The effects of violence on the dog and how we can correct the unwanted behavior
There are many dog owners / guardians who can not enjoy their walk with their four-legged friend, as the leash is constantly stretched. Commonly, the dog pulls them. To solve the problem, some people decide to wear a choke collar. They do not know, however, how much harm they do to the health, but also to the psychology of the animal.
Positive dog trainer – guardian information, Angelika Herra, points out the negative effects of violence on the dog, but also how we can correct its unwanted behavior.
“In recent years, more and more often, we read research by psychologists that shows that education that causes pain to any emotional being, is responsible for physical and mental damage. It is scientifically proven that the hormone cortisol is secreted while an organism is experiencing fear, stress or threat. In contrast, the so-called “pleasure hormone”, dopamine, is secreted when we experience pleasant experiences.
The role of the leash, during the walk with our dog, is none other than its safety.
If our dog pulls during the walk, we do not punish him by pulling his leash, or having a collar around his neck – choking. This way we do not teach the dog to walk calmly with us.
Punishment may temporarily alleviate the animal’s behavior, but in no case does it change his feelings. Punishment results in fear (negative correlation) towards the person or anything else close to him at that moment.
According to psychologists, punishment is defined as any pain or discomfort that leads the animal to fear and anxiety. Example: the dog may stop pulling for a while to avoid pain. But what is being undermined is the dog-guardian or dog-trainer relationship. The coveted discipline, which every guardian would like, unfortunately turns into punishment. Discipline, however, is to control my behavior and emotions, not to punish.
The function of learning in humans, but also in dogs, stops with the secretion of cortisol. The enemy of learning is cortisol.
So let’s see how a dog learns to walk calmly, being happy next to his guardian.
Legal Components: Control the dog that walks without causing pain, fear, surprise or discomfort.
Harnesses with a ring on the front, but also a second ring on the back for extra safety. There is also a breastplate with two rings on the sternum offering greater balance to the animal. That is, if we have the dog on our right we use the left hoop (looking at the dog from the front) and when the dog walks to our left, we join our leash on the right hoop looking at the dog’s chest. Especially for large dogs it is an ideal solution. The result is complete control of the dog for a pleasant ride for everyone. We always start the walk training with a long leash indoors or in another safe place, without external stimuli for our dog.
I stand next to him with the leash loose, forming an upside down stick J. My hands touch my torso, to avoid injury in any abrupt movement of the dog, and we hold the leash between thumb and palm and not around the wrist . I reward the dog at regular intervals, for as long as he stays by my side. Starting gait (front-back, left-right), I reward him as he follows me. If the dog pulls me I stop immediately (without applying opposite pressure to the leash) and wait for him to turn back to look at me. I reward the visual contact with me and with enthusiasm I invite him again to continue our course.
- A waist lead is a good choice for people who prefer to have their hands free and for those who run. It can also be used by those who have a large body type in proportion to their dog, or have a problem with their hands. Of course, training with a leash must have preceded, according to the above technique, before we go for a walk on the road.
- A leash around the dog’s head is used in cases where we want to control every movement of the animal and is suitable for guardians who are relatively small and can not hold a large dog, which can be reactive to stimuli during his walk. This accessory should be as comfortable as possible on our dog’s head in order to be successful. For this reason, preparation – training is required in the application of this strap, similar to the one we do for the muzzle. That is, gradual acquaintance and familiarization of the dog with the new accessory, combined with some pleasant consequence for the dog.
Example: we bring the leash close to the dog, let him smell it to process it and in each new attempt we reward him with a treat or a verbal reward. We can also flavor the leash with something delicious, eg cream cheese, peanut butter, so that the dog can easily create a positive connection with the specific accessory.
Illegal components.They can cause, to a greater or lesser degree, pain, fear, discomfort, but also create, in the long run, health and behavioral problems such as: in the thyroid gland, in the neck and eyes of the dog, increase in aggressive behavior, gradual adaptation to increasing intensity of punishment, resulting in the final apathy of the dog in any intervention in the form of punishment (learned helplessness)
No positive trainer with a sense of ethics and knowledge of a dog’s cognitive skills uses or recommends the following accessories to dog guardians:
Choke collar – chain (choke collar)
- Electric collar (shock collar, e-collar). Research has shown that the use of these accessories may cause problems in the dog’s trachea, spine, but also skin lesions around his neck. Strange as it may sound, a dog’s neck under his coat is much thinner than a human’s. The notion that a dog has a sturdy neck is wrong.
- Rope or other type of guide leash, passed to the dog’s neck as a slip lead (slip lead). The leash as a noose is sometimes used in situations of need and contemplation of a stray or injured animal or in shelters. It is dangerous, if the dog escapes and the leash gets tangled, it can even cause death due to drowning. The slip lead is no different from a classic hanging rope.
Variable length leash: Although this leash does not cause any discomfort to the dog, it is not a safe choice, especially for stronger animals. The mechanism may be cut off resulting in injury to the guardian’s hand, but also to the dog’s limbs. It is also unsuitable for crowded places, with the risk of the strap being caught around a part of our body or the dog. In very small animals, there is still a risk of mutilation. If it suits you, it is good to use it only in open spaces.
So according to the scientific studies of biologists, psychologists and applied science in animal behavior, we are now able to know that there are other, new, non-violent, science-based ways to show a dog that we would like to behaves during his walk, but also in general in his coexistence with us.
Thus, instead of resorting to the traditional outdated techniques of bullying, abusing and punishing a sensitive animal, it would be much more humane and ethical for trainers to inform pet caregivers about a dog’s cognitive skills and how to use them to live together harmoniously. and happily together.
The relationship with our dog, deserves and must be a relationship of mutual trust, respect, love, patience and continuous learning and development.
I wish you many creative rides with your faithful friend.
Don’t choke me, 4 myths about the prong collar by Pooja Menon, moderndog Summer, 2017
Linda Michaels, MA Psychology, Hierarchy of Dog Needs, 2015-16
John Bradshaw, In Defence of Dogs, 2011