Love your child punish your dog
What’s going on? Everywhere I go I hear peolple putting up an argument for using punitive methods in dog training. You need to ‘show them who’s boss’ and ‘they’re taking the piss’ are just two of the commenst which are often precursors for a rant on why dogs need to be hit, struck, scared, electrocuted, tingled, pinched and controlled physically by scruffing, alpha rolling and imposing household rules that are as restrictive as any prison regime.
This type of discussion isn’t limited to laymen. Professional dog trainers and scientists alike appear to be locked at the horns in the debate as to whether or not electric collars cause stress or whether they experience pain or startle response. I think you can probably guess my opinions but what difference does it really make? Whether a dog yelps because the stimulation is at a level that you could describe it as ‘pain’ or whether or not the dog has just been ‘startled’ to the extent that it feels the need to vocalise is irrelevant. The experience is more likley to fall into the unpleasant category for the dog and for me, makes it a method I would rather avoid.
I know how these electric games that people often pass around the office make me feel. I know what they are, I know they won’t hurt me but I just don’t like them. I don’t like the sensation but most of all I don’t like the anticipation of the shock. I’m a rough, tough cop with the mental capacity to rationalise and understand my environment and that is how these things make me feel. How would my dog feel if he kept experiencing this ‘stimulation’ but with no concept of what it is or where it came from?
The point of this article though is more of a moral question about our view about animals in general. Why is it that I cannot find one scientific study or one child welfare society advocating the use of punitive methods in dealing with children? Smith et al (2005) clearly shows the damaging effects on physical punishment on the mental and physical welfare of children and I cannot find anyone doing a counter study. I cannot find anyone on child care forums suggesting her work is flawed or missing the point.
Many parents do still use punitive methods on their children but I would suggest that for many they use it as a last resort or only when they lose control and the professional bodies certainly aren’t condoning it. The parents themselves aren’t shouting it from the rooftops and blogging online about their right to train how they like.
So it would appear that the issue is based on our perception of animals. On the whole, as a society we appear not to give animals the same respect and rights we afford ourselves. There is an arrogance in being human that allows many to apply a double standard when it comes to the treatment of their children and their dogs. If you really are concerned about the welfare of all the beasts in your care then perhaps it is time to reassess the morale side of dog ownership rather than defensively fight back to the rising tide of change.