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Life Arts    H2'ed 7/28/08

Power, Peace, and Puppies: Common Sense and Nonviolence

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Until man extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace. ~Albert Schweitzer

Once the dogs at GHS have received their socialization and nonviolent behavioral training, they are ready for adoption, and humans can apply for the happy privilege of inviting a furry friend to join their family. The prospective human companions and any pets they might already own are evaluated, in order to find the best match. Then the humans attend a Pet Parenting Program with Russell, and an hour-long, private training session with Owens, where they learn nonviolent training methods and how to speak “Dog.” Like a canine version of, GHS invests heavily in crafting a perfect match, so the dogs they place will stay placed.


Will the REAL Dog Whisperer Please Stand Up?


The title The Dog Whisperer has caused some confusion, since it has been applied to two very different approaches.The Annandale Radio News notes that, “The more famous dog whisperer, National Geographic television’s Cesar Millan, displays a training philosophy that is much more aggressive and warlike than Owens’s.”[13]


FOX-owned National Geographic’s use of the “Dog Whisperer” moniker as the title of Cesar Millan’s [14] TV show seems incongruous. Millan’s confrontational methods couldn’t be further from whispering. His techniques include jerking, leash and scruff hanging, and the use of choke collars—labeled “medieval torture devices” by Tamar Geller, author of The Loved Dog—and which can cause neck and spinal damage from even a “mild” jerk.


According to Newsday, “Owens was the first to use the Dog Whisperer moniker in both books and DVDs. A yoga practitioner and staunch believer in nonviolent training for dogs, he is about as diametrically opposed to Millan as you can get.[15]


Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain


Aversive training methods, such as those Millan employs, were universally accepted until a couple of decades ago when behavioral scientists found they were not as effective as positive-only methods—and could, in fact, be dangerous. However, it’s taking time for real-world trainers to catch up with the scientific evidence, and aversive methods are still widely taught today. Other well-known dog trainers who still predominantly use aversives include Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis and the Monks of New Skete. “Aversives” include pinning dogs to the ground to show dominance, hitting,[16] electrical shocking, and “flooding.”[17] Flooding is physically forcing dogs into situations they deeply fear, and is accomplished by physically holding dogs next to the feared object or dragging them with leash and choke collar into the situation they fear.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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