What do no-pull harnesses, dog collars, pee trays, playpens, crates, dog shoes, anti-bark collars and even kibbles have in common? Simple, they are all created by humans, not the dog! These are tools invented by us for our convenience and to control the dog.

When we welcome the puppy home, many of us, especially first-time guardians expect the puppy to readily accept whatever we impose onto them. Dog collar or harness, playpen or crate, pee tray, fashion accessories.

The puppy never expect that the weird thing around his neck or body is meant to control his freedom, the constant jerking on the leash means he was not supposed to pull while walking, the rectangular plastic mesh is where the potty area is and not the grass, the rubber slots under their paws where they sweat under this hot weather are shoes meant to keep them clean due to our OCD, the fencing surrounding him is a playpen meant to restrict his access so he will “know” his boundaries, the dry pellets were meant to feed him through his entire life so he will “learn” not to be a picky eater and we “pop” the leash when they make “mistakes”.

While we implement the equipment and tools invented by us onto the dogs, we often overlooked the fact what we are bringing home is an animal, a species that is completely different from human beings. A sentient species that have their own physical and emotional needs different from ours.

We bring the animal to our home, a new place so foreign to them and we implement all kinds of boundaries so they will “learn”. We are already controlling their movements, where they sleep, what they eat, how and where they walk, where and when they potty yet without first considering their physical and emotional needs as an animal that’s trying their best to tell us how they feel by barking and other signs. 

We hire trainers to solve the “behaviour issues”. We sometimes even resort to punishment such as leash-jerking or using shaker cans.

The next time the puppy is barking, missing the potty area or is pulling on the leash, stop the punishment or jerking on the leash, take a moment to think from the dog’s point of view and what they are actually trying to tell us. They are not trying to be stubborn and give us a hard time, they ARE having a hard time.

"Beneath every behaviour, there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need, rather than focus on the behaviour, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom."

Ashleigh Warner