I have a lot of people ask me for advice about dogs. It can range from where to foster or adopt from, to complicated behavioural problems. I am always willing to listen and offer my point of view on the situation at hand, but I always remind them that I have no formal dog training qualification. The dog world can be vicious, and because of this, I try to refrain from posting blogs about dog behaviour because I don’t have the energy to argue with another person about it. Today is different though.
I am writing this post to those of you who are not in the dog world and probably don’t know a lot about this. I’m only writing about my experiences in my life and it is understandable that your experiences and what works for you is different. I have read a lot of different things on dog behaviour, from books to scientific journals. I have completed a Zoology Degree (haven’t got the certificate yet) and have trained many foster dogs who have stayed with me, but again I have no formal dog training qualification. In saying that, it doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite to creating an empire on dog training, just look at Cesar Milan. He is actually less educated than I am but reaches a huge audience with his training ideas. An article popped up in my news feed about Caesar Milan and the science behind his ideas. It is called “The Damage of the Dog Whisperer: A scientific critique of Cesar Milan’s theories and training methods” and it is really worth reading. It explains how out-dated the view of animals needing a rigid structure in a pack are. This idea by itself isn’t particularly destructive; it’s the ways in which Cesar ‘deals’ with this that is the problem. He believes everything in your life with your pet should be focused on you asserting your dominance over them. Little things like eating before your dog aren’t harmful, but they also aren’t necessary. Then there are the big things that the article goes into detail about, and it just makes me sick. He mistreats scared and anxious dogs and pushes them to be aggressive. I would never be able to treat animals the way he has on many of his TV show episodes. It makes me wonder if he actually connects with animals at all.
I have had so many different dogs in my house, each with their own personality, temperament and problems. My way of helping them is by giving guidelines and lots of love so that they feel safe. I like to explain it as I treat my dogs as I would children. They feel safe here and are allowed to do anything they like, within reason. If they destroy items or aren’t being nice to each other, then they get told off. They sleep on (and in) my bed and yet show no aggressive tendencies or behaviours indicating that they are ‘dominant’. My first rescue Pickles, came with anxiety and timidness but now at age 4 is the happiest little dog in the home environment. She gets intimidated by any raise in voice tone when being told off, so can you imagine what would have happened if I implemented Cesar’s techniques? She would be a scared shell of herself. I would never see her big tail wag or her happy dance when I get home. I would never hear the bark that is only used to get my attention and to me sounds like she’s saying Mum. These things fill my heart with joy every single day and I wouldn’t get to witness them if I hadn’t taken a very gentle loving approach with her. Every foster gets treated the same way here too. They sleep in the kitchen so that the moving process is easier for them but other than that, that are treated like children too. I love them with all my heart and get so much joy from each step towards happiness that they take. My love for my dogs and fosters is what makes the relationship so enjoyable.
I assume if you’re reading this, that you’re a dog lover too and want the best for your dogs. The way your dogs will be happiest is if you treat them like a family member. Give them love, attention and talk to them daily, this will make them a very happy pup. On top of that, give them basic guidelines of what they can and can’t do and more than anything, make them feel safe. Following Caesar Milan’s advice won’t make for a happy pet, and if you’re anything like me it also won’t make for a happy you. There are so many other ways to sort through animal behavioural problems, anxiety and aggressiveness, please find a different way to help your pet. It might take some extra research but you and your pet will be so much better off because of it.
|Pickles and I|