It is about Time!

It is about time,that as professionals in the canine industry we began to ask ourselves:
What are we doing?
Really!

Every day we see more dogs with “behavioural problems” and I think it is about time that we started to ask ourselves why? It is about time that we realize that these behavioural problems are actually symptoms of problems in the dog’s well-being.

It’s about time we stopped treating the dogs with
Sit!,
Stay!,
Heel! …

We have dogs living with us, in an environment where they understand absolutely nothing of what is going on around them. The dog is continuously asking us What’s that? What should I do? and we are controlling it with a Sit!.

I know that it goes against the dominant culture of how we look at the dog, but I am convinced that if we do not change the way we work with the people who come to us for help with the problems they are having with their dogs, it is only going to get worse.

As I see it, it is imperative to give people the knowledge to help them make better decisions regarding their dogs. If we professionals are telling them – “Don’t worry. You just need to take my wonderful course that works with all dogs, of all breeds and all sizes. “ – we are simply lying.

It is about time that we realize that the dogs are not well and it is not their fault.

We have been selecting specific traits for hundreds of years, because it suited us. The dog took care of certain jobs that turned out to make life so much easier for us. From there we have shepherds, livestock guardians, gun dogs, sighthounds, terriers …

Now it turns out that it is annoying that my Beagle barks, that my Pyrenean Mastiff does not let my friends in the house or that my Border Collie runs after children on bicycles. That – ladies and gentlemen – are different carefully selected traits brought to perfection. We cannot continue to make the carers of these dogs believe that it is fixed with obedience commands.

It is about time that from the very industry we make it clear to the person who comes and wants us to fix the behavioural problems their dog is displaying by training him, that it really has nothing to do with training.

It worries me enormously when professionals, renowned with years and years of experience and authors of books that are used as a reading reference in the dog training industry, on YouTube defend the use of E-collars as a useful tool to train the dog not to “run away” when off leash. That it is less abusive to give him a couple of sparks than to keep him on a leash, from fear that the he will escape. It worries me that a person with all that experience has so little knowledge about dogs. If the dog really escapes there is a huge problem in the relationship between dog and human and that most definitely cannot be fixed with an E-collar.

It is about time that we, the professionals of this industry, begin to see things as they are. A Border Collie running after children on bicycles is not displaying any aggressive behaviour. He is doing his job. That job, for what we have programmed him during hundreds of years. A Greyhound that suddenly runs after the neighbour’s cat or the Mastiff growling at the guests, is just more of the same. Trying to fix these behaviours with an E-collar is not only cruel, it is downright stupid.

What we have to do, and it is about time, is to get the carers to know that they have to start getting to know their dog and communicate with him in order to really help him with his day-to-day life in this world, which is definitely not his. Help him better understand his surroundings so that he can manage it.

It is about time we stopped castrating male dogs and spaying females right, left and centre. If what we are looking for is not to have unwanted litters, there are other ways that do not alter the dog’s hormonal system. You can sterilize the male through a vasectomy and make a tubal ligation to the female and thus inhibit the possibility of reproduction, but it does not alter the hormonal system of the animal. Altering the hormonal system means leaving the dog unable to manage its emotional life.

And please, do not try to fix aggressive behavior problems by neutering the dog in order to lower its testosterone level. Testosterone does not make the dog more aggressive. In fact, the most defined aggressiveness in the world is that of a mother defending her offspring, regardless of the species. Think about it – testosterone has nothing to do with it there.

It is about timet that we began to look for the dog’s well-being and not only for our own comfort. If we continue to treat the dog’s behaviors with command training and overpopulation through neutering (or spaying) – don’t fool yourself – we don’t care about the dog’s well-being.

We need a paradigm shift and I hope it can be done. If not, every day we will have more dogs that cannot lead the life that we impose on them. From the very industry we need to make a turn. For the dog’s well-being – and ours.

It is about time!



*Note:
When the gender of the dog is unknown it is taken as masculin. I do not like to treat the dog as an “it” and apart from that, I am just lazy – nothing else.


If you don’t like what I have written in this article and/or you are in any way offended, you can send an E-mail to:
youhaveoffendedmesomuch@jonasthulin.com
I will answer. I promise.

6 thoughts on “It is about Time!

  1. Hi Jonas,
    Thanks so much for this. We have a rescue Border collie who a previous trainer told us to have pts.
    We thought we were doing the right thing doing lots of high intensity activities which were recommended by a dog trainer. Turns out everything we were doing was making her worse. Well, eventually I found the right way forward and we have a much happier dog and family. She is so responsive to us now. We have all learnt to live without a ball…who knew!
    We still have a way to go but all our lives are so much happier. Thanks for spreading the word.

    1. Thank you Linda

      I am happy you have been able to turn and so making your Border a happy dog.

      Oh – I am just giving the word. It is your job to spread it. Hehe…

      Thanks again,
      Jonas

  2. How to choose a trainer that has your mind set? I’m in milton ny 12547
    Have shepherd mix rescue who has an anxious baseline, was stranger friendly submissive, not reading other dogs cues, now starting to lunge in a hostile way, really want a behavoralist, went thru 3 trainers so far, they really weren’t attuned to my girl

    1. Hi Cris

      I would try to contact Dr. E’lise Christensen at behaviorvetsnyc.com
      Also check out Kim Brophy on dogdoorcanineservices.com
      She is on the same wavelength (more or less) as I and maybe can help you find a trainer in your area.
      I know it is hard to find trainers with this approach and that is why I thought it important to write the article.

      Thank you for caring about how your resscue is really feeling and not just train.
      I wish you best of luck.

      Kind regarsds,
      Jonas

  3. [I am french and so I am very sorry for my english]

    I am very thankfull for this beautiful articles. I have a Border collie and when she started to run after cycles, balls or other runners, i have decided to propose other activities in ordre to fulfill her needs.
    Unfortunately, i fell guilty by reading you, since i am part of the “mad” guys spaying females. And I need more explanation about this sentence : “Altering the hormonal system means leaving the dog unable to manage its emotional life.”
    Do you really think that altering the hormonal reproduction system can alter the entire managment of the dogs emotional life ???
    I mean, I do not reduce the impact of the gonads resection, but its a little bit reducing for other hormonal systems, isnt it ?
    And what about males in heat ? These dogs unable to remember their own name after smelling the smell or females. Are they more able to manage their emotional life than my “ovaryless” female ?

    Thanks you for the time spent to reading me.

    Ludivine

    1. Hi Ludivine

      Thank you for the comment and I understand your concern.
      First I have to say, you should not feel guilty for doing something you thought was the right thing to do. I also live with neutered dogs and spayed females. This was what I thought was the best to do and now I just have to make all I can to give them the best life possible. Another thing is that my dogs are rescues and it is general practice to spay and neuter rescue dogs in Spain.
      Now, if we go in on the effects on the hormonal system we have to know what sex-hormones functions are. In your case we are talking about a female, so we will go in on estrogen.
      Estrogen is a hormone that plays various roles in the body. In females, it helps develop and maintain both the reproductive system and female characteristics. Estrogen contributes to cognitive health, bone health, the function of the cardiovascular system, and other essential bodily processes.
      Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues. Both female and male bodies have this hormone, but females create more of it. Most of the estrogen production is in the ovaries and when removing them there is a considerable drop in estrogen levels in the body. Apart from putting the whole endocrine system in unbalance it has a menopausic effect on the female and as a result can have issues with:
      • Disorders in the pituitary gland
      • Thyroid disorders
      • Osteoporosis
      • Arthritis
      • Mood changes
      • Fatigue
      • Decline in serotonin that can lead to depressive states
      • Weight gain
      • Dementia
      I highly recommend to check the interview Dr. Karen Becker held with Dr. Michelle Kutzler on this very topic.
      And the video Dr. Karen Becker put out a few years ago.

      Thank you again and kind regards,
      Jonas

      P.D. Your english is not bad at all…

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