Over the weekend I had an e-mail discussion with Rocco’s trainer, Scott Taylor from Hollywood North Canine Training and Talent. I asked his opinion on the ever increasing rate of dog euthanasia due to behavioural problems, specifically aggression. I found his response very poignant, eloquently summarizing my own feelings on the matter. I wanted to share his response in full. It is a thought provoking argument and a reminder, to us as dog owners, of the degree of responsibly we have towards our companions.
Patience is what is required.
Aggressive behavior has usually been “forced” on a dog.
As a society we are currently killing more dogs than ever before for behavioral issues, especially when it comes to aggressive behavioral issues.
There are extreme cases, a dog like “Rooska” for example – I believe dogs like Rooska have suffered a brain injury – most likely inflicted on them by too aggressive handling, punishment as a pup, by a human – these dogs do not respond well to “training” rather “they need time to heal”. Heeling requires consistent handling, recovery can be upwards of 3 to 5 years.
There are really, very few really qualified dog trainers in our communities. Ego gets involved.
Personally I’ve never met a dog that couldn’t, wouldn’t change, I have however met a lot of owners who wouldn’t! The philosophical question I guess is… should a dog be destroyed for this?
I am considered Expert Witness in both the Provincial and The Supreme Court here in BC. I have advised many dog owners and lawyers re: dealing with the authorities re: dog biting incidents. In Court, as witness, I am considered a expert in 5 areas of dogs, it goes something like “expert in the assessment of canine behavior and the rehabilitation of canine behavior especially when it comes to aggressive canine behavior”.
I offered testimony in the longest canine trial in Canadian history (search “Ken Whittle”). The Judge in that case released one of the dogs to me to be rehabilitated, before being returned back to Mr Whittle’s care.
There can be serious legal ramifications for owners who don’t seek help with aggressive behavior in their dogs (criminal negligence).
Many owners do seek help and only have the experience of their pocket book being lightened.
The Courts are not really the solution. Currently the Provincial Court seems to be cooperating with the Municipalities, by ordering the destruction of the dog, in most aggressive dog cases brought before them.
I have trained dogs to be aggressive. I can also train them not to be. It’s a simple matter.
To the average pet owner, who is dealing with aggressive behavior in their dogs and has a limited budget, I say “what’s wrong with a muzzle”?
I believe the media’s current fascination with “Pitt bulls” could be ended simply; owners of this breed could simply cooperate by muzzling their dogs – tah dah… end of the media hype.
Through a simple evaluation, I could easily identify which K9 personalities could pose a serious threat – but do people want to know?
It seems it is our right, as humans, to learn by our mistakes; but is it right that our companion animals should be made to, allowed to, suffer for it (through our learning curve).
Experimentation in science no longer allows the experimentation on animals – when the research has already been thoroughly exhausted. When are companion animals going to be afforded the same rights (in their education)
I guess we’re getting into the discussion of animal rights. Why I believe Judges like to invite me into their Courtrooms is to debate K9 rights. As I see it, it is the dog that stands trial – not the owner – the dog is before the Court – being held accountable for their behavior – independent of its owner – there is no penalty to the owner save for the loss of property (very serious under British law) – while the dog is on trial for their life.
My argument is that if we can put a dog on trial, then they, the dogs already have rights – dogs have the right to be tried before a Court of law, they have the right to be held accountable for their actions, they have the right to live or die depending on how the Court weighs their behavioral choises. Once you understand a dogs rights, currently afforded by our society, is more clearly defining such a leap.
The social cost of such dog cases far exceeds the cost it would take to rehabilitate a dog. Such a dog case costs society hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dogs that you know, who are in behavioral plans are Star and Nikki, both attend the later Class at DP : )
(group training class which Rocco attends at Douglas Community Center, edit.)
Something that you personally should know is that it is “the addition of Clicker Training, to a dog trainers tool box, that makes successful rehabilitation of behavioral problems in dogs a reality!”
Pro actively employing Clicker training in a pups education, at 10 to 12 weeks, simply guarantees that we would not be having this conversation.
Refreshers in clicker sessions, through out our human K9 relationship, are an important strategy in keeping our dogs fresh, excited in relationships with us (lets face it we humans are not that fun to live with, to be tied to).
The last three statements are my dog training challenge to you for the week (for the rest of your life) – You as a more public figure, you with an educated Husky, should be promoting Clicker training, I challenge you to use your influence, promote Clicker work to all the other pet enthusiasts you meet.
We can break this cycle of abuse:
“Is it our right, as humans, to learn by our mistakes; when our companion animals are made to suffer for it!”
re-printed with permission, copyright Scott Taylor Hollywood North Canine Training and Talent