Dogged: Readers sound off over allegations of animal abuse

Dec 1, 2011 at 4:00 am
They're animals, people! An excellent example showing just how precarious animal "rights" laws can be ["Established Dog Trainer in Lincoln County Fights Animal Abuse Charges," Nicholas Phillips]. Abuse is an extremely subjective word. If using a shock collar or heel stick to train a dog is abuse, is using a shock collar as a barrier device abuse? What about crating? What about using a choke chain? What about using a spray bottle to train a pet cat?

Animals are not our equals, and they do not have rights. Humans have a responsibility to treat them ethically for our own sake, not theirs. Ed did nothing wrong, and 99 percent of the planet's people would agree. Yet he was convicted because of stupid and irresponsible laws established by hypersensitive, overly emotional and uneducated people and organizations.
Weownem, via the Internet

What he said! Exactly. Also, using a whip to direct is very different from beating with said whip over the neck and head multiple times in a row. This does not teach the dog anything except to fear its attacker.
Cory, via the Internet

You Homo sapiens are sooo superior: If you think that the facts about animal suffering are simple, then please share. What do you know about the suffering of cockroaches and how they compare to those of cats or dogs? There is a vast amount that we do not understand about pain and suffering in the animal or insect kingdoms. But the more we know, the more conscious we become. And to deny that we know what we know, for the satisfaction of just drawing an arbitrary line underneath Homo sapiens and saying, "There, nothing below us has any rights; it's easier that way," is to opt for ignorance when there is an alternative to explore.
Sanjiv Bhattacharya, via the Internet

Fear of dog in 'em: Shock collars and punishment-based training are very controversial methods in training and are on their way out the door. The reason why, as behaviorists and biologists have uncovered, is that dogs learn much like we do. Punishing children to do their homework may get their homework done at the end of the night, but you have taught the child to fear homework time because of the inevitable punishment to come. It works the same with dogs. They are smarter than you are willing to give them credit for. The dog in question was trained with very strong emotions (fear and anger), and that is what will guide him in the field. The author pointed out that the trainer had at least one dog shot in the field, and I am not surprised. He has sent dogs out into the field working out of fear, all the more reason why positive reinforcement works better. Undoubtedly these animals will not perform consistently.
AshleyMarie, via the Internet

An Ed-ucation: To all who see Ed as a dog abuser, I know firsthand he is not. This man cried on the days he had to put his own two dogs down due to one waking up blind with a brain bleed and the other due to old age. This man had a dog in his kennel who tore the lower lip off a child, and he did not raise a hand to this animal. I know this because it was my child. Any other human would have turned around and taken that dog out to a field and not returned with it or put it down. To this day, that dog is still alive and thriving.
Koenemans, via the Internet

Second opinion: This isn't training. This guy lost his temper and beat the dog. It's that clear cut. The suggestion that you can train a dog not to "bolt" (I'd call it panicked flight, myself) by screaming at and beating him for several seconds after the fact is flatly ridiculous.

I'm a professional dog trainer who started off using more old-school methods with a lot of force and later adopted gentler techniques. Although I've abandoned the use of force in almost all training, I've used shock collars and still find a need for one every few years. I think that there's plenty of room for reasoned debate about the relative merits of physical punishment in animal training (especially if you concentrate on efficacy and leave ethics out of it), but — to meet even the most minimal definition of training — punishment has to be deployed with precise timing, and it has to be contingent upon the dog's behavior in a way that the dog can understand.

One could make a logical argument that Nelson's behavior just barely met that minimum standard at those times when he's using a really painful level of shock on that dog for a such a long period.
Jeff, via the Internet

Ed-ucation, Part II: Ed Nelson trained two of my dogs. I can tell you I trained dogs with him a lot of hours and know the actual person better than anyone commenting here. I can also say I have met few people who care more about dogs. I have seen Ed cry when giving a dog back to an owner because of the bond he builds with them. He'd gladly risk his his life in a minute to save a dog's life. Did he possibly go overboard on this dog? Maybe. Is this a normal practice for Ed, and does this merit criminal charges? Hardly.

First of all, this training can save a dog's life. In hunting situations, if a dog jumps in front of a shooter it gets shot. These aren't dogs who are just pets as many of you most likely have. By the way, there is nothing wrong with having just a pet. My wife has a little lap dog and it is great. These are working dogs and live for every minute of it. These dogs would rather die than not hunt. That passion has to be harnessed; however, and some dogs need a heavier hand than others. My dog was one of them. After she was almost shot on a hunt due to breaking at a shot, I knew she had to be brought under control or she wasn't going to make it. I can promise you my dog still loves Ed, and I will always respect him as a great trainer and huge dog lover.
mp, via the Internet