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According to Dr. Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz, DVM, DACVB, CAAB, “Using punishment to stop behaviors is not new. Notice I say ‘stop’ rather than ‘teach’ — I can stop any behavior, but I am more interested in teaching my students, animal or human, to choose the behavior I want them to perform because they can trust me, because I do not hurt them and they are safe with me, and because the outcome is something they enjoy. Mistakes are inherent in any type of learning — if I continually frighten or hurt my students when they get something wrong, eventually they will be afraid to try anything new and will not want to learn from me any longer.
In the news today is the report that a baby girl in Indiana was the victim of an unprovoked attack by the family dog. It’s not unusual to hear this declaration from victims of bites, parents, animal control officers and the media. Even scientific literature lists a lack of provocation as a common reason for biting (sometimes an inference drawn by the authors, at other times simply a repetition of the available data).
Almost all bites are provoked. Dogs are social animals and respond to very subtle cues. We can work to figure out the reasons for a bite, including the likelihood that it was aggravated by anxiety around the baby. There is a danger in concluding that bites are random. If there isn’t a “real” stimulus triggering the aggression, how can it be prevented or managed? The basic premise that bites occur in response to something is exactly…
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Take the challenge, watch the videos without the sound as instructed. Think about what you see, then watch the videos again with the volume turned on. Listen to the people in the background. Allowing children to provoke wild animals in enclosed environments is a form of animal abuse. This type of behavior may support some opinion that captive animals kept in zoological parks does not serve any educational purpose, is purely entertainment and does not encourage respect for other animals and their lives.
I have no problems with that when it’s the photographer or filmmaker who pays the price for this selective attentiveness. But when this orientation causes parents to distance themselves from a reality that could harm their children, then to me it crosses the line into the realm of child neglect. And when adults position their younger children in such a way to provoke an animal or allow…
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