I Wish We Could Save Them All.
I kind of wish people had to pass a test regarding breed knowledge and get a certificate in order to own a dog of any kind. It makes me really sad when I see dogs whose needs are not being met or dogs who are simply lawn ornaments, fed, watered but ultimately ignored and left outside all the time with minimal human interaction. Why bother even having a dog?
|Eyes are the windows to the soul. Dante is my gentle boy.|
In the past it was popular for families to have a dog to watch the house, guard the property/livestock, and alert the family to visitors. Sure they loved the dog but the dog was a replaceable asset. Over time people have started to get away from the backyard ownership trend but society still has a long way to go. Science has shown that dogs bond better with their families, are more balanced and socialized, and emotionally need the support of a family unit to be happy. Dog's have feelings and emotions just not in the same way as humans. Professor Gregory Burns - Canine Emotions They should be respected, and treated in a loving manner. You can't possibly be a dog lover if your choice of training involves abuse.
Humans who shouldn't have dogs:
The Macho Man. My dog is stronger/bigger than your dog.
These are the people who want a Rottie, "Pit Bull" type dog, Doberman, German Shepard, etc.. just because the dog looks scary and makes them feel like a more powerful individual because they own this dog breed. These owners tend to keep the dog in the backyard, these dogs are generally under-socialized because the owner is incapable of walking them, they use tools like prong collars, chokes, and shock collars. These owners participate in aversive training techniques punishing the dog for his bad behavior, and may in fact be physical with their dog: hit, kick, yell curse words when the dog doesn't "behave"..etc.
Lack of socialization, aversive training techniques and abuse can lead some animals to aggression and others to anxiety and major fear regarding humans, their surroundings, and resources.
The In-Denial. My dog doesn't need training.
Don't worry he's friendly! This is the mantra of the dog owner who refuses to take responsibility for the actions of their dog, often allowing their dog to hang out off-leash. These dog owners feel that their dog is a good dog, would never harm anyone or any dog, and any altercation that occurs is 100% not their dog's fault. These dogs have not been properly socialized and may in fact have dog aggression issues that go unsolved. These dogs are often out of control, they rule their home and may show possessive behaviors such as resource guarding and food aggression. They don't respect human space often jumping on unsuspecting humans without mercy, they drag their owners around on a leash if they are wearing one. They may bark incessantly until they are given what they want, and often seem to be overweight due to their humans love for treating them.
This is an owner whose dog is simply an accessory. These dogs are typically jealous and possessive of their human servants, generally small - these dogs also suffer from anxiety, yappiness, and have been known to bite, which is always excused by said owner.
These owners prefer to carry rather than walk the dog, so the dog ends up under exercised, lacking in social skills, and why bother training him when you can just pick him up when he's being naughty?
These are the owners you hear coming. They repeat commands over and over and over...they are rarely physical towards their dog but profanities and the word "No", are common words in their vocabulary. These owners attempt to control their dog through verbal discipline and loud noises. Certain tones used send pets slinking away because they know it's time to go hide from the Yeller.
It's just a dog.
These owners honestly believe that their dog should behave in the manner of a robot. Using aversive techniques because it's the only way their dog can possibly learn a new behavior these owners expect perfect obedience in an instant with no room for error on the behalf of the dog. Most of these dogs that I've met are broken empty shells, excitement is punished, submissive behavior is looked upon with disgust, they are over looked and ignored unless they step out of line.
Dog at LargeThis weekend started off with a bang. My hubby came home to announce he was heading back down the street to help corral a lost dog. He explained that some good Samaritans were trying to catch the dog - and the dog clearly did not want to be caught so grabbing him may result in a bite. He wanted to step in and take over the situation to prevent anyone from getting hurt, including the dog.
Well, I couldn't be left out so we grabbed our slip leash, loaded up on treats and went for a walk!
Sure enough he was right where we though he would be. If you can imagine a yellow Rottweiler that is what he looked like. A big male Rottie/Yellow lab mix, he was curious about the people but any approach in his direction caused him to jump backwards fast in an effort to not be caught. The Good Samaritans called Animal Control who was of course not open and wouldn't be until Monday but a police officer was on his way.
|Not the actual dog, sadly I did not get a picture.|
Hubby started tossing treats at the big boy, talking softly to him and working to develop some trust seeing how close he could get in a positive manner. We were very careful to move slowly so as not to spook him, and watched his body language closely to figure out what kind of a personality we were dealing with.
What we saw was a hungry dog, he loved the treats and began taking them from my hubby's hand very gently but quick - he did not want to be caught, and showed lots of stress and anxiety. Any movement of the leash made him really nervous so I enlisted the help of some neighbors to use their backyard. We opened the gate and the hubby lured him into the yard with treats so that we could hold onto him and keep him from running up the highway until we could figure out what to do.
This poor guy was clearly not socialized, a bit underweight, and his aversion to humans, human touch, and fear of the leash led us to believe that he may be abused at home, or at least hit/punished by his family. But he had a huge desire to please, and although he was nervous you could see a wonderful personality under the anxiety. He was gentle regarding the food, and never hackled or barked at us.
He started to bond with the hubby who began to use shaping techniques to make him work for treats instead of just feeding him. Within a few minutes of rewards the boy figured out that laying down in front of hubby meant he'd get a treat, as long as the leash stayed out of it he didn't mind being close.
The officer eventually showed up and was happy to let us handle the situation. My hubby was making good progress with the dog so I watched through the fence with the officer and our neighbors whose yard we had trapped the dog in. Thankfully the dog was wearing tags so we could try to reach his family, but unfortunately the dog was not comfortable with being touched.
We had a couple different people suggest grabbing the collar, why not?
Well that is how you get bit and it would be your fault!
Not a "Pit Bull"
As the neighbors were looking at him it was clear he was a mutt but we still had a couple people call him a "pit bull". We quickly nipped that in the bud. Please don't call all mutt's pit bulls! He was a large breed dog but clearly some sort of lab mix and we were pretty positive he had Rottweiler in him based on his body style and giant Rottie type head that is rather distinguishable..
Hubby quickly realized that the leash was just not going to be a good option because he didn't want to damage all the trust he had been building with the dog. After about an hour of conditioning/shaping exercises hubby was able to start touching the dog gently and rewarding him for allowing himself to be touched, but fast movement sent him jumping backwards.
On a good note he was getting very comfortable with everyone around him and didn't seem to mind us watching quietly - especially my hubby, he ran a few zoomies in the backyard, his facial expressions and ears began to relax and when he retreated to a safe distance it wasn't as far and he came back quicker.
Eventually those of us watching moved inside the house and opened the door to the house to see what he'd do. He came in trotted around quickly sniffed all of us and went back outside with hubby. A bit more work but still not grabbing him - hubby was eventually able to read the city license on his collar and the office called it in.
I hate it when I'm right...
Sure enough a very stereotypical owner showed up for his dog. He was wary of talking to the officer, overweight with long grungy hair and beard, not terribly thrilled that we had found his dog, and sure enough his dog regularly escapes his yard. The Macho Man.
On a high note right before he was dragged off by his owner the dog whose name turned out to be Rebel, jumped up on my hubby and gave him a kiss.
We were sad to see him go home, I can only hope our fears are wrong and that they love him.
In the meantime we can offer our help to those having training difficulties, and attempt to educate people regarding responsible dog ownership and breed knowledge. Not every dog is for every person.
More Sources on Dog Emotions:
Dogs Have Feelings Too - Professor Gregory Burns
Huffington Post - Professor Gregory Burns
Do Animals Have Emotions? Of Course They Do! - Marc Bekoff
Dogs Can Be Optimistic or Pessimistic - Professor Mike Mendl