Monday, September 20, 2010

He's Not My Dog / Congrats to Owner

by Lorraine May, Executive Director and Head Trainer
The Misha May Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dog and cat rescue
mutts in safe homes always
PO Box 151166
Lakewood, CO 80215-1166

“He’s Not My Dog!”

I stood up for a medium sized black mutt this morning, September 9, 2010, at 8:30 am in a city park. In doing so, I tried to accomplish three things: 1) let the dog know someone cared about him 2) let the woman know that people witnessed her actions and 3) inform the woman that there are better methods.

As I was taking my walk, I heard shouting in what is normally a very quiet park. It was a dark haired woman roughly shaking this black dog by his choke collar, causing his front legs to leave the ground repeatedly and his rear end to jerk around.

I was compelled to respond since her actions could not only hurt his neck and stress him, but his experiences, therefore his associations, with the park, walking on a leash, dogs and people could become extremely negative. Each successive walk could include increasing amounts of stress, followed by punishment.

I wasn’t the only person upset. It was very evident that others nearby were affected as well since they moved away from her and gave her plenty of space.

I breathed calmly and deeply, softened my belly, and held my focus of sharing helpful information, as they approached, now walking quickly. I said matter-of-factly and calmly, “You know, I teach a class that includes other kinds of training techniques so you don’t have to do that.” She replied that he wasn’t her dog or her responsibility anyway. “But, you are walking him, so he is now.” Well”, she said, “he shouldn’t be around other dogs and I don’t have to worry about that.” And she quickly exited the park.

She chose to walk him in the park where there are, of course, OTHER DOGS. Then she punished him for not knowing how to act around other dogs. She did not teach him anything, except, to worry when dogs are around and to expect rough treatment from her.

If anyone is training, walking or pet sitting your dogs, please find out what they do when you aren’t looking. Ask them how they help your dog cope with difficult situations. Do they punish or do they teach?

Congrats to Owner: lone male black lab wandering in O’Kane Park with no visible ID. I don’t know what caused this dog to stray, but the owner’s appearance in her car remedied the situation before I could even get back to my car to get a leash. Good work!

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