To understand Force is to understand why trust is easily broken between a dog and his caregiver. It can undermine a dog's progression into adulthood, undermine cooperation, and lead to abandonment. Even if you have never used force on your dog, others' may have. Well-meaning family members, and even professional caregivers using outdated information, may have used force on your dog. Your job is to protect your dog, and provide gentle guardianship. It requires you to recognize the signs of force, educate those who have used it, and protect your dog at all cost.
The Tell-Tale Signs that Force has Likely Been Used
A dog who has been trained or disciplined with force is recognizable. He cowers with fast movements, at hand gestures, or raised voices, with his ears flat against his head, and his tail curled down. He shows ‘crescent eyes’ (meaning the white shows in a crescent shape under his irises). The dog’s natural curiosity is lower than normal as is his confidence. He avoids people, glancing at where at person is in position to himself, and looks worried, with eyebrows pinched tightly together. When you see these signs in combination, it is likely force has been used.
What is Considered Force?
Force is shouting, pulling, and pushing. At it’s worse, it is hitting, kicking, slapping, straddling a dog, shaking a dog by the scruff of his neck, hitting your dog on his nose with a rolled up newspaper, and/or pinching or kneeing any part of his body. Force is also training collars, including; shock, prong, choke, and citronella collars. Any type of force is to be avoided and for good reasons:
If you currently use force, and would like to explore how to use force-free methods for long-term results and a happier dog, there are several resources regionally and nationally to support you. Check out the following sites:
'Sparky' Smith is a Canine Behaviorist and Practioner, educated through the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, earning her ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC.