Showing an animal leadership and giving it rules is not the same thing as instilling fear and punishing it. A quick, assertive touch is not the same as a strike.
Never strike a dog. Never let an animal push your buttons. Never, ever correct an animal out of anger or frustration. When you try to correct your dog out of anger, you are usually more out of control than your dog is. You are fulfilling your own needs, not the animal’s. The dog will sense your unstable energy and often escalate the unwanted behavior.
You are there to teach and show leadership. If you’re going to correct your dog, always remain in your calm-assertive state of mind. For some, this may be a challenge, but perhaps that is why this animal is in your life, so that both of you can learn a healthier way of behaving.
The first time I witnessed animal abuse was when I moved to Mazatlan as a child. It tore me up inside to see people throwing rocks at dogs and swearing at them. Later, as an adult, I witnessed first hand the effects of abuse on dogs. I have seen animals that have been hit and kicked, neglected puppies tied to trees in backyards for days and dogs denied food and water.
One memorable case is Popeye. Popeye lost an eye in an illegal dog fight. After this, his owners abandoned him. With his new vision impairment, Popeye felt vulnerable, grew suspicious and became very aggressive toward other dogs in an attempt to intimidate them.
Rosemary was also used in illegal dog fights. When she lost a particularly important fight, her owners poured gasoline over her and set her on fire. A rescue organization stepped in and saved her life, but the horrific experience turned her into a dangerously human-aggressive dog.
Luckily, I was able to rehabilitate both Popeye and Rosemary and provide them with the proper leadership they needed to be fulfilled and feel safe. However, not all dogs are this fortunate. Out of fear, abused dogs may attack, and even kill, humans. Society often sentences these dogs to death, even though it was because of humans they became aggressive.
Help us stop the cycle of violence. If you know of an animal that is being abused or neglected, please speak out. Contact your local humane society, animal shelter, or animal control agency immediately. These agencies have the authority, in most areas, to enforce local laws related to animals, as well as the ability to investigate and resolve the situation. They rely on citizens like you to be alert and report animal suffering. You may choose to remain anonymous, though providing your name and contact information will allow the group to follow up with you if necessary.
For more information, please visit:
The Human Society of the United States
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Best Friends Animal Society