These three innovations have left dog owners in difficulty:
The body harness.
Fanatic-like dedication to “gentle methods”.
The body harness is for sled dogs to encourage that they pull better. Obviously this tool is not a solution for dogs that walk poorly on the leash. But after a person puts a collar around their dog’s neck and the dog resists, they quickly decide it is not “gentle” and are convinced by the priests of gentleness to use the harness.
The extenda-leash removes authority and responsibility from the dog owner as their pet roams meters away, crossing hither and thither, making every decision for itself as if the owner was irrelevant.
Nobody is more aware of the need to create and maintain a gentle trust between owner and dog than I am. But too much, or unnecessary gentleness will be interpreted as weakness by many dogs. Weakness translates into a lack of respect and the unlikelihood that the dog will respond well to your commands, even if she understands the commands and is well trained. So the amount of gentleness depends on the character of the dog, so we cannot be restrained by preconceptions about how gentle we ought to be, and instead must figure out how gentle can we be and still get results. I have never had to be cruel or hurt dogs in order to train them. Although certain situations require a method that is more physical than other situations. It depends on the dogs attitudes towards the many areas where it might want to have its own way more than it is willing to accept our way.
If we as a species have been too uncivilized with our dogs in the past, then the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. “Gentle methods”, are fine when your dog has the personality for them, but in this current environment the word “gentle” has no meaning, and has instead become a threat against anyone who doesn’t do what the most fanatical among us considers “gentle”.
The Swiss government has gone too far and has outlawed tools like the choke collar that can be critical in the rehabilitation of a difficult dog. Is Italy next? This leaves many owners desperate and miserable. They love their dogs but can’t use effective tools to control its exaggerated personality.
Unreasonable standards for being “gentle” are too demanding for the average person. People with high energy or dominant dogs will slowly become prisoners to their dog’s problems. This “gentle” trend does not respect what a dog is and will result in fewer adoptions and more abandonments.
Instead of worshipping ignorance, learn what a dog really is, respect that, build a new relationship, and enjoy your dog.
By Breon O'Farrell