Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sign of the Times

Dog walkers in my local park are outraged at this sign which was put up on the gate last week. I have been dog walking in this park since 1981. A wonderful, beautiful local resource. A huge open space with ancient oak trees, tennis courts, playgrounds and football pitches. It is a lovely open space and dogs have been getting exercise off lead for years without bother... until now.
I can understand fining people £80 for allowing their dog to foul and not pick up after them - fair enough. But to fine them £80 for letting their dog off the leash to have a run? You're having a laugh!
There may have been individual cases of dog aggression, young people in gangs with bull dogs seem to be everywhere these days. Penalising the rest of us is just not fair. Why not bring the problem individuals to justice, and not Mr and Mrs Normal and their elderly Golden Retriever. Actually, you are likely to see more dog to dog aggression if they are always on a leash.

By being on a leash, you may have cut down on their 'fight or flight' options if they feel uncomfortable or threatened by a strange dog. If they are off the leash then their body language is natural and they can show appeasement and run away if necessary. If they are on a leash their body language is strained and more threatening, and you have cut off their option to run away.. so theymay feel that they have to fight if they feel threatened. A sad state of affairs, but a sign of the times I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Modern Thinking

Just look at this dreadful contraption. I found this on sale in a Calais pet shop yesterday. This is a prong collar. It is supposed to inflict pain on a dog so that it obeys your commands. The harder you pull or jerk the leash, the more pain is inflicted on the dog. It doesn't bear thinking about does it?
Modern research and modern training methods are always only kind, fair and reward based. These are not airy-fairy, namby-pamby ideas; the scientific research has proved that if you reward a dog for performing a required task then you substantially increase the likelihood that it will do it again. If you punish the wrong task, then you achieve nothing positive. Your dog will not learn how to behave if you punish them for doing something wrong. Your dog WILL learn how to behave well if you reward the correct behaviour.
If you are looking for a trainer or a behaviourist for your dog, then please look for someone who has recent professional qualifications and experience. Reward based training is the way forward. Rolled up newspapers, threats, shouting, pointing and prong collars are history.