Dogs in the News Fetching you all the latest canine headlines
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    February 18th, 2014Laura P (Editor)Articles

    A special ‘Flood Fund’ has been set up by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT), for those dogs that are in need as a result of the recent floods that have beset the country.

    The flooding has meant that some people and their dogs have had to leave their homes, whilst others are left marooned and the dogs may be going without food supplies, access to critical veterinary care or medicines. The debris underfoot and ever rising water levels may also be causing dogs injury and damage.

    The Kennel Club Charitable Trust Flood Fund will enable people to donate to dogs that have become victims of the flooding and for those in need to apply for a grant.

    Mike Townsend, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by the terrible floods. The Flood Fund will help support those dogs that have been injured or that need shelter in these difficult times and we urge those who want to make a financial contribution and those who are in need of help to come forward.”

    Those who would like to donate to the Flood Fund, by cheque or debit card, or apply for a grant to help a dog or dogs that have become victims of the flooding, should contact Richard Fairlamb, KCCT Administrator, at 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB. He can also be reached by email at richard.fairlamb@thekennelclub.org.uk, or by phone on 020 7518 6874.

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    January 28th, 2014Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Update 3 Feb 2014: The storyline has gone ahead. However, both a petition and an Early Day Motion have been set up to encourage the BBC to handle the issue responsibly. If you’re concerned by anything you see, please sign one and encourage your MP to support the other.

    ~*~*~

    Last Wednesday, we posted about an upcoming Eastender’s storyline.

    The show, which is due to air at 7:30pm on BBC1, Tuesday 28th January, has released spoiler images of Lady Di, the show’s resident Bulldog, wearing large pink pants. This was revealed to be part of a plot line where the family who own her realise how much money they can make from selling purebred puppies – the pants are an attempt to prevent her from mating with an unsuitable partner.

    Dog lovers all over the internet expressed their disbelief that the popular soap would condone such actions, particularly within the current pedigree dog climate. At the time, we tweeted to @EastEndersPress: “Appalled to see that you’re condoning breeding a dog for money in an upcoming storyline. This is a huge welfare issue which many charities are currently campaigning to end. How can you trivialize this and undermine all their hard work?”

    We also complained formally through the BBC website. We recently received the following reply, which, based on various comments on Facebook pages, is a stock reply which has been sent out to everyone who did so.

    “We understand you are unhappy with the current storyline involving Bulldog breeding.

    Whilst breeding Lady Di for money is mooted within the Carter family, they soon find out she’s been impregnated by Abi’s dog, Tramp, which is a Bearded Collie cross. She eventually has non-pedigree puppies which are sold, but for very modest sums of money.

    The issues surrounding the ethics of breeding Bulldogs are addressed in a later episode in this storyline.

    Nonetheless, we appreciate your feedback on this matter and would like to assure you that we’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including the programme team and senior management. The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us. Kind Regards, BBC Complaints

    So, in short, the storyline is to go ahead.

    Not only is the show condoning irresponsible breeding, but they are also demonstrating a lax attitude towards responsible dog ownership; the Carters were paying so little attention to their dog that they had no idea she had mated with a neighbourhood mutt. We just hope they don’t call the pups “Collie-Bulls” and start a trend for highly intelligent and active brachycephalic cross breeds! (Unusually, Jemima Harrison of Pedigree Dogs Exposed has been very quiet on this issue.)

    We’ll see how they handle the issue in the coming weeks. If you’re upset by anything you see, do let us (and Ofcom!) know.

    The Kennel Club have written an Open Letter to the BBC themselves, to complain about the mooted storyline. We have no idea if they received the same stock reply as we did, but we’ll keep you updated.

    The Mayhew has issued their own statement on the issue also.

    What do you think? Is this storyline a welfare disaster waiting to happen? Or could it shed some interesting light on a current topic? 

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    January 22nd, 2014Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Dog welfare organisations Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club are supporting Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon, who is calling for a ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars during a Ten Minute Rule Bill presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday 22ndJanuary.

    The Ten Minute Rule Bill follows the publication of two pieces of research, funded by Defra and published last summer by the University of Lincoln, which show that electric shock collars can cause negative behavioural and physiological changes in dogs and are open to misuse by users of these devices.

    Although banned by the Welsh government in 2010, electric shock collars are used widely in the UK, with over 300,000 reportedly in use in 2012. They are worn around a dog’s neck and work by delivering a short or prolonged electric shock to the dog (either via a remote control or delivered automatically) to ‘correct’ an undesirable behaviour.

    Both Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club are against the use of negative training methods or devices and believe the use of electric shock collars is both irresponsible and ineffective.  Every dog should be trained using kind, fair and reward-based methods which are effectively used to train dogs by the police, the army and assistance dog charities, which have some of the best trained dogs in the world.  Defra’s research found that positive reinforcement is just as effective in treating behavioural issues in dogs, including livestock chasing, which is often the main justification given for their use.

    Matthew Offord and MaxMatthew Offord MP explains: “The reason I am raising this issue is because Defra is continuing to ignore its own research.  In 2013, Defra published its two studies which showed that electric shock collars can cause some dogs negative welfare issues even when trained by a professional using “relatively benign training programmes”, so therefore many would deem them unsafe. Very few people who buy these devices would have the skill set of an experienced training and behaviour advisor, so there would surely be a heightened chance of long-term negative impacts.

    Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club have long campaigned for the sale and use of electric shock collars to be banned as numerous pieces of research, including the most recent Defra studies, have shown that they can have a negative effect on dog welfare.

    “As a dog will have no idea what has caused the pain, it is far more likely to associate it with something in its immediate environment than to connect it with its own behaviour at the time. This is why cases of dogs attacking other dogs, their owner, or another animal close by at the time of the shock are common. Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club believe positive training methods have a greater influence over a dog’s behaviour than electric shock collars without ever compromising the dog’s health and well-being or the bond between an owner and their dog.”

    We will, of course, keep you updated with all the latest developments.

    See also:
    Garmin shocks dog lovers with new line of collars
    Corporal punishment is never the answer
    The Shocking Truth About Electric Shock Collars and My Call to Have Them Banned by Matthew Offord

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    February 6th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Most news sources today are focusing on the recent announcement of compulsory microchipping  to be implemented by 2016.

    However, it is important to note that the same Defra consultation also focused on the Dangerous Dogs Act and that changes are due there as well. 

    “The Government also announced plans to extend the scope of the Dangerous Dogs Act to private places and to allow police to decide if dogs seized under the Act can stay with their owners until the outcome of the court case, removing the need for these dogs to be kennelled.” 1

    What the consultation did not address was the aspect of breed specific legislation – it appears that this will continue in it’s current form for the time being, with no breeds added to or removed from the list.

    Defra secretary Owen Paterson said that after considering advice from the police, the ban on four breeds – the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero – will remain in place “to protect the public”. Paterson added: “The Government’s approach is one of tackling both deed and breed.”

    Peter Jones, BVA President, said: “The Dangerous Dogs Act is woefully inadequate and needs a complete overhaul. However, in the absence of new legislation we do welcome these changes to extend the law to private property and to allow some dogs to stay with their owners during court proceedings.

    “Extending the law to cover private places sends a strong message that dogs much be kept under control at all times and reinforces the message of responsible ownership.

    “We hope that allowing dogs to stay with their owners during court proceedings will significantly reduce the number of innocent dogs unnecessarily kennelled by the police simply because of the way they look.””  Previously all such dogs had to be kennelled until after proceedings had concluded, even if they posed no risk to the public.

    “Eight children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005″, reports the BBC, “with many of these incidents taking place in the home.

    “In the past 12 months, more than 3,000 postal workers were attacked by out-of-control dogs, with 70% of these attacks happening on private property.

    “Householders will however be protected from prosecution if their dog attacks a burglar or trespasser on their land.”

    “Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, added: “Most people take proper care of their dogs but there are a small minority of people who behave irresponsibly, allowing their dogs to threaten and attack people.

    “People like health and postal workers, who have to go on private property just to do their jobs, deserve protection under the law. By giving the police extra powers to clamp down on law-breakers, those responsible for the worst offences will be held to account regardless of where the attack takes place.” 2

    The changes follow a consultation which ran from 23 April 2012 to 15 June 2012. Over 27,000 people responded to the consultation.

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    February 6th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Here we’ve compiled a selection of comments from Facebook and Twitter, both for and against, regarding the compulsory microchipping announcement made this morning:

    AGAINST – Tina Humphrey, owner of Chandi: “Enough with the ‘responsible dog owners already have their dogs chipped’! I am responsible but chose to NOT subject my dogs to medical procedures that carry health risks. Instead I supervise my dog 24 hours per day, have up to date info on a collar and tag. It is possible to be ‘responsible’ and not risk your dog’s health by implanting a foreign body!” 1  She also sent us the following link.

    FOR – MRCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons): Good news about the compulsory microchipping of dogs. Don’t wait until 2016 though, visit your veterinary practice now – it’s their best way home. 2

    NEUTRAL – K9 Safety: Would like to see online updating option when changing details on chip. Some only allow snail mail and cheque. 3

    FOR – Guide Dogs UK: Compulsory microchipping promotes responsible dog ownership and gives the police an effective tool to identify a dog’s owner and hold them responsible for their dog’s behaviour. It will also make it harder for backstreet breeders to operate. 4

    AGAINST – Dogs Today Magazine: If the microchip isn’t made proof of ownership, the governement shouldn’t bother with introducing compulsory microchipping. 5

    FOR – Marc Abraham, TV vet: Great news but why do we have to wait so long? 6

    NEUTRAL – Ben Fogle, TV presenter: Personally speaking when it comes to #dogmess #microchipping #responsibleowners I think we should require a dog licence. 7

    FOR – Zara the Vet: Great news on the microchipping front, now we just need integration of all the databases and compulsory scanning! 8

    AGAINST – SafePets UK: We already have laws against dog poop not being picked up yet it is everywhere.  Pounds are already full of chipped strays and dumped dogs so how exactly is this going to help? 9

    FOR – Dog Theft Action & Vets Get Scanning: We have campaigned as part of the Microchipping Alliance to make permanent identification compulsory for all dogs since 2009. The Microchipping Alliance comprises a number of animal welfare charities, assistance dog charities, veterinary organisations, dog membership organisations, and other organisations affected by dog issues, and today welcomed the Government’s long-awaited announcement. 10 11

    AGAINST – DDA Watch: Good luck to all dog owners….you’re gonna need it! 12

    FOR – The Kennel Club: After speaking with dog owners around the country we are confident compulsory microchipping will be well received. A recent Kennel Club survey highlighted public support for compulsory microchipping, with almost 90% of people strongly in favour. 13

    AGAINST – RSPCA: We don’t believe this will reduce the number of stray dogs,make owners act more responsibly to their dogs or ensure fewer dogs bite. [15. David Bowles, head of public affairs ]

    FOR – PDSA: Compulsory microchipping is not a solution to the problem of aggressive dogs and related injuries. However, it will help encourage responsible ownership, quicker re-unification of lost dogs with their owners and will enable enforcement bodies to identify owners more easily in cases of irresponsible ownership. 14

    NEUTRAL – 4 Paws Patrol: Only having one company that stores the information would help, too many databases! [16. Source ]

    FOR – Environment Secretary Owen Paterson; Dogs Trust; Blue Cross; Battersea Dogs & Cats Home: See Defra Press Release

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    February 6th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Defra has announced that from 6 April 2016 all dogs will be required by law to have a microchip. 

    This is obviously a huge headline in the doggie world, so we here at Dogs In The News will be tracking all the latest news and views and reporting them as the day goes on. 

    Compulsory microchipping has been an ongoing debate for quite some time, but a decision has finally been reached. From April 2016, all dogs in England will have to have a microchip by law. This will be implemented via changes to the Animal Welfare Act. 

    The government says owners who refuse to comply face fines of up to £500.

    The BBC reports that this venture is “aimed at cutting the growing number of strays” and abandoned animals and relieving pressure on charities. “A legal loophole could also be closed, meaning owners could face prosecution if their dog attacked on private land.”

    It is not yet clear whether it will be breeders or owners who are responsible for getting their dogs chipped, but the Dogs Trust says: “We believe it will be the owners to chip and update details but we hope the law will ask breeders to microchip before sale.”

    Currently, around 60% of dogs in the UK are already microchipped.

    Northern Ireland introduced compulsory microchipping in April 2012, while Wales is considering it. The Scottish government has said that, while it recognised the benefits of microchipping, there was “no evidence compulsory microchipping would effectively tackle welfare issues”.

    Supporters of compulsory microchipping, including many major animal charities, say that it will help reduce the number of dangerous dog attacks by making the owner of that animal (traceable through the chip) responsible for its actions.

    They also believe it will help with issues of animal abuse and abandonment, again because the dog’s history will be known and the perpetrators tracked. In the same way, it will help target puppy farmers and unethical breeders. They purport it will encourage ‘responsible’ dog ownership.

    Some claim that the move will also help reduce the rising number of dog thefts in Britian, but that depends whether a chip is considered legal proof of ownership. At the moment it is not, but this may change under the new legislation.

    Finally, it will guarantee that dogs in rescue centres are genuinely charity cases with nowhere else to go, not misplaced family pets.

    Critics, including a major canine publication, question the effectiveness and likely cost of the move.  They also argue that responsible owners will microchip regardless of legislation, while the rogues who are the target of the law will disregard it.  There is some truth to the fact that, if a dog does not have a microchip and cannot be traced to an owner, there will be no way to fine or admonish the guilty party!

    There are also those who query why it has to be a microchip specifically, and not some other form of permanent identification, such as a tattoo. Some believe that microchipping – the insertion of a foreign body – is bad for the dog, though these claims are mostly unsubstantiated. Some dogs can have a reaction to the chip, but these cases are rare and not life threatening.

    The British Veterinary Association has called the announcement “a giant leap forward for dogs and their owners” and said: “Microchipping is a safe and effective way to permanently identify a dog”.

    ““Microchipping is a small cost in terms of dog ownership with veterinary practices offering microchipping for around £15-£20 or for free as part of a practice promotion. Dogs Trust and other rehoming charities are also offering free microchipping at their centres and through local authorities.

    “But microchips are only as useful as the information on the database and so it is essential that owners realise that they must keep their details up to date.”

    The Kennel Club is also in favour of compulsory microchipping  – you can read their full statement here.

    The BVA have released a report about compulsory microchipping here.

    We’ll bring you more news and views as we have them folks, including statements from the major parties. We’d love to know what you all think, so do please drop us a line!

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    January 16th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Garmin, global leader in satellite navigation, disappointed dog lovers this week when they announced a new line of what they are calling “electronic dog training systems”.  The BarkLimiter bark reduction collars and Delta series of training collars do not appear to be available in the UK or Ireland yet, but went on sale in the US this week.

    They can call them “training aids” all they like: we all know they’re talking about shock collars.

    Shock collars: a family of training collars that deliver electrical shocks of varying intensity and duration to the neck of a dog via a radio controlled electronic device incorporated into a dog collar, or as a response to vibrations caused by barking

    Garmin claims that these devices are “designed to help dogs learn” and “feature proven and safe electronic correction technology”.  But most respected dog trainers question the effectiveness of these devices as a learning tool, no matter how ‘safe’ they may be. In fact, many believe that they can actually be counter-intuitive or even dangerous in the wrong hands.

    They are illegal in Wales for this exact reason, and the Kennel Club has an ongoing campaign to have them banned in the rest of the UK.

    We here at Dogs In The News believe that corporal punishment – even in the form of a slight electric shock – is never the answer, and are extremely disappointed to learn of Garmin’s decision to produce and promote these highly controversial devices.

    A quick skim of the product description for the BarkLimiter is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl!  Garmin never actually uses the words “electric shock”, preferring the less emotive phrase “stimulation”, but there is no disguising the uncomfortable truth about what these devices do. They wax lyrical about their “integrated stainless steel contact points” which can be adjusted to the “optimum intensity” and deliver “consistent and instantaneous correction”. They also offer “accessory collars” for “even more style”!  Disgusting.

    As for the Delta Series, which also comes with accessory collars: they claim this is a “virtual leash”, offering “a wide range of customizable correction settings… and 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation”. By which they mean “a way to zap your dog from 100 feet away, when shouting, whistling and profanity have all been ignored”. We’re sure the dog will come running back…

    To be honest, while not condoning their use in any way, we can see the appeal of shock collars, especially when they’re marketed in this way. They offer a quick and lazy solution to what Garmin term as “nuisance” behaviour. The product description makes it sound like, for just $100 (£63)  you can pop the collar out of the box, on to the dog and, voila  have a pet which misbehaves and barks no more. They even describe the collars as “set it and forget it” devices.

    Perhaps they do work, in terms of stopping unwanted behaviour – we know we wouldn’t do something very often if we got a “stimulation” in increasing degrees every time we did it!  But what they don’t do is address the underlying reason for the dog’s actions, or consider their emotional state.  In short, the dog may stop the misbehaviour, yes, but has he really ‘learned’ anything?

    We suggest that anyone considering trying one of these collars spends the $100 on training sessions with a qualified behaviourist instead; you’ll have a happier, quieter dog or a faster, more reliable recall without the need for shock therapy!

    We also urge all of our readers to make Garmin aware of their feelings on this matter via their website, or on Facebook or Twitter.

    Further reading:
    Victoria Stillwell – “Is punishment really a quick fix?
    PETA’s statement on the use of shock collars (and electric fences)
    British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s statement
    RSPCA review
    APBC statement

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    June 14th, 2012Laura P (Editor)Articles

    We know many of our readers have been following the ongoing saga of Lennox, the dog seized in Belfast under Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) back in May 2010.

    Lennox, then 5 years old, was taken from his home and family during a routine license check. The dog, which the family claimed was an “American Bulldog Labrador cross” was deemed to be a Pit Bull (a banned breed) and was taken into the custody of Belfast City Council.

    There had been no complaints registered against him.  He was licensed, neutered, kept in a secured yard, and always muzzled when off the property when walking with his owners.

    It was ruled that he should be destroyed under the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), based solely on his appearance.

    Since then, he has been kept in a basic kennel and his family have not been allowed to see him.

    While he has been inside, his family have been tirelessly appealing his death sentence, upheld by two courts to date. This Tuesday (12th June) was the final judgement day.

    Unfortunately, Chief Justice Girvan maintained that Lennox should be destroyed.

    Since the verdict was announced, Twitter has been alive with various different attempts to overturn this decision, including a petition to “Boycott Belfast”, a request for emails to be sent to the Prime Minister, and many pleas for help from celebrity dog behaviourists.

    According to Ulster TV, Peter Robinson (First Minister of Ireland) is “very unhappy” with the decision, but he states that “Politicians have no power to interfere with decisions of the courts”.

    It should be stressed that Lennox has not yet been euthanized, and an official statement on the Save Lennox website said that the family were currently “in talks with their legal team”.

    It is somewhat hard to keep track of the exact progress of the case, due to the nature of social media, plus some hyperbole and irresponsible reporting, but as far as we can tell, Lennox is still alive and his family are planning another round of appeals to save his life.

    The Examiner claims that they “will appeal to the Higher Court of England in hopes his case is accepted in their court”.

    The petition to spare him is still open and anyone who has not yet signed it can do so here.

    We suggest that you follow us on Twitter and Facebook for any updates as and when we have them. We can’t always monitor our feed and we do like to take time to verify sources though, so it may not be instantaneous.

    So, we would also suggest that you follow the official Save Lennox campaign accounts and the DDA Watch accounts as well, as they seem to be the most informed on this matter and the most prompt to spread the word. Any official statements can be found on the Save Lennox website.

    What is interesting is that most sources are now referring to Lennox as a Pit Bull or of “of Pit Bull type”: previously the family always maintained that he was an “American Bulldog Labrador cross” and should never have been seized under the DDA in the first place.

    We are not sure if this change of breed is due to something which came to light in court or ‘Chinese whispers reporting’, but it seems significant that “Ms Barnes [Lennox’s owner] has accepted her pet was a Pit Bull type” (BBC).  IF he is accepted to be a Pit Bull or of Pit Bull type (an ambiguous phrase if ever there was one), the family’s legal stance will be quite different.

    We, of course, feel for the family having to go through this ordeal and especially mourn for the poor dog caught up in the middle of all this – who has spent the last two years of his life in a kennel when he should have been at home.

    Rest assured that the fight for Lennox, and indeed all dogs affected by the highly flawed DDA, will go on.

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    April 21st, 2012Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Compulsory microchips for dogs are to be introduced in England, under plans expected to be announced on Monday.

    Ministers are expected to say that every newborn puppy should be microchipped to make it easier to trace and prosecute owners of violent dogs.

    The chip will contain details of the dog’s owner and address, which will be stored on a central database to which the police and the RSPCA will have access.

    Supporters, including many major animal charities, say microchipping will help reduce dog attacks by making it easier to trace owners, and that it will speed up efforts to find new homes for stray animals.  They purport it will encourage ‘responsible’ dog ownership.

    Critics question the effectiveness and likely cost of the move.  They also argue that responsible owners will microchip regardless of legislation, while the rogues who are the target of the law will disregard it.

    There are also those who query why it has to be a microchip specifically, and not some other form of permanent identification, such as a tattoo.

    Over half of all dogs are already microchipped voluntarily in the UK, with over 5000 canines chipped each week. Most people say they get their pet microchipped to increase its chances of finding its way home again if it were lost or stolen.

    There are also practical and administrative reasons for doing, so such as the recording of some health test results in the case of purebred dogs, and to comply with pet travel regulations. All major organisations, such as the Police and Guide Dogs for the Blind, already microchip their animals so as to give them a unique identifier.

    Supporters of the scheme say that it will help reduce the number of dangerous dogs by making the owner of that animal (traceable through the chip) responsible for its actions.

    They also believe it will help with issues of animal abuse and abandonment, again because the dog’s history will be known and the perpetrators tracked. In the same way, it will help target puppy farmers and unethical breeders.

    Finally, it will guarantee that dogs in rescue centres are genuinely charity cases with nowhere else to go, not misplaced family pets.

    The main argument against the proposals is that it would be very hard to enforce, and that, as stated before, it would target responsible owners (not least in terms of cost) while the irresponsible ones will fail to comply. The administrative duties alone would have to be considered, as well as the potential that people will falsify details to avoid being tracked.

    There are also those who believe that microchipping – the insertion of a foreign body – is bad for the dog, though these claims are mostly unsubstantiated. Some dogs can have a reaction to the chip, but these cases are rare and not life threatening.

    The Welsh Assembly is currently debating these issues, with the view to developing their own legislation. Northern Ireland introduced compulsory microchipping earlier this month.

    Scotland has stated that they have no intention of introducing these laws North of the border just yet.

    What do our readers think?  Will compulsory microchipping help with problems like abandonment and dangerous dogs, or is it just a way to punish responsible owners?  The Daily Mail estimate that it costs around £35 pounds to microchip a dog, but surely this is a small price to pay for peace of mind, knowing that your dog can be returned to you if it is ever lost?  Are your dogs chipped at present? If not, will you have them chipped if this legislation comes into effect?

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    February 19th, 2012Laura P (Editor)Articles

    It’s not often that we report non-canine news on this website, but an interesting report was published last week which we thought merited a mention.

    This report, which reviewed 100 studies on the physical discipline (smacking) of children going back 20 years, concluded that: “smacking children has no positive effect on their behaviour, and in fact in many cases makes them more aggressive and anti-social”.

    Now, we’re not in any position to start offering a commentary on parenting techniques, but the findings of the report seemed highly relevant in the context of dog training methods.

    As you probably already know, there are largely two schools of thought when it comes to dog training: the reward based method, where good behaviour is reinforced and bad behaviour is redirected or ignored; and the punitive method, where bad behaviour has consequences, often involving physical correction.

    This physical correction can take many forms, from a Cesar Milan-esque “dominance roll”, to a push on the bottom to force a dog into a sit rather than letting him figure it out on his own. It may also involve physical barriers, an anti-bark citronella collar, an electric shock collar, or a corrective jerk on a choke chain.

    Sorry, I mean “check chain”.

    Anyway, the cleverest among you will probably have already figured out where I am going with this. If physically correcting (smacking) your child has been proven to have negative consequences, both in the short and long term, why do some dog trainers and owners still advocate outdated punitive methods when training your dog?

    The study went on to say that corporal punishment for children “weakens the parent-child bond”: any positive dog trainer will tell you that trust is a huge part of your relationship with your dog and that without a positive bond between the two of you very little can be achieved.

    It also found links between smacking and lower IQ levels and depression; a dog that is simply pushed around or stopped from exhibiting certain behaviours has not ‘learnt’ anything of value, and may actually simply be repressing those behaviours.  This is not effective long term and definitely not good for your dog’s mental state.

    Many dog trainers say that it the job is more about educating the owners than teaching the dog. A dog may be thought of as ‘naughty’ for merely displaying classic canine behaviour, which is misinterpreted as a delinquent or vindictive action by their owners.

    As Karen Pryor explains (much better than we ever could) in her book “Don’t Shoot the Dog”, the best results are achieved though a deeper understanding of the animal, and by addressing the underlying cause of the behaviours rather than just physically stopping or correcting the problem. She also believes that animals learn more quickly when allowed to problem solve and offer the desired behaviour by themselves.

    Obviously, discussing the differing schools of thought on dog training and positive vs negative reinforcement are all far beyond the scope of this simple article. Everyone has their own thoughts on the matter (as I am sure they do with parenting methods!)

    However, what we think almost all of us can agree on is that physical punishment alone has no real place in the modern world of dog training.

    So let’s say no to punitive training methods once and for all. After all, if they’re no good for our children, they’re probably no good for the dog.

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