Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dawg Business Supports The Never Shock A Puppy Campaign

When the decision had been made that Jasmine was going to join our family, I demanded to get a book on how to raise a puppy.
We already did have a dog in the past, but Roxy was already 5 years old when I met her and she already had the ropes figured out. She didn't really listen to me a whole lot, but listened to my husband, and we figured that was good enough. She loved me dearly and where she lacked in discipline she made up for it in devotion.

Once I was taking her for a walk when Jerry, my husband, was away and she managed to roll in some dead fish. Oh, no! She hated baths—even Jerry had a hard time getting her to take one. How am I going to do that? Lack of control forced me to become creative. I went into the bathroom myself and got into the tub. Roxy, as she always wanted to be where I was, hopped into the tub right after me. Wow, that was easy! And that's how Roxy and I managed without any training or leadership skills on my part.

Jasmine, however, was a puppy. She was a blank slate and somebody had to teach her everything!

And so I got my first dog book. The paragraph that stuck in my head the most was this:
"Dogs are social animals and they will put up with a substantial amount of abuse just to be part of a social group."
That actually made me cry and I swore to myself that I would never ever put my dog through any kind of abuse! Dogs have very little defense against the things we might put them through. They cannot call an abuse hotline nor they can move back in with their moms.

Putting emotions aside, what about the practical side?

I grew up at a time and place when spanking kids was a common practice. My dad actually never hit me, but my mom had temper issues and she would beat me up regularly. First with her bare hand. After she had her hand swollen and sore enough times, she switched to a wooden spoon. A number of broken wooden spoons later she finally settled on a hose originally used to empty a fish tank. That one made it through the rest of my childhood.

Having a first hand experience, I can tell you exactly the one thing physical punishment taught me. FEAR!

I loved my mom dearly, but I was scared out of my mind. Once, I don't remember how old I was but remember the event vividly, I was playing on the living room floor when I saw my mom rushing in my direction. Petrified that she was running at me I peed myself. Then, even more scared, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom. She actually even wasn't after me that time!

One thing all this DIDN'T teach me was WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING to please her in order to avoid future punishment! Not a clue! 

Eventually I figured that if I sat in a corner somewhere, out of everybody's sight, I might be safe as long as nobody notices me there. So that's what I did.

(I love my mom dearly and clearly this stopped being an issue once I became bigger than her)

Considering ourselves superior to our dogs (whether that feeling is justified or not), shouldn't we look out for them and shouldn't we be able to find better ways of communicating with them?

How does having to resort to physical force reflect on us? 

And how much less we achieve this way than we could with positive reinforcement techniques instead?

Not only that reinforcement techniques do not result in fear, they also provide an instruction as to what the desirable behavior should be—something that physical punishment fails to do.

Let's face it - using physical force with your puppy is simply lazy and, ironically, ends up taking much more time and effort than instructive positive training ever would! 

Why? Because of the lack of instruction.

What do you think this is going to do for your relationship with your dog?

Why don't we all put away our wooden spoons, hoses, rolled newspapers and shock collars, and try to build a relationship and understanding with our dogs instead?

Our dogs do want to please us! All we need to do is to show them how.

What is Never Shock a Puppy Campaign?

Never Shock a Puppy is an educational campaign coupled with a fund-raising drive. The campaign was conceived as part of the Be the Change for Pets campaign initiated at the first BlogPaws convention. To find out more about the campaign and how to take part visit Never Shock a Puppy website.

Related articles:
Never Shock a Puppy at Champion of My Heart
Never Shock a Puppy: Promoting Pain-Free Training for Your Dog at Pet Health Care Gazette


  1. Thank you for supporting our Never Shock a Puppy efforts. Thanks for telling this important story. Big hugs from all of us at Chez Champion of My Heart.

  2. Thank you so much for your support, Jana. All of us in the Never Shock a Puppy coalition appreciate it very much.

    You made some really good points in your post. It must have been difficult to live with that type of fear and abuse and be able to do nothing about it other than hide and hope to be overlooked. Thank you for sharing that perspective. I never thought to look at it from the viewpoint of a scared, abused child.

  3. Lorie and Roxanne. Back then it didn't have a label. It was just the way it was. My mom got over her anger issues eventually. We are best friends and keep in touch all the time.

    But I felt that making the point from personal perspective might get through to people so they'd put their anger on a leash.

  4. Jana, this is an important post. Making it personal really helps show others how taking out anger on a defenseless pet is does not build a bond, but builds fear.

  5. Thank you, Hilary. I strongly believe that presenting issues in personal way helps to make a difference. That's why I decided to share the story as part of this campaign.

  6. Keep in mind there is a difference between punishment and discipline. Dogs should learn rules, and I believe it is OK to correct them as long as they understand what the correction is for. I would never hit a dog. I do use shock collars on certain dogs for certain situations such as teaching boundaries.

    You also have to keep in mind the personality, history and age of the dog, as well as its energy level. Every dog is different. Some are more sensitive than others.

  7. Discipline is surely important. Setting and reinforcing rules needs not to be painful though. That is the point of this campaign.

  8. I so know exactly what you are saying Jana. I grew up the same exact way! I am the ninth of eleven children so I also got it from not only my parents but my older siblings as well because this is what they were taught. Abuse of any living creature teaches fear and violence as a means to an end. It serves no other purpose.

    This has the same exact affect on a dog. For instance, if you catch your new puppy doing his/her business on your living room floor, it is best not to yell or use any form of physical abuse whatsoever. This will teach the puppy to be afraid and will also teach him/her to do the business when you aren't looking. So what do you have: A scared puppy that still does their business in the house. Positive correction works beautifully. I have three dogs and this is my preferred method. A mildly stern no and a biscuit, pat on the head and a hug when the right thing is done works wonders with my three angels. I guide them with knowing what the right thing is. They won't know if you don't show them. Yes it takes patience and consistency, but it pays off well. Thank you so very much for this wonderful post, Jana. Cheers my anipal.

  9. Hi Debra. Wow, with siblings it would have been worse. I only had a younger brother, so this wasn't my problem.

    Yes, I totally agree with you about the effect on dogs. That's why I used my own story to paint the picture.

  10. Outstanding article. I do believe there are situations in which electronic collars are not only advisable (keeping a cat alive in a house with a dog that doesn't appreciate the cat's right to live is one. Keeping a dog from running under a tractor or a car is another), I do not believe they're appropriate for use with dogs under 2 years old. Regardless, your article vividly demonstrates why hitting any animal (human, dog, or other) is a waste of time and a detriment to the relationship between the hitter and the hit-ee.

  11. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    I believe that the e-collar is a tool, just as the wooden spoon is. As such it can be used for good or bad. My article is mainly about misusing things (it can be one's voice, hand or foot, it doesn't have to be an e-collar).

    Not sure how some of the tools, such as prong collar could be used the right way.

    But it is more about the attitude, rather than about the tools used.

    I myself was suggesting using vibrating e-collar as means of communication with a deaf dog to a friend; to replace sound with 'touch'.

    Though this is not a simple issue, I decided to make my point simply.

  12. Hey Jana, sorry I missed this important and vividly shocking account of your childhood. If anyone can relate to punishment, it is certainly you. what is interesting that, even tho scared to death of your mother, you still loved her. I suppose dogs respond in the same way; their human is the only leadership (however horrid) that they have. The analogy is apt and very personal for you. Thanks for writing this.