I often save “pet stories” or “pet items” that I find interesting. Not long ago, “USA Weekend” published “Pet Peeves of dog experts” by Steve Dale. Intrigued, I considered the messages in his compilation. I included some observations as a Pet Parent and Pet Professional… mostly as a pet parent.
Accentuate the positive
Victoria Stilwell (trainer, host of It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet):
“We must stop dominance-based and punitive training methods. There’s no science there, and dogs don’t learn anything except to fear us. Positive training techniques work; not to mention they are more humane, enhancing the relationship with your dog instead of destroying it. If dogs are our best friends, they deserve our kindness and respect. I won’t rest until science-based positive training is the norm.”
Our Mango was ill treated in her “training.” While her treatment may be on the extreme, it is clear that the abuse was meant to train and not just meant to harm. Of course that does not excuse the bad human…
Let dogs help your doctor
Jennifer Arnold (author of In a Dog’s Heart, founder/CEO of Canine Assistants):
“Dogs have the extraordinary capacity to make our lives better in ways we couldn’t have imagined only a few decades ago, from detecting cancers to telling us when there’s a diabetic high or low.” [At Canine Assistants, dogs are trained to help people when an epileptic seizure occurs; about 90% of them learn on their own to predict seizures.] “Learning how dogs are able do these things can be lifesaving. What’s most extraordinary, dogs do seem to want to help us.”
I have always believed that all my pets, not just my dogs, sense when I am not feeling well. They have an extraordinary power to make me feel better, as well.
Stop that hurtful training
R.K. Anderson (89 year-old, legendary veterinary behaviorist, founder of first center for the human/animal bond at the University of Minnesota):
“There’s never an excuse to hurt a dog when you train a dog – that is my No. 1 message. No. 2: Force isn’t necessary to train; motivate dogs using treats or toys, or use clicker training. Message No. 3: In my lifetime we’ve learned much about the benefits of the human/animal bond-an area which we have far more to learn how mutually beneficial our relationship with dogs is.”
Again, this is not just a dog thing. We decided to teach our Magic, a cat, to walk on a leash. Besides the obvious challenge of finding a harness small enough for her, we had to teach her to wear it, and not be afraid of her humans tethered behind her. In my opinion, this training could never have been accomplished with a negative approach. As documented in a “Pet Hui” segment, Mango was a challenge for us, but ultimately, again with the positive, she has learned without the hurtful practices she suffered before we rescued her.
Love all dogs, not just yours
Andrea Arden (regular guest on the Today show, trainer, author of Barron’s Dog Training Bible):
“It drives me crazy: People say they love dogs – and they do love their dog – but what are they thinking? When people purchase from a pet store, don’t they realize they’re perpetuating puppy mills? Look at the bigger picture! Or in New York City, blue French Bulldogs are now a trend, selling for $8,000. OK, really? Do you know how many shelter dogs can be saved with that kind of money?”
Although I think that the Steve Dale’s heading, and Andrea Arden’s observations are not necessarily consistent, I also think that both points are good. Steve’s point is that as pet owners we should love all dogs, and not just our own. Andrea Arden is saying instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money on a pure breed that will likely perpetuate a much larger problem, rescue a dog and donate the money that you would have spent. That is truly a 2-for-1.
Don’t buy a dog online
Kelly Gorman Dunbar (trainer, founder of dogstardaily.com):
“Part of the problem today is all the online buying – there isn’t a reputable breeder who makes a sale online. Sure, great breeders may have wonderful websites to promote their dogs – but they don’t sell them just like that online. Do homework. A lot more research goes into purchasing a new car, compared to buying a dog.”
I cannot imagine buying a dog or a cat on-line. And, I can’t imagine that a reputable, responsible breeder would SELL their dogs without knowing as much about the life that they were about to send their puppies or kitties into.
Give puppies lots of company
Ian Dunbar (pioneer trainer, author, founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers):
“Eight-week-old puppies go into homes unsocialized, leaving it all up to the new owners, who don’t have a chance. Without any socialization, dogs are permanently damaged, never able to reach their potential. All puppies should meet 100 people before they are 8 weeks and 100 more people between 8 and 12 weeks.”
Have fun with this one! Actually, had we had Mango as an eight-week-old, this would have been advice to follow. We started at the six-month mark, and that is a tough time to play catch up. Still, the advice holds true. The more Mango is around people and other dogs, the steadier her behavior has become.