November 4, 2009
Joyce Kesling, CDBC
I’m beginning to read Alexandra Horowitz’s new book “Inside Of A Dog…” including her “prelude” and “prefatory note…” and couldn’t help but be reminded of a earlier blog when I suggested dog owners marginalize dogs, their behavior, and those who study dogs (Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?). Most specifically those most equipped to help in problem solving. According to Horowitz, the “prevailing view of behavioral scientists” suggested there was no data to be obtained from the study of dogs. Primates remained the species of choice studying animal cognition. She says further “dog owners seemed to have already covered the territory of theorizing about the dog mind…theories generated from anecdotes and misapplied anthropomorphisms.”
Why do we ignore our part when a problem occurs within the human-dog relationship? Why do dog owners continue to ignore how influential a dog behaviorist is, not only preventing problems but also resolving problems without creating more conflict?
I suggested in “Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?” the following could be contributing to the continued neglect and importance placed on resolving dog behavior problems.
Some of the most easily identified, as cause and effect are the following examples.
- Too much self-help on the internet – recipes to train and problem solve
- Dog training and problem solving made easy by TV dog trainers while sitting on one’s couch
- Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free telephone call in support
- Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free downloaded “recipes” for problem solving
- Myths and anecdotal information and experience incorrectly interpreted
- Lack of knowledge and understanding about normal dog behavior
- Misunderstanding of dog-human relationships
- Unskilled dog trainers lacking sufficient knowledge in behavior
- Publics general awareness and importance using credentialed professionals at both levels, dog trainers and behaviorist
- Misunderstanding dogs in general
Several of these causes suggest a general lack of seriousness by owners, shelters, rescues and some instances the veterinary community. We think so little of our part in the equation; we further fail when we do not acknowledge both physiological and mental health is closely linked.
We further marginalize the process offering solutions to “fix the dog” in the worst way via internet and/or TV dog training programs. In most instances, owners need counseling, offering training solutions, in many instances, choosing painful punishment i.e. e-stimulus (shock collars) collars without first getting a behavior evaluation and history. To do otherwise suggest dogs and cats are automatons and applying fixed general rules and/or training are applicable to all situations, environments, and families/owners. It is simply not that easy. If our current system is working, why do we continue to see millions of dogs and cats relinquished and euthanized because of behavior problems?
Responsible Dog and Cat
Training and Behavior Solutions
Combining Art and Science for Training Animals
Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC
Certified Dog Behaviorist
Professional Dog Trainer
P.O. Box 15992
Sarasota, Florida 34277
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009