Thursday, August 19, 2004

Post to Maritime Show Dogs

First off - I'll say here that there's no "no cross-posting or you're kicked off" nonsense at the end of each Maritime Show Dogs message (YET haha!) but you will also notice that the following is only MY post and no one else's words - and I'm giving myself full permission to crosspost them here. Besides - it's not the post I'll get in trouble for - it's the opinion at the end that people will get all riled up over. That's what couldn't be handled last time (for those of you new to this blog the posts were deleted and I'm not going to go into that bullshit again).

But anyway - Maritime Show Dogs is a group of people who are mostly people who own purebreed dogs and a lot of them show their dogs and just about all of them belong to the CKC. I'm not a fan of the CKC. That could perhaps be an understatement, but that's another post.

So someone posted asking advice for one of their dogs who was having bad separation anxiety and was barking whenever she went out and the neighbours were complaining. One person posted that they used a shock collar but you may have to shave some fur away to make the connection work properly (?!?) And then another person posts that another option is to just have the dog debarked. And conversation ensued about the merits of that and why it's good as if it's the usual thing to do. Luckily some people started posting opposite opinions about that and a bit of a flame war started. But the funny thing is - no other options were presented! So I sent a post to the group today:

Other Options for Separation Anxiety/Barking Problems

Hi there - I'm not a trainer or a behaviourist, just the owner of a pack of naughty dogs - so I've had to do a lot of research into ways to try and help them be good dogs. Sometimes it's worked and sometimes it hasn't! I went back to the original post about the "debarking" thread and it's because Brenda is having a problem with
one of her dogs - Sibe - howling the whole time she's gone. He has separation anxiety. It's as simple as that and that's what she has to deal with.

Certainly debarking should be included in any persons tool box of options to consider - it is an option. When it's a choice between euthanasia and debarking - I would certainly go for debarking! But you could consider options being like on a graph with debarking being the last option before euthanasia in my opinion (and that's my opinion). Someone mentioned that cats get declawed very easily - that's only because we have culturally decided that it's easy to do and not thought about it when actually it is an amputation cutting off their "fingers" down to the first knuckle. Circumcision of babies (human boys) used to be almost automatic too!

But anyway - other things you can try are - distraction - with things like stuffed kongs, hidden chew treats, those treat balls that they have to roll around in order to dispense treats - if the dog is food motivated those can work perfectly for separation anxiety because it keeps them occupied while you're away. I made a big list of different kong stuffing recipes at if you're interested in trying that. Also, crate training has saved many dogs lives - there's tons of information on the internet about crate training and why it's good and why it's good for separation anxiety in particular so I won't bore you with any of that here - you can just go do a search about it.

Even in a house with multiple dogs if only one of them has separation anxiety from another dog or another human it can be managed without having to go to really violent extremes - or maybe Sibe will need the extreme of being debarked, but surgical intervention should never be the first thing you try. It's probably also the most expensive option too! I also think it's the most lazy option from the humans point of view. And none of this has to do with it being inhumane. What would
be inhumane is rehoming Sibe, or putting him in the basement, or putting him to sleep. There's tons of other things that could be tried first.


So that was the post that I sent to try and send some levity to the group. But the thing is that it didn't seem to occur to most of the people posting to be thinking about the DOG at all and that seems to be so typical of CKC types. It wasn't about why the dog may be barking, but only the problem with the neigbours and how to solve the problem with the least amount of work to the owners. Because after all, the dogs are just a piece of livestock to these people - they are breeders as opposed to just pet owners of mixed breed dogs who have acquired dogs as companions. They haven't gotten these dogs because they want to share their lives with and give pleasure TO these dogs - they want to get as much as they can FROM these dogs. As many titles, as many puppies, as much adulation, as much money, as much experience in husbandry, as much furthering of the breed that they've chosen as they can.

I'm not saying that all CKC members or all breeders or all owners of pure-breed dogs are like that. Not all bald men have no self-confidence and not all fat women own too many cats. (I only have 3).

But when presented with a problem - non-stop barking caused by separation anxiety and making the neighbours complain - the consensus of the group was to do the easiest thing for the human - debarking. It's like getting liposuction instead of going on a diet.

So anyway, that's my rant. It's not the post that'll get me in trouble - it's the rant that follows. Now you can discuss this. Flame away...

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