According to an online dictionary definition, violence is defined as "Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing". May think of spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, or criminally motivated physical force. Others try to equate this definition with methods and tools used in dog training, selectively.
Is there violence and abuse against dogs? Unfortunately, there are evil minded people that get great pleasure in harming other humans and/or animals. Yes, there are humans who meet this definition of violence when interacting with a dog. However, those people are not the responsible owners, trainers, or handlers that are seeking to train a dog to live in the domestic human situation. In other words, it is not the owners', trainers', or handlers' intent or future result to be "violating, damaging, or abusing."
There are people in the dog training profession who seek to convince the public otherwise. Anything that does not conform to their narrow view of training tools and methods becomes the incorrect definition of "violence". Don't believe me? Here are some blogs and sites that mention training collars or leash corrections as violence against dogs:
Innerself.com read all the way through, first part is abuse and neglect
Shibashake.com Actually a good article that includes the correct ways to use a leash and collar. I only disagree that correctly using a training collar really is all that difficult. There are ways to make it easier for people.
Why are leash corrections not consider violence for some? One, teaching, molding and repetition all occur before a leash correction is given in many methods, which allows for gentle leash and collar corrections later on. Preparing a dog for corrections also relates to an article that I wrote about being proactive rather than reactive.Two, the human always has control of the correction level and when it is applied. Three, the quality training equipment, like Herm Sprenger metal training collars or the modern electronic collars, have been designed and modified to not cause your average dog in an average training situation (who has been trained correctly using teaching, molding, and repetition) pain but only mild discomfort.
Now comes the controversial part. A human can use these and many other tools to cause discomfort or even pain. Take this a step further, a dog that intends to harm a living being, like another animal or human, needs a correction above the normal working level correction, if that is appropriate and works for that individual dog. However this is very different than intending to harm, violate, or damage the dog. In fact, the equipment used is designed to keep us safe without harming, damaging, or violating a dog. The very intent of the equipment is to keep corrections and control as gentle and mild as they need to be. The handler or trainer is always able to override the intent and proper use of any equipment, when that happens it could meet the definition of violence. More often it meets the definition of poor or sub standard training practices.
Trainers, owners, and handlers who know how to use methods and equipment properly are not largely populated by people, who relish and enjoy hurting a dog. Professionals and people who care about their dogs, and the dogs safety largely want to use all four quadrants of learning in order to avoid or train because:
- Dog not performing a recall in an emergency situation and suffering the consequence of being hit by a car.
- The elderly and disabled sometimes need certain training equipment to level up the field. The elderly and disabled should be able to own and train dogs if they wish to. I am not saying they should not use the equipment and methods properly and perhaps with a little help at first.
- A non savvy dog person taking mouthing or jumping as an attack. Training, real world training, can allow a dog to go into a sit on the first command in a distracting situation.
- To prevent a likely outcome of euthanasia and rehoming where either other methods have not worked, no methods were used, or the dog has gone to a state of being so behaviorally and aggressively challenged that progress is required at a speedy pace.
It is hurtful when other trainers and the well meaning public try to call acceptable training for the individual dog abuse. Remember, that successful training happens when corrections and rewards are not relied upon in the future. There are many worse things than a leash or collar correction. Please seek to understand those that provide for the niche market of dog to owner aggression, dog to dog aggression, or danger to the public as is. For some, this being even present in a term of the dogs life is unacceptable and requires euthanasia. My take is that if I have 1) an owner willing and able to carry on the work after we or I am finished and 2) I have a dog where the severity of the condition is temporary and significant improvement can be made both in the dog's life and behavior, then that team deserves a chance to salvage the relationship and possibly the dog's life.
Remember that rehoming does not equate with success. I don't consider a dog and owner team a success until we are years beyond the problem, and everyone is doing well at home.