Mark's Dog Blog

What does the future hold for dog ownership?

What does the future hold for dog ownership?

Where is society heading, and what does the future hold in regards to our relationship with the domesticated dog?

We have an extremist and fanatical element pushing false and misleading information for no other reason than to push an emotive agenda, and this is apparently ok by societies standards now. The truth doesn't matter any more. Using emotion to push false and misleading claims to get a point across is apparently more acceptable and believable than observable and verifiable facts in today's society. The world is going crazy, with all of the bans on dog training equipment being enforced, and trying to suppress and even outlaw training methods, and ALL based on a lie. The pet dog owner is being preyed upon by an extremist element, and many are too blind to see it. Society is being pushed from training dogs, to management principles, and this alone is going to be the downfall for the future of dog ownership.

I work with dogs and their owners because I love what I do, as do the thousands of other more balanced trainers around the world. We love dogs just as much as people that support other ideological views, such as positive-only and force-free, and we are all extremely passionate. Yet these extremist groups try to make out that we (that don't follow their ideology) are nothing more than dog abuses. And the worst thing is, they don't have to prove it, as speaking at an emotional level to pull on people heart strings is all that is required now as proof. Illogical views based purely on emotion has become the basis on which facts are now judged and accepted.

If we are not very careful, and don't start opening our eyes to verifiable proof and not the emotive rhetoric pushed to advance an agenda, our dogs are the ones that will suffer. They actually are already suffering now.

  • More dogs than ever before are pushed on to psychotropic medication, for behaviours that can be addressed by more natural means.
  • More dogs than ever before are being handed over to animal welfare and rescue groups because of behaviours that can be addressed, by a more open and balanced approach to training and behaviour modification
  • And sadly, more dogs than ever before are being put to sleep for behavioural problems that can most certainly be addressed if we only had a more open and accepting view on training methods.

Why has an agenda based on nothing but pure emotion had such a major influence on our relationship with dogs? Wherever the law ends up, and no mater which tools are banned or methods outlawed, I will always work with dogs, helping dog owners to the best of my ability to have more balanced and harmonious relationships with their dogs. What I fear more than anything, is that my options for helping dogs and their owners will become more and more restricted, and therefore limiting my options to help, and therefore the less dogs I will be able to help rehabilitate, and therefore the more dogs that will become just another statistic of one of the groups listed above.

What amazes me, is that all this emotive rhetoric is focused only toward the pet dog owner and trainer. They are the ones that are considered abusive for using tools these extremist groups don't agree with, and yet professional departments that train and work with dogs are left alone. One of the major spokespersons for these extremist groups, Victoria Stilwell spent months following Police Canine Units around, and commented on how well trained these dogs were, and how the handlers and dogs have such strong bonds. And yet pet owners that follow the same training philosophy, she considers them abusive and inhumane. Why this double standard, and where is the logic in her beliefs? Surely if pet dog owners use abusive methods, then those law enforcement dog trainers must also be abusive. Wouldn't this make more logical sense? In Toronto, Canada, there was a bill passed to ban collars such as correction chains and prong collars (which for the meantime has been repealed), and yet law enforcement and military were to be exempt from this law. In Florida USA, they are trying to pass a law that all dog trainers must be licensed and only adopt the positive-only methodology to train dogs, and yet again law enforcement and military will be exempt.  Why all these double standards, they don't make any logical sense, do they? Why is it that so-called professional dog trainers that push the positive-only agenda, such a Victoria Stilwell, and Councils such as in Toronto and Florida, consider these tools inhumane, and yet its totally acceptable for law enforcement and military to use them? Don't their views show that these decisions on banning training methods and tools have no basis for the banning decision, other than pure emotion, and that there is no scientific backing to support the decisions.

I have posted this graph before, however it is an important one, in that is shows the dramatic increase in hospitalisations for dog bites in Victoria, Australia over a 15 year period, from 1999 to 2014. Positive-only methodology only started becoming popular around 15 years ago, and as it has become more and more popular over the years, look at how the numbers of dog bite hospitalisations have continually increased over this period as well.
Also as stated, more and more dogs are being pushed on to psychotropic medication for behavioural issues, for what are now termed mental disorders. These issues are no longer considered linked to environmental reasons.  Many if not most unacceptable behaviours are now considered to be caused directly by mental disorders in dogs. Again dog owners are being fed a lie, for no other reason than to support pharmaceutical companies, and those Vet Behaviourists that push and sell their drugs.

In my opinion pharmaceutical companies and Vet Behaviourists have a vested interest in making sure that positive-only training methodology is the main training ideology accepted, and why methods that condition avoidance of unwanted behaviours are to be outlawed. Methods that are proven to be a lot more successful at modifying unwanted behaviours, and dealing with environmentally caused anxiety issues, are not in their best interest, and therefore must be eradicated. Every behavioural issue now needs to be labelled a 'disorder', to help push their agenda for no other logical reason than for financial gain. This isn't about caring for our dogs, as much as they would like you to believe it is.

Extremist animal rights and liberationists groups such a PETA, also have a vested interest in keeping a hold of the positive-only ideology, as their long term plan is to end the ownership of all domestic pets, including dogs. Their members have infiltrated in to the extremist and fanatical positive only groups, and animal welfare organisations such as RSPCA, ASPCA, HSUS, and also our governments. PETA are the largest killers of dogs on the planet. All you need to do is search on Google to see their shocking history in regards to so-called animal welfare!

I have been working professionally with dogs since 1981, and have personally seen the change in our dogs over this period. Anxiety in dogs has become an epidemic. When I first started out, I hardly ever came across dogs with extreme anxiety issues. The main reason for this, was because dog owners followed training principles that were more balanced, and not one-sided. Dog owners weren't afraid to discipline dogs, and to set and enforce rules and boundaries, as this is what they were taught by professional dog trainers. Now just even the thought of punishing a dog sends people in to a frenzy, screaming out "ABUSE!" The new rule in regards to dog ownership has become "Death before discomfort", as this is the path it is currently on. You only need to open your eyes to see this is happening... Doping dogs up on drugs or putting them to sleep has become the fix-all, when positive-only methods have little to no affect.

It's time that ALL dog lovers opened their eyes, and understood what's going on in our world before it does become to late. Not sit back believing all the emotive rhetoric from these extremist groups, that isn't supported by ANY credible scientific study. You will often hear positive-only fanatics and extremists say that their methods are supported by science, and yet they are never able to produce any 'credible' scientific evidence to support their claims. They will falsely inform you that dominance theory is a myth, and yet the evidence for it is all around us to see. They will state that using positive punishment in training and modifying behaviours will do nothing but instil fear, aggression, anxiety, and destroy your bond with your dog, when in fact there is no evidence to support their claims. Sure, any type of abuse will damage your relationship with your dog, and affect it psychologically on many levels, but we are not discussing abuse here!

Stop listening to all the rubbish these fanatic positive-only groups, animal welfare extremists, and pharmaceutical companies and those the push their drugs, are falsely telling you. We need to get back to listening to our dogs, respecting who and what they are. We need to respect their natural instincts that have ensured their survival for 100's of thousands if not millions of years. Animals that live by their natural instincts don't suffer mental disorders. We alone have over the past 15 years created an epidemic of dogs with anxiety related issues, all because we have turned our backs on them, believing that controlled laboratory studies on animal behaviour has all the answers, when in fact they don't. They have in many cases caused nothing but a major backward step in our understanding of canine behaviour. Sure training methods have evolved, but they weren't meant to evolve so that the pendulum swung all the way in one direction. No matter what controlled laboratory studies tell us, just because Skinner got pigeons to play table tennis in his isolated Skinner box, or because Orcas are trained with what 'appears' to be positive-only methods that are carried out in isolated and totally controlled environments, is not true behavioural science that allows for us to understand an animals interaction with its natural environment and within social groups. You cannot isolate an animal from its environment and its natural instincts, study it, and believe you have all the answers.

Let's get back to focusing on our dogs, and respecting who and what they are. That's all they ask from us.

5 pointers for a calm well-balanced puppy
My response to Vet Behaviourist Dr Kersti Seksel

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