allowed to continue.

Sometimes it is sadly a case where the owner really does have the dog they want. Cotton's behavior certainly focuses a lot of attention on his owner - to the point of her writing an article that is getting international attention from dog trainers and behaviorists.

Diane needs to get Cotton to a veterinary behaviorist and follow the program. Cotton is not a happy dog.

An ethical and caring veterinarian and owner would not have had this mutilation procedure done.

Cotton has extremely insecure issues that need to be dealt with other than by Milan's method which uses force and corrections that will exacerbate the problem.

This owner doesn't realize the danger that her dog poses or its' suffering. The dog is not truly happy.

For clarification, in the article regarding Cotton, the veterinarian that performed the procedure in this article is actually not a veterinary dentist, such credentials are reserved solely for those practioners that are board-certified in the specialty of veterinary dentistry by the American Veterinary Dental College.

After reading about this disturbing story, I watched the Dog Whisperer episode featuring Cotton. I find it ironic that at the end of the episode, Cesar states that he is "happy to report that Cotton is doing great" and that the family is able to control him. This obviously is not the case.

I saw the "Dog Whisperer" episode too. Cotton did fine in this episode. Cesar showed these people how to work with Cotton. I think this is more of a PEOPLE/OWNER problem. I bet they didn't want to put the time and effort into doing what needed to be done to help Cotton improve his behavior. This is such a sad, sad way to resolve the problem.

This is ridiculous. This is wrong in so many ways. Why don't they keep him on a leash? I put my dog on a leash and go out three times a day. Slipped his collar? Get a better collar. Take control of the situation. When he can not be directly supervised than he should be contained and/or properly managed. Roaming free in the yard seems like pretty risky business to me and has proven to be exactly that. Why is the dog biting people? Stop putting him in situations where he feels like he has to defend something. Help him to feel better.

Very good procedure - it actually saved my dog!

very great procedure

ALmost everybody here blames Cesar for the "failure" yet they do not know if the owners of cotton did make an effort or knew how to implement his indications.
If we argue about his techniques in which he uses domination, welcome to the world of the dogs: Have you ever seen stray dogs fight for dominance? It is really intimidating at times!
America is the land of the soft-of-heart and they think that just by dominating a dog Cesar is committing an unpardonable cruel act. You should go to Spain and see how many savages abuse bulls in bullfights, that is real abuse!


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