Renowned veterinarian-trainer-writer Ian Dunbar is known for expressing his opinions, and they are worth listening to. He’s had a huge beneficial influence on how we relate to dogs. I describe a little of what he’s done on this page about him, and there is a lot more about him at DogStarDaily.com…here’s his bio there.
So I was fascinated to come across a long interview he did with a man named John Bell Young. That link takes you to it.
Here I will include some excerpts to give you the flavor:
JBY: What is your position with regard to those smoldering and often controversial issues of Breed Specific Legislation?
ID: My question is: Why do we even have such legislation? Presumably it was put in place to make things safer for people. But there is no evidence that these breed banning laws have actually worked, anywhere in the world.
He goes on to say that these laws are being repealed in some areas, and he adds “Breedism is the doggie equivalent of racism, and breed bans are frankly stupid.”
The conversation moves to dog bites. Ian Dunbar comments on incompetent owners being a significant factor in dogs biting and makes a comment I found quite interesting. It’s so hard to get a perspective on things sometimes, but this bit does:
Dogs kill about twenty people in the USA every year; about twelve of those are children… By comparison, two thousand kids were killed last year by their parents. Do we see much about that sad statistic in the media? No! It’s extremely unusual for a dog to kill anyone, but when it does happen, it’s news. And yet when kids are killed by cars or their parents, it’s often not news, because it happens several times every day.
This part didn’t surprise me at all, as he has been a pioneer in teaching people how to socialize their dogs:
The whole problem is preventable with greater socialization in the first eight weeks of a dog’s life, and certainly before a puppy turns three months old. But no matter the breed, why wait? A puppy who grows up being handled a lot will get used to people. Problems develop when puppies are handled by only a couple of people, are not handled enough, or not given the opportunity to meet other people and dogs. When raised in this manner, they become fearful.
Later the conversation turns to the principles of dog training. (Bold emphasis mine.)
The basic principles of dog training are very simple. Edward Lee Thorndike stated them a hundred years ago. If you reward a dog, the immediately preceding behavior will increase in frequency, and be more likely to occur in the future; if you punish a dog, the immediately preceding behavior will decrease in frequency and be less likely to occur in future. Reward-based training is simple. If your dog does something you like, say thank you, give your dog a treat or a kiss, and he will be more likely to act that way in the future. Often, human nature is the real problem; our biggest foible is to take the good for granted and bitch at the bad.
So those snippets took me less than halfway down the page of the interview. To read the whole thing, click on the link above and it will take you right to the interview.
Just to give you more of the flavor of Ian Dunbar’s approach, here is one of his many videos on Youtube. This one on selecting a puppy is under a minute long. He refers to a kennel but of course it could be anywhere you were checking out the puppy.
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