Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It’s not funny – it’s your fault

I have an online friend who, almost daily, mentions her poodle puppy’s naughtiness. He chewed up a couple leashes, he counter-surfed and smashed dinner to the floor. He strewed the nice, clean laundry all over the house. He knocked over some plants.
It’s in line with the “dog shaming” posts that people are uploading – hanging a sign around their dogs’ necks detailing the dog’s supposedly shameful behavior.
I don’t think it’s funny. Any of it. And it’s not the dog’s fault – it’s yours.
If you know your dog is prone to chewing stuff up – why is it loose in the house when you run out for 10 minutes? And why do you act surprised when your own experience has taught you to expect exactly the result you got?
Why don’t you just crate your dog for those 10 minutes and, when you get back, spend another 10 teaching your dog to “leave it?” You spent that much time cleaning up the mess he left.
Don’t these people see what I see? If your dog gets in the garbage every day – don’t take a picture of it and “shame” the dog. You’re just telling us you’re a bad dog owner.
Instead, pay some attention! If you can’t bring yourself to crate the dog when you’re not paying attention, snap on his leash and tie it to your belt loop. If he’s always in sight, you have every opportunity to reward him for being “good.”
Dog training should be about paying attention and teaching your dog how to make good choices. Limit his access to “naughty” behavior and reward behavior you want.
One of my instructors often reminds us of this Albert Einstein quote: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I own my dogs

They are my property and I own them.
I’m not a pet “guardian” or pet “parent.” I paid money to acquire my dogs; I own them, I didn’t adopt them and I can do what I like with them.
Seems rather a harsh statement, doesn’t it? I have good reason for it. Dogs have no rights in our legal system. The law considers them property, so I do, too.
This way I’m the only one with authority over their treatment, care, and whereabouts. I know what’s best for my dogs and try my best to achieve it.
The most prominent “animal rights” organizations have begun referring to pet owners as “pet parents” or “guardians.” I find this very scary. One group is talking now about “adopting” pets, not only from shelters, but from responsible breeders.  I know, having dug deep into the innards of these groups, that their ultimate goal is a world in which humans and animals have no interaction. Their objective is not only a completely vegan human society, but one in which all animals are “left alone.” No pets, no farm animals, no zoos, no animal sanctuaries, no veterinarians. No contact. Completely separate worlds for animals and people.
I don’t know for sure about your dogs, but only one of mine is capable of finding her own food – and she really didn’t care for the rabbit once she’d caught it. None of mine would survive a winter in the wild. You’ll find them curled up in front of the heat vents all winter.
While I do believe that every animal (and person!) should live free from suffering, I don’t think that animals suffer merely by being in human care. I think most pets are appreciated, well-cared-for and indulged. Their lives, as well as those of their owners, are improved by the relationship.
In casual conversation I do refer to my “kids.” But I know they’re not – they’ll never “grow up” to lead independent lives and be taxpayers. I didn’t adopt my dogs – I bought them, under contract. That is our legal relationship. And that’s fine – because I know what’s best for them.