Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Media Mauls Dogs First, then Snaps Back at Actor

This is a really interesting article. I was relieved when I read it. I remembered seeing the news accounts accusing Ving Rhames' dogs of killing his friend and thinking that it just didn't sound right, it didn't sound likely, and the media reports smacked of sensationalism. Well, I was right. It was another media witch hunt attempting to scare the public into thinking that all large dogs are vicious and could snap at any moment. Sort of like that CNN report last week where they claimed that the stray dogs outside their studio were thirsty for human blood. Please ..... I'm so tired of the fear mongering, baseless accusations and profound ignorance.

Domestic dogs are not born dangerous. They are domestic because of their ability to bond with and accept humans as their pack leaders, because of their social behavior and their ability to adapt to our needs in a symbiotic relationship. Irresponsible and ignorant people create dangerous dogs. We also often label perfectly normal dogs as aggressive, when in fact their behavior is a reasonable reaction to a specific stimulus, that we may or may not be aware of. The incidence of dogs with a neurological problem that makes them truly dangerous without hope of rehabilitation is incredibly low. Almost all dogs that are euthanized for aggression have been mis-labeled as unsavable, unadoptable etc. when in fact, what these dogs suffer from is undesirable behavior that has been created and fostered by a human being, through mis-understanding, mis-treatment or neglect. While cases of mis-treatment and neglect make it to the news more often than you can shake a stick at, the most common problem in this country is a thorough mis-understanding on the part of humans when it comes to their dogs.

Rather than go into great detail here, I'm going to strongly suggest visiting Cesar Millan's web site (it's linked on the right hand side of this page) or checking out some of his books or DVD's from the library. I have done a lot of reading on dog training, relating to dogs, raising puppies, correcting behaviors etc ... some of it helpful, some not so helpful ... but Cesar hits the nail right on the head. He understands dogs and pack dynamics and he understands how humans and dogs can co-exist and he shares the information with the rest of us. I do not have Cesar's natural skill or talent, but even having a few basic insights makes a huge difference in my relationship with my dog. It allows me to be a better, more responsible dog owner and it allows my dog and I to have a much stronger bond, because I understand him (make no mistake, dogs don't have any trouble understanding us better than we understand ourselves!).

Once you have the basics, training your dog, preventing undesirable behavior and focusing on desirable behavior is so much easier, sometimes, not even necessary. A happy, well balanced dog with a strong leader, seldom develops behavioral problems because they are looking to their leader for direction rather than challenging them for dominance.

Well, I could go on and on (and I'm sure I will in another post) but I'm out of time for now :)

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