I really, really, really enjoy and highly recommend Dr. Mercola’s human health daily newsletter. It’s one of my favorite morning reads. However recently he provided an article about dog behavior that sort of made me mad. I’ve read the same sort of tripe before and normally it goes in one ear and out the other but because I value his opinion and the resources he provides so much I was disappointed. I should say, he didn’t write it, it was a veterinarian named Dr. Becker for whom it seems he uses for behaviour advice. I’m sure she means well but based on her article she’s not the most critical thinker and the dog behaviour topic seemed obvious to not be really her area of expertise.
I’ve provided a link to the article below but here’s a synopsis and the problem I have with Dr. Becker’s article which was titled “Don’t Make This Tragic Mistake When Your Dog Misbehaves”. “A one year-old dog was injured so severely by misuse of a choke collar that he had to be euthanized. The owner suspended the dog a few feet off the ground with a choke collar for a full minute as a disciplinary tactic. When the dog was lowered to the ground, he was panicked and ultimately lost consciousness (and was ultimately so physically damaged he was euthanized).” This bizarre act by some maniac was used to come to this conclusion – “According to veterinarian Dr. Sandra Sawchuck in her comment to Clinician’s Brief about the case of the young German Shepherd: “Unfortunately, convincing an owner who uses a choke or prong collar to switch to a safer training device may necessitate some form of injury to their pet from choker misuse.”
Suspending a dog by any collar as a form of discipline in the name of dog training is not training nor discipline it is simply abuse. The type of collar isn’t relevant at all. Doing that to any dog with any collar is not going to have a happy ending. Making people who use collars not approved by this veterinarian feel like bad dog owners is just ignorant. The article goes on to provide some over simplified all positive training trips “Positive Reinforcement Dog Training in 5 Simple Steps ” (seriously, it’s just that easy) that reek of ignorance of the reality of day to day realities faced by dog owners with dogs that can simply physically overwhelm them. The tool is not the problem. It is the tool at the end of the tool that is the problem. I can relate stories of far more negligently botched veterinary procedures performed by veterinarians with a scalpel then scenarios such as this tragedy. If I were to take Dr. Becker’s lead and blame the tool instead of the tool at the end of tool I’d conclude that scalpels are dangerous and only spoons should be used to perform surgery because veterinarians and dog owners lack the ability to use tools intelligently and appropriately.
I’d be happy to read Dr. Becker’s veterinary opinion regarding something that falls within the scope of her actual education but dog behavior is not it. Her grasp of it is far too superficial to be of much use to typical dog owners.