It was a bright and beautiful day in Prescott and another start to a series of free dog training classes at the Yavapai Humane Society. Everyone was moving right along with the heel command. As I turned to around, I witnessed a powerful lab pulling his owner out of the receiving building. I heard a large “thump” and in one swift motion, a hand was raised up and came across the dog’s head again- hard.
The class came to a halt. Shocking as it was to see, this was the second time in a week I witnessed someone hitting their dog. The man had explained that his dog ran away and that was the reason why he felt it was necessary to hit his lab. I asked if he built a fence and he said that he just did. Still however, he was not understanding that his dog having spent 24 hrs. in the receiving building, had no idea what he did wrong.
The week before at the dog park, another man hit his dog twice for trying to run through the gate. I believe it’s not to deem these folks as being bad but they just have not received the proper understanding about dog psychology and behavior and an insight into how their own behavior effects animals in these circumstances. Hitting a dog or any living, breathing thing, does not constitute to them that they did something wrong. The association with physical harm comes out in fear, anxiety, depression and even sometimes severe aggression.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of dogs that have been abused. One dog that I have worked with, was hit so badly she lost her hearing and ended up biting 4 people, deaf and taking complete control over a house. She was so reactive towards hands, brooms and other things that merely saying hi to someone could trigger an attack. This was not her fault, yet the fault of someone who thought perhaps that by physically harming her, this would teach her a lesson. Obviously, all it did was teach her to bite- including people who fed and took care of her.
We, as human beings have a responsibility to treat all creatures with the dignity and respect they deserve. It is out of good faith that we take the pleasure in having these animals in our lives whether to assist us with our work, to comfort us when we have a bad day or to be happy to see us when we get home. I should hope that most people feel the same way.
There are many free resources out there to help people deal with anger and learn better skills as parents. Animal abuse as well as child and spousal abuse has been shown in research studies to be linked together.
If, for any reason you are having a hard time with your dog and feel the need to psychically punish them, first seek out a local dog training class. There are many professional dog trainers willing and qualified to teach you new skills that will be far more effective. Secondly, many communities provide free anger management courses and even talking to a local counselor or therapist can provide you with effective tools to relinquish anger in healthy forms so that you can live a much more peaceful and productive life.
If you or someone you know witnesses an act of animal abuse, please contact the local authorities. You could not only be saving the life of a dog, cat, horse, etc. but also preventing further abuse to a child or spouse.
For some people hitting their dog is a knee-jerk reaction but it doesn’t have to be. Some of the people I respect the most are those that are willing to look at certain patterns in their life and are willing to change them. We need these people in our communites to lead by example. If they can do it, the inspiration can lead to a friend or co-worker who has a similar approach to these problems.
Remember that every bad dog deserves a good owner. Through a new set of skills, (one being physical exercise that is appropriate for your pet) you can make your dog into a super dog. Thanks for reading…