We say we love them – remember their birthdays or “gotcha days”. We buy them special collars, matching leashes and new spiffy bowels. We research the best food for their different stages of life and ensure their favorite treats are always on hand. We buy orthopedic dog beds or we sleep as contortionists to ensure they are comfortable in our beds. All in the name of love. We DO love our dogs. So, the question begging to be asked. “Why?” Why do we rain down pain on we the animals we profess to love in the name of training? I don’t believe it is because people are bad or by nature, sadistic. Rather, they have been lied to, mislead. They are not aware of the consequences of this aversive behavior towards their dogs. They don’t know there is a better way. I assure you, there is a better way, and it is called rewards based training. Instead of hurting dogs when they show us undesirable behaviors, we reward them for the behaviors we do want. Given a choice I do believe people want to shower their dogs with treats instead of a shock collar, or a jerk on the leash. They desperately want to deepen and enrich their relationships with these magnificent creatures. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”. I say to you, look at how aversive methods affect your dog. Think about how they must feel. If you think they look painful, you are right. Let’s DO better! Please reach out and find a REWARDS based trainer. Ask the all important question, “how will you motivate my dog?” Deepen your relationship with your dog, watch the bond between you blossom. If you are not sure where to find a rewards based trainer, below is a link to resources and lists of trainers who have committed to and taken an oath to train your dog with respect and passion. Check it out, you and your dog will be so glad you did.
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Kathleen McClure is an animal advocate and owner of The Happier Dog