Press release Jan Fennell the Dog Listener March 2006

IT IS TIME TO STOP THE BULLYING OF DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS

Sadly, almost daily, our Team are told of the most dreadful practices inflicted on dogs and their Carers, from jerking dogs on their leads to the electrical shock treatments. This is the 21st Century and yet these methods are accepted in so many areas. The use of force and fear are the tools of the abuser, the bully; the person who will get what they want without any regard for the other. How on earth can a trusting relationship be made on this basis?

As this year is the Chinese year of the dog, it is the perfect time to launch the first International Day of the Dog. An event to celebrate the joy that dogs can bring to their human partners everywhere. On Sunday 30th April 2006, the Team of Dog Listeners worldwide invite all dog Carers to join us in finding ways to make this day very special for not only themselves but also for their dogs. Each year we intend having a specific Campaign for the benefit of dogs and their Carers, and for our first event we are calling for an end to the disgraceful bullying and abuse of both dogs and their owners, even when this is done in the name of training.

Surely the purpose of any training is to teach; as any good teacher knows it is the responsibility of a good teacher to facilitate learning, to create an environment that will enable the student to take the information on board. Again, as any good teacher will tell us, if you want to succeed it is essential to make the learning experience fun. So where does pain, force, surgery, gadgets, shouting, shaking, and fear fit into that equation? Just think what would happen if a schoolteacher were to strike, shake or throw things at their pupils, they would be dismissed instantly.

It is time to remind all who work with dogs and their Carers that whenever an owner seeks help they are extremely vulnerable and trusting. It takes courage for anyone to say that they need help, and this demands respect and empathy from the advisor, whose ultimate responsibility is to find a way to assist the owner that will not cause the dog or the owner in any distress.

So many of the experiences of the owners are like that of Sandy, a lady who decided, just after this New Year to take her 14 week old puppy to a local playgroup. As they trotted through the door of the hall her puppy, Megan, gave a little growl when faced, for the first time, with so many other puppies, and before Sandy could do anything the “trainer” stomped toward her, snatched the lead from her hand, swung the puppy off her feet stating that she would have none of that in her class! Sandy caught her puppy as she flew through the air and left. As she walked away the words ringing in her ears was assurance from the trainer that without her help Sandy and her dog were heading for disaster.

We only have to look at those who really do want to get the best out of their canine partners, for example, assistance dogs. These dogs are working with people who have different impairments; all of these dogs are trained using positive re-enforcement and patience. Just watch one of these dogs doing their job and see how happy they are. I would ask the question; doesn’t every dog deserve this level of respect and consideration?

Another recent experience is that of Terry and his dog Danny, a black Labrador, who had starting barking a little too much whenever anyone came to the front door. The advice that came at him was for an electric collar to be put onto the dog and when he barked Terry was told to give him ‘a bit of a jolt’. Reluctantly, Terry did as he was told. Terry was heartbroken when his dog screamed and ran into another room and things were no better the second time this happened. Consequently, the third time Terry reached for the collar control, his dog ran towards him and grabbed his wrist before the pain could be inflicted. When the desperate Terry contacted his trainer he was told that, as his dog was vicious, he would have consider having the dog put down. When Terry contacted us we advised him to simply thank Danny when he barked at the door, which, of course, worked.

When I hear of these travesties I am reminded that each dog is an individual who never lives long enough, so why make their short lives a misery? Isn’t the dog supposed to be man’s best friend? How can any right-minded person advocate force in working with any creature, especially one that is so close to our hearts?

Thankfully, all over the world, people campaign to protect so many endangered and abused animals. As a species we have come a long way from the days when a trophy from Africa was a leopard skin, now a photo of a leopard living free is a prized possession.

The Dog Listeners would like to ask any Carer who is told to inflict pain on their dog or is bullied themselves to carry out the orders of others to, on behalf of their dog to say NO and walk away, as no one has the right to mistreat you or your dog. There are many wonderful people out there who, like us, are able to help you and your dog without distress to either. I ask you to refuse to settle for less than you and you dog deserve and join us on Sunday 30th April and say NO to bullying of dogs and their owners; whether it be organising a sponsored walk to raise money for one of the wonderful dog charities, meeting up with your friends, both human and canine, or having a special time with your dog. If you are not fortunate enough to have a dog of your own at present, then why not give some time to a local rescue centre? Whatever you can come up with please let us know and we will put the information on our website, www.janfennellthedoglistener.com. If you are able to take photos we would like you to send them to us, as we would also like to share them with other dog publications.

For further information please contact Jan Fennell via telephone on 01724 761764 or email to jan.fennell@btopenworld.com or visit www.janfennellthedoglistener.com

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