I am witness to so many dedicated, loving, compassionate humans being at their wits end with their dogs behaviour. Wether it’s 1000’s on line in support groups or people I’ve personally helped and/or rehabbed their dogs. Many were going to re-home or euthanize if the training didn’t work.
Occasionally medicating and euthanasia for behaviours are legit. Very occasionally.
The dog world is going through a very big shift, and this I believe is in large part to do with why there are so many dogs killed unnecessarily. Almost no rescue will take a dog with behavioural issues. The BCSPCA kills dogs who are surrendered if they aren’t “good dogs”. They are now accrediting dog trainers, but can’t/won’t/don’t have a program for dogs with behaviour issues. I don’t know which one of those options is truth as trying to get hold of their behaviourist or anyone that will give a straight answer around this is almost impossible.
Old school dog training was mostly aversive. There weren’t treats. But there was definitely affection, but in comparison to today it was minimal. Through that came balanced training, where quite a lot of affection and treats are used as well as aversive. Today we are all about the treats, affection, redirection, using what’s perceived as kinder tools etc.
The pendulum has swung from one end to the other. With a pretty decent understanding of psychology, and going through shift in my life, I have learned new ways of being and swung that thing so hard in the opposite direction. I now understand generally the pendulum will start to slow down and come back to a more balanced place. Because too far right or too far left in my experience is usually not optimal or true.
In the past, I was treating the training world as it is today with the same idea of it coming back to balance sooner or later, which gave me a reason not to worry about it too much. This seemed sensible until the last couple of years where my focus has been rehabilitating dogs that have quite serious issues. Some already on medication, some been taken from the waiting room at the Vet as they lined up to be euthanized and some from owners who have”tried everything else” and now I am their last hope. Sitting in this chair today, my original view now feels like complacency.
For some dogs there is no time to allow the pendulum to come back to balance. Some dogs and their families have already paid a heavy price.
I have gone through many different phases looking at this issue, and like the dog world, my pendulum swung hard for a while. I got angry, I would rant, I would try show people how awful it is…as I swing back into balance I am starting to be able to learn, listen and hopefully soon start to make some headway and educate more and more people about the problems dogs are facing caused (as always) by humans. As usual we are over complicating, creating more unnecessary boxes, and deciding what’s right and wrong based on our ideas, “science based” theories etc rather than how dogs function, communicate and move through the world.
There is this idea out there that “correcting” a dog in training is to use fear or pain. Yet most out there on any part of the spectrum in this know that it’s important for puppies to be with their mum and siblings for a certain amount of time to ensure the right development. A couple of important areas of development are behaviour and social etiquette. How are they taught? Mum gives both affection and correction to teach their babies. And the sibs also do the same. When corrections are given it does not innately create fear. And regardless if the puppy has fearful traits or not, if they are really pushing the boundaries or acting inappropriately she will still correct, creating clarity in what’s good and not good. This will also help in building confidence believe it or not.
As puppies come into adulthood, just like our teens today, things get a little hairy for a while. But if they have been guided through this process in a way that makes sense to them, you’ll see a wonderful adult dog that will be able to help the next generation by giving them boundaries, affection and correction as necessary.
Correction doesn’t cause fear, dogs get afraid by big emotions. They fear our over dominating and/or angry selves. Dogs correct fearful dogs, and in fact if a dog is overly unbalanced in any direction you may see the others being even tougher on them.
If a dog is fearful when you get them or becomes fearful through time or experience and you keep feeding into it (either literally by using treats or otherwise) you are potentially going to make them even more fearful. I’m not saying don’t use treats ever, but unless you know when/what you are treating you are better off not until you seek professional help.
I have had people tell me, sometimes it’s more humane for the dog to be euthanized (of course they weren’t talking about their dog), and I agree, if you refuse to communicate in a way that makes sense to them and are ultimately causing the behaviour and creating endless suffering, it’s more humane.
However, it is NOT humane to get your dog into such a state, or keep a dog (e.g rescue) in such a state due to today’s pendulum swing, idealism and human.
When will we start looking at how many dogs are being killed because of our human BS? 1 dog in over 1000 easy I’ve trained or been a part of their training was legit dangerous to humans due to something being wired wrong. I have rehabilitated dogs that came dangerous, but were in fact it was designed that way by the humans in one way or another (communication issues, human trauma, lack of leadership etc).
There is help. There are brilliant trainers. Sometimes they are the hardest ones to find. Find one. They may not have all the certifications others do, they may be the ones playing, watching and enjoying dogs. The best education you can get is from the source. The right trainer will set you on a path you may not have thought possible and change your lives forever. Your dog will thank you, love you and respect you. But most of all they’ll be enjoying life with you. Their lives should not be reduced to back yard living. They CAN adventure with you again.
And the kicker is, you’ll keep all the love, you will add a few boundaries to keep them feeling relaxed, safe and happy.
Euthanasia and medication are valid for tiniest percentage. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, do your homework. My dogs are alive, and weren’t “supposed” to be.
NB: this speaks generally to different aspects of dog, training and possibilities. It doesn’t go into any detail and certainly doesn’t cover everything,
DOG’S BEFORE TRAINING METHODS.