Below is a list of things that we really wish clients would just stop doing. If you have done them already, we will be kind and we will try and help you, never fear! But if you have not done these things yet and are thinking about it, please just stop!

  1. Please stop getting two puppies at the same time. There are endless reasons why this is just a bad idea. A brief internet search will give you countless articles on “littermate syndrome” and how difficult it is to train, bond with and socialise two pups at once.

  2. Please stop adopting countless dogs, because they “just spoke to you” when you saw them at the shelter. We have by-laws for a reason and they state that no person should have more than 3 dogs on a normal size property. Dogs need space, they need time, they need individual work and attention. Dogs in large multi-dog households seldom get any of this stuff. Instead they are often stressed and anxious from having to share space and resources with a whole lot of other adult dogs that they have been thrown together with, without any thought as to whether they have the social skills to cope or whether they even enjoy the company of other dogs at all. And shelters – please STOP adopting so many dogs out to the same people!

  3. Please stop adopting adult or senior dogs with poor or non-existent socialisation histories and expecting them to walk on the beach with 50 other dogs. Stop expecting them to automatically fit into your lifestyle. They may not have not have the necessary skills and forcing them to endure things they are not comfortable with in order to meet your expectations is unfair and cruel. Yes, you can give them a good life, but to do that you need to accept their limitations first and give them what THEY need and not what YOU THINK they need.

  4. Please stop buying and adopting dogs that belong to the “fighting” breeds and expecting them to get on with all your other dogs. Especially please stop being surprised when your two Staffies or Pit Bulls of the same age and sex start fighting and enjoying it. What did you expect?

  5. Please stop getting puppies and refusing to take them to puppy classes or for walks until they have had all their vaccinations. The socialisation period ends at 14 weeks and waiting until after vaccinations will be too late. Your dog WILL end up with social problems. The risk of contracting diseases is comparatively small – far more dogs are euthanized due to behaviour problems than ever die from the diseases one vaccinates for.

  6. Please stop buying puppies from backyard breeders. Please stop buying puppies without seeing the mother and father first and being happy with their temperament and health. Genetics matter!

  7. Please stop taking behaviour and training advice from your breeder, vet, groomer, neighbour or the guy in the park with 6 dogs. Please do start taking behaviour advice from qualified professionals with actual advanced certificates in dog behaviour and training issued by reputable institutions.

  8. Please stop watching the Dog Whisperer, a man who has been proved to have zero understanding of learning theory, canine communication and the emotional states which drive behaviour when he was tested. Please just stop!

  9. Please stop calling your multi-dog household a “Pack”. Dogs don’t form packs – they are not wolves. Just move on already.

  10. Please stop listening to people who say that you need to dominate your dog in order to have him behave. Dominance theory has been debunked – ages ago. Talking about dominance as a way of training a dog or modifying behaviour is as idiotic as a scientist saying the world is flat and the sun goes around the earth. Seriously – there is no debate about it anymore – just let it go!

 

So after all that, let me say thank you – thank you to those clients who keep us sane. Thank you to those clients who ask for our advice BEFORE they add a new dog to the household. Thank you to those who come to class week in and week out, rain or shine, to work and have fun with their dogs and show us what people and dogs are capable of when a little effort and willingness to listen is applied. Thank you to all those clients who read our notes and reports and ask questions and have a genuine interest in the answers. Thank you to those who after starting off down the wrong path were willing to listen and allow us to help. You give us hope!

Please just STOP!

Maybe it is a reflection of the time of year - we are all tired from working hard and non-stop since January. Perhaps it is a reflection of the state of the world (Can someone not just put Zuma and Trump in a spaceship and send them to find a new planet or something?). Anyway, there are a few things which I and many of my colleagues have been trying to communicate to dog owners and potential dog owners for year, but that are just not getting through. Somewhere the message is being lost or ignored and the frustration of having to try to resolve the same old completely preventable problems makes me want to run away. But before I do, let me try one more time to say what so many behaviour professionals have been trying to say very politely for a very long time – but this time, no niceties, just telling it like it is!

Kommetjie Canine College

Kommetjie

Cape Town

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