Is It Ethical For People To Train Their Dogs? – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
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There are three reasons why a dog should be trained.

1) Dogs don’t understand what we mean unless we teach them.
2) You have to protect your dog and yourself from people that don’t like dogs.
3) Obedience training can save your dog’s life.

If these reasons aren’t enough to get you to supervise and train your dog, then you shouldn’t own a dog.

There are people that don’t realize that their dogs don’t understand them. Dogs don’t understand what we mean unless we teach them. I’ve solved many aggression problems simply by teaching the owners how to give their dogs commands. In one case, a man wanted his Dalmatian to go outside. He called the dog and the dog ran to the other end of the house. The man went and chased the dog down to the end of a hallway. The dog rolled on its back and urinated. The man then roughly picked up the dog to carry it outside. As you might probably guess, the terrified dog then bit him severely on the right hand. I had to demonstrate to the owner that THE DOG WASN’T OBEDIENCE TRAINED AND DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. The dog was also terrified of his owner. Even after 3 weeks of daily training, the dog wasn’t yet reliably trained off leash. So there’s no way that the dog could have obeyed prior to the training! You can’t expect a dog to do what you want if you don’t Teach and Train them.

There are people that don’t like dogs. The first group of people that don’t like domesticated dogs are the animal rights activists. They believe that animals are better off wild than domesticated. Their arguments are based upon emotional reasoning, not scientific or traditionally moral reasoning. Their ultimate goal is the extinction of all domesticated animals. That’s why they urge you to adopt a dog from a shelter, to feed your dog a vegetarian diet, and why they are always trying to enact laws to stop the breeding of animals. If they had their way, there would never again be a German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever or mixed breed domestic dog. They would have us stop owning and breeding dogs altogether. Many of the animal rights advocates push an agenda that results in the banning of our dogs in natural areas. They believe that the world is for wild animals, not for humans or domesticated animals. That’s why they oppose using dogs for hunting, breeding, hiking, working, companionship, and dog sports. They will put up with people living with dogs, but they are often against training dogs because they feel that it is unnatural. They are against, or uncomfortable with, using Dominance or Corrections when training a dog. Because of their unrealistic viewpoint on the nature and function of the domestic dog, they make it impossible for people to have truly well trained dogs. It is our job to convert the animal rights activists into animal welfare activists. Many of them have a good heart towards animals, they just are going about helping them in the wrong way. I am an animal welfare activist. I believe in promoting the welfare of all animals, domestic and wild. But, I am realistic about how the world works and I am not trying to create a false utopia.

There is a second group of people that just don’t like dogs at all. They aren’t afraid of them, they just don’t like them. People in this group range from those that just can’t relate to a dog, to those that like other animals but not dogs, to those people that are what I call Dog Haters. Some of these people are politicians that use dogs and dog issues to gain political power. In the worst case, the People’s Republic of China banned the ownership of ALL dogs to promote their communist agenda. In other cases, politicians will try to gain public notoriety by using the occasional dog attack to pass a law (for which they will get press coverage) to ban dogs from urban parks. Some folks don’t mind you having a dog, they just don’t want to have anything to do with your dog. However, they don’t want to pet your dog, hear your dog, smell your dog, or have anything to do with helping a dog. On the other extreme, there are the Dog Haters. These people will poison, kick, beat, outlaw or otherwise hurt a dog if they get a chance. They will also show up to community meetings to ban dogs from doing reasonable things. They will make up false accusations just to harm dogs and dog owners. These people want your dog to be perfectly trained and mannered, or they will go after you and your dog. It’s our job to convert the dog haters into dog lovers. This will come by exposing them to well behaved dogs.

The third group that doesn’t like dogs are those people that are afraid of dogs. They range from the person that likes dogs (but is still afraid of them) to the person that phobic (they will either run from a dog or hurt a dog to get the dog away from them: Fight or Flight response). Sometimes, you don’t know whether someone is afraid of your dog until your dog starts to growl at them. Your dog senses their fear behind their façade of friendliness. The growling just makes the person even more afraid and confirms that they have a good reason to be afraid of all dogs. On the other extreme, the phobic person will go out of their way to either get away from your dog, or will come up to you from a distance to verbally assault you. I’ve had several instances where people came up to me from a distance to tell me that they were afraid of dogs. One person even started yelling at me and my dog to get away because they were afraid of dogs! We weren’t doing anything wrong or even attempting to interact with that person! These people will also show up to community meetings to ban dogs from doing reasonable things. They will make up false scenarios just to ban dogs and dog owners from public areas and private residences. These people want your dog to be perfectly trained and mannered, or they will go after you and your dog. We can help these people to overcome their fears by exposing them, but not overwhelming them, with well behaved dogs.

It is important to remember that we have no legal right to own a dog. We must be responsible in our ownership and active in our politics, if we want to preserve the ability to own and live with dogs. By training our dogs thoroughly, we can blunt the criticisms of the dog haters. By properly breeding, training and supervising our dogs, we can and should demonstrate that ANY breed of dog can be a good dog. By responsibly using and creating dog friendly parks, recreational areas, and business establishments, we can make the general public want to preserve the natural habitat of the domestic dog. And by being responsible dog owners and politically active, we can fight the dog haters in the media, legislatures and courts to preserve our companion and working dogs.

The natural habitat of the wolf is in the forests, beaches, plains, deserts and mountains. They survive by their wits and by those things they learn as part of the wolf pack. The natural habitat of the domestic dog is with humans in human environments. Wherever we go and wherever we live, the domestic dog must survive by their wits and by those things that they learn as part of their human pack.

Dogs have been the companions of humans before the beginning of recorded history. There’s no proof that dogs are manmade creations that came from wolves. They are uniquely able to thrive with people. In fact, it would be wrong to tell a dog it can’t live with people. Where is the domestic dog going to go if it can’t live with people? Most dog breeds aren’t equipped to both live with people and live in the wild. In fact, if a dog gets lost and away from people, they will most likely die. A dog is happiest and functions best with human companionship. The domestic dog’s habitat is with people.

In modern society, we must purposefully make a place for our dogs in order for them to survive. Unfortunately, we are crowding our dogs out of our society. In most areas, it’s hard to find a hotel, apartment or condominium that will accept a dog over 25 pounds. The funny thing is, that most dog owners are wealthier than the average person and are willing to pay extra to find a place to stay that takes a dog. In fact, private business owners could make a lot more money if they allowed dogs onto their premises and just charged the owners extra for the privilege. I know I’m willing to pay extra to be able to bring my dog into public and business areas.

It’s also hard to find parks that allow people to Train their dogs off leash. Our dogs NEED the space to learn off leash obedience in public areas, but we rarely allow them the opportunity to do so. It’s no wonder that so many dogs are untrained and anti-social. We don’t give them ample opportunities public opportunities to practice their obedience and social skills. There are also dog bans in many areas. In some cities and countries, it’s illegal or nearly impossible to own certain breeds of dog, regardless of their behavior. Many natural parks ban dogs from their trails and back country.

As a taxpayer and dog owner, I often ask whether it is really necessary to ban dogs from all trails in our National Parks. Couldn’t each major trail and area be analyzed to see if a dog would cause damage or harm? And if not, why not open up some of the trails to dog owners? Surely, there are some trails that could be opened up in almost every park. The only exceptions would be parks like Yellowstone that have dangerous physical (geysers) and animal (grizzly bears) hazards. Why should a dog owner, with a trained dog, be prevented from taking a walk with his or her dog in our National Parks? Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows how much fun, and how happy it makes a dog, to hike with them on a nature trail. In all my years, I have never seen ANY evidence of ANY damage to natural areas by leashed dogs. Why should our dogs be deprived of this happiness? And, why are we paying our tax dollars for OUR PARKS to prevent us from reasonably and safely using them?

With some Parks, it makes no sense for dogs to be banned. For example, Mt. St. Helens, in Washington State was destroyed by a huge volcanic blast. The blast was more powerful than a nuclear bomb. And, it’s predicted that the mountain will blow again in less than 100 years. Every tree within miles was blown down, and will be blown down again with the next blast. It’s just a bunch of dirt. But, dogs are banned beyond the parking lots.

How is it that it was OK with Mt. St. Helens park officials to allow tractors and logging crews to comb the hillsides there to pick up the downed trees, but a dog on a leash is not permitted on the trails? Which does more damage, tractors and logging crews, or a leashed dog on a designated trail? How is it that tractors are used to plow roads, and road crews are permitted to use dynamite to blow through rocks, in order to build miles of roads, visitor centers, and forest service roads? Which does more damage, tractors and road crews, or a leashed dog on a designated trail? Some of the trails are even paved, but dogs are not allowed even on the paved trails! In addition, horses, bicycles, 4-wheel drive pickups, and motocross bikes are allowed in the park, but not dogs! In fact, 1,000 pound domestic horses are allowed in many of our parks and trails. How can a huge animal, like a horse, which eats park grass and plants, and leaves huge piles of dung on our trails, be allowed in our parks, but not our dogs (which weigh far less, defecate far less, and are less likely to do any wear and tear to the grounds)?

Wild animals and wild dogs are allowed in our parks. Foxes, coyotes, and wolves roam freely, kill wildlife and defecate all over our parks with no damage. How in the world is a domestic dog, on a leash, on a designated trail, going to cause more damage than the wildlife that is already in the park?

How is the domestic dog going to be more damaging to our natural areas than:
The Bear: 300 to 600 pounds. Eats park vegetation and other animals. Should we ban the bear?
The Elk: 1,000+ pounds. Hooves damage sensitive park plants, sinking deep into the ground. Destroys trees with antlers. Huge amounts of dung. Should we ban the Elk?
The Buffalo: 2,000 pounds. Walks over sensitive geyser basins at Yellowstone Park, carries diseases that might be contagious to domestic cattle, walks off trails, leaves huge amounts of dung. Should we ban the Buffalo?
Wild Dogs: Wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, and wild dogs run freely, unleashed in parks around the world killing and eating endangered species. Should we ban Wild Dogs from our parks?

In fact, which group of animals would produce the greatest amount of dung on the grounds: the deer, wolves, foxes, marmots, birds, foxes, elk, and moose, or the domestic dogs on the trails? In fact, if the sight and smell and effects of dung is the issue, then why does almost every park have a visitor display that explains why animal waste is so important to the health and vitality of the park?

There is no documented scientific evidence, anywhere in the world, that shows leashed and supervised domestic dogs have ever measurably and significantly damaged any forest, park, beach, habitat, etc. One additional bogus argument why dogs are banned from wilderness areas is because they might scare off the animals that live there. That’s nonsense. YOUR presence on a trail will probably scare the animals as much or more than a leashed dog. Most wild animals are particularly afraid of humans. Wild predators are much more of a threat to the wild animals than your leashed dog. In fact, except at parks like Yellowstone, where people are afraid to go into the wilderness, it’s usually rare to even see most wild animals at all, whether you have a dog or not.

The reason dogs are banned from so many areas is because some people don’t like domesticated animals, because some people don’t like dogs, and because some people are afraid of dogs.

Other problems facing dogs are natural and manmade dangers.

There are many natural enemies of dogs: disease, cliffs, swift streams, other animals, heat, cold, storms, etc. There are also many manmade dangers to dogs: cars, trucks, open pits, chemicals, electric cords, stairs, slippery floors, broken glass, dog laws, etc. When you have a trained dog, you can call them away from these dangers and prevent death or injury.

So, because of the need for survival in our often unfriendly, mechanized human world, we must train and supervise our dogs in order for them to function properly in our society. It’s also important to get involved with dog friendly, science-based animal welfare projects that help make life better for our dogs.