Violence in dog training
What does “violence” mean? Well, for me, using violence is everything that causes pain or suffering to another individual as well as terrifying them. In dog training, this includes practices such as leash pushing, punches, kicks, etc. but also “training equipment” such as vibrating cans, Fisher discs, spiked collars, chain collars, anti-pull harnesses, current pulse devices and much more. Not to be forgotten in this context is the use of psychological violence such as roaring, isolating, deprivation of train inclination, etc. Unfortunately, I have to disappoint those who think that these things have long been a thing of the past in Austria! Partly caused by various television shows, violence in dog training was created a new platform.
Here are some rationally considered reasons why one should absolutely reject the use of violence:
To many people, dog training seems very simple. True to the motto “once on the house, then the dog will never do it again”. However, it is not that simple! In reality, the use of penalty * is highly complex. It follows three laws:
- The punishment must be strong enough to reliably interrupt the behavior (= in any case a violation of the Animal Welfare Act).
- The punishment must ALWAYS be given if the dog shows the undesirable behavior.
- The punishment must be IMMEDIATELY if the dog shows the undesirable behavior.
- The use of penalties * in dog training is practically simple and simply not feasible!
- Danger of incorrect connections
Violence is always related to pain and negative emotions. If you punish the dog, these negative aspects are linked to the entire situation. In this way, the four-legged friend combines everything that is happening around him with pain. So if the dog is looking at a fellow animal when the punishment begins, he learns: dog = pain. In this way, you create unpredictable four-legged friends who suddenly attack “seemingly without foundation” – in fact, however, a wrong connection simply happened. This is quick and has a massive impact. Mislinks are quite easy to prevent if you do not use penalties!
- Emotions & pain
Just like us humans, animals also feel pain and they also have emotions. In this context, you can absolutely equate humans with animals (after all, we are nothing more than mammals …). So if you reject violence against other people, you cannot approve of the use of violence on animals!
- Psychological damage
Using violence on animals is nothing more than ill-treatment. Every abuse, whether physical or psychological, always leaves traces and trauma.
- Loss of trust
The human-dog relationship is unique in this world. No animal binds to humans as closely as dogs do. A relationship that begins with trust is destroyed when violence is used!
- The dog as a protector
Dogs (or animals in general) have no choice, they cannot choose which people they land with. They are protected, who are helplessly handed over to their people. Now everyone should ask the question: do I want to be a person who takes advantage of this dependency relationship? Can I still look at myself in the mirror then?
- Increasing the dog’s propensity to violence
If you use violence in dog training, you put the dog in a position in which he MUST defend himself to avoid pain. Unfortunately, many dog owners / trainers see this as a reason to intervene even harder. Dogs are living beings / individuals like us and not our slaves! You don’t have to do everything with yourself. The use of violence against dogs is one of the most common reasons why biting occurs at all! If you had always treated the dog with respect, it would often not have gotten so far that the four-legged friend had to bite.
So why is there still violence in dog training?
So there are many reasons against using violence. Why is it still used anyway? My subjective assessment is that it happens for the following reasons:
- There are dog owners and dog trainers who actually don’t know better and have to be made aware that there are better ways to raise our beloved four-legged friends! I hope to reach these people with my article! I like to talk to everyone who wants to discuss methods – contact me?
- Violence often happens because of excessive demands. Who does not know that sometimes you can not control your emotions if the dog does not behave in a socially desirable way and maybe loses it again because he sees another dog? The use of violence is always the worst possible way to improve the situation. My tip: contact a dog trainer you trust and get advice. From the outside, it is much easier to assess a situation and show alternatives! A short consultation can be enough and does not cost the world. I also always seek help from various coaches because I myself am too “close” to see a solution.
- Finally, there are dog owners and dog trainers who know other methods but continue to use violence. For me, the question arises as to what fears these people have to face themselves: are they really afraid that the dog will take control of their lives? Are you afraid of losing control? Is it really about the dog or about living out a relationship?
As mentioned above, it is a very emotional topic for me. It is very stressful for me to see how some dog owners and dog trainers deal with dogs. So what can you do? I think you have to stay tuned, try your best to educate and intervene in bad cases!
- For the sake of simplicity, I am writing “punishment” in this context. What is meant is the use of positive punishment from a learning theory perspective.