The Difference Between Dog Poop and a Bagel:



It may surprise you to know that behavior modification isn’t the same thing as “learning” in the sense used by scientists and modern dog trainers. If this sounds like splitting hairs, it’s not. It is a significant point that leads people down the garden path. I’ll give you an example.

Example 1: “Punishment does not teach an animal what to do.”

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The Distorted World of Hearsay Expertise:

I lived in the Pacific Northwest for enough years to know the area well. I went to college and managed a humane society in Corvallis, Oregon. I lived in Seattle and Everett, Washington and with the National Guard I routinely traveled up the Columbia Gorge to central Washington. If we have a conversation and you tell me that there is a restaurant at the top of the Space Needle at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I’m going to do an instant brain freeze. I already know that you are either mistaken, stupid, inventing the information or passing along something someone else told you. Regardless of cause or motivation I know you are not describing reality. The biggest reason for similar statements within modern, scientific dog training and behavior modification is of the latter category – passing on hearsay from people who claim to be experts. Like the Space Needle in Orlando, their image of reality is based on fiction. Note: This fiction is very profitable and elevates the status of the pretender.

Myths Passed Like Gas:

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Weeing Weenies and What to do with them:

Doxie2Many years ago I lived with an adorable Mini-Dachshund named Rosey. Every time I attempted to greet her, she urinated. I ignored her, she urinated. I tossed treats on the ground to distract her. She urinated. I had my roommate put Rosey in a crate for about 10 minutes so she couldn’t greet me as I entered the house. She urinated. No matter what we did, Rosey leaked when she greeted people. This type of urination goes by a number of names — submissive urination, submissive wetting, excitement urination and greeting urination. Regardless of what you call it, it’s big nuisance for dog owners.

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Punishment is bad because you might have to reapply it: Tell that to Wiley Coyote

A common objection to aversive control, first proposed by B.F. Skinner in his 1953 book, Science and Human Behavior, is that punishment sucks because it may not stop the behavior forever. Meaning you may have to re-apply it if the behavior comes back. That Skinner had no idea how to stop a behavior for life or that it is entirely do-able is a different set of topics and I will not digress at this time. So I will present the rebuttal alone.
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Dog Overpopulation: Do the Math

On a recent Facebook list I made the statement that 80% of dogs taken to shelters (excluding strays that are returned to their owners – the actual purpose of a county “pound”.)  don’t survive. That is because about 80% of all dogs born each year do not see their first birthday. If they did, we’d have over billion dogs in this country – but we don’t. If you think my numbers are wrong, let’s use that trite cliché , do the math, and see what we come up with. Before we get started, the SPCA says there are 7.5 million animals of all types taken to shelters each year. That equates to about 5% of the total number of animals in this country. That means that all the billions spent on municipal and private shelters only covers 5% of the total population – if you believe the humane groups. If only 5% are at risk, that means that 95% aren’t. In even totalitarian societies, 95% compliance with any directive is about as good as you can get. Both Soviet Russia and Red Communist China tried to ban pet sales and ownership with punishments up to death. It didn’t work in either country. Meaning if we have 95% compliance in a free society, a humane “movement” is no longer necessary. But I digress…

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Untruth in Numbers: Why current pet overpopulation numbers may be unreliable

Note: This was first published as a feature article in DogFancy magazine.

If you are an animal lover, there is a good chance that you are on the mailing list of at least one animal welfare group. Periodically you probably receive a form letter from an organization that wants you to help stop pet overpopulation. The computer-generated letter includes a personalized greeting, a simulation of the spokesperson’s signature, pictures of either adorable puppies and kittens or abused, emaciated dogs and cats – and lots of statistics. The obvious purpose of the photographs is to gain your sympathy. The statistics are there to prove that there is a real problem with animal overpopulation and that this particular group is the one most worthy of your support. Your generous donation will help these nice people solve the overpopulation problem and help the animals – or will it?

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