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Twitter is all aflutter. Tweeps are tweeting and re-tweeting good news for dogs!

Since my last post was all about the insanity of dumbinance, ah, dominance, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity offer some refreshing good cheer. 

Within a few minutes of each other earlier today, some terrific dog tweeps I follow (and you should too!) pointed to three articles (posted just yesterday and today) heralding kindness, not dominance, not “pack power, and especially not so-called alpha leader energy, as being at the heart of great dog training. 

First, @urbandawgs@NicoleWilde, @LaynieDane, and @feafuldogs alerted followers that Paul Owens, the original dog-whisperer, is at the center of Tom Matlack’s post, “Are You An ‘Alpha’ Male?” on Huffington Post. Matlack notes:

Owens is on the front line when it comes to the family dog. He continues to espouse the teachings of King and Gandhi, whom he honors as shining examples of nonviolent alphas. By applying their nonviolent philosophy with a scientific approach to educating dogs, he is trying his best to dispel the idea that “might makes right” or that physical punishment and coercion are needed to properly train even the most fearful or aggressive dog.

Next, @ksdao and @davidthedogtrainer pointed to “Why not unleash kindness?” posted by Monica Collins in Boston.com. Collins says:

A woman I know is candid about her dislike for dogs. Nonetheless, she tells the story of a visit to pet-friendly friends who treat their dog with kindness and respect. The dog seems to take cues from this healthy atmosphere and is friendly and well-behaved.

And, finally, this amazing story, “Taming dogs with a mean streak“, at the Los Angeles Times by Kim Murphy about Steve Markwell’s Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington, was shouted out by @chibbard and @happyhealthypup, as well as all those above. Murphy tell us:  

The Olympic Animal Sanctuary caters to the worst of the worst from around the country: dogs that would be euthanized or turned away at any other shelter, dogs with records so bad no humane society would consider adopting them out. Markwell gets calls from animal control agencies all over the U.S. that have dogs fit for neither pound nor play yard. He responds only when he’s convinced it’s a dog with truly nowhere else to go…. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, with an arm covered in tattoos, Markwell looks like he could intimidate even some pit bulls. But, he said, the secret of taming the untamable is not being tough. It’s giving dogs their space until they’re ready to let him in, exuding quiet kindness …

Evidently, kindness works really well with “red-zone” dogs. How cool is that?

Happy reading. And, don’t forget to follow those wooferriffic dog tweeps on Twitter!

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4 Responses to “And another thing… Kindness Trumps Dominance!”

  1. It is good that the word is spreading that success can be had training dogs using kindness rather than force. I suppose this is the time of year for folks to be thinking about kindness and one advocate of non-violence, whose birthday they’ll be celebrating soon.

    Regarding the last fellow doing rescue work with ‘red zone’ dogs, I want to give the guy credit, but I get little red flags going off in my head about the scene. As stated in the article, dogs spent most of their lives in a cage. Regardless of whether I believe that any life is better than no life, I can’t help but wonder about the emotional, mental and physical effects of a caged life.

    I wonder what it must be like for a dog reactive dog to be caged in a place where it is surrounded by its triggers 24/7. I’m sure the article didn’t cover everything about the rescue but the description of the place didn’t sound very appealing to me, with little time for outside activity and what outdoor space that was available was wet and muddy (not that a do would necessarily care). I also believe that the best chance of having success helping these dogs involves the liberal use of play, exercise and training, I have to question how much of any of those things his dogs get.

    What of that litter of 7 week old pups that was already aggressive toward other dogs? Anyone who has worked with a damaged dog knows that it takes more than love and kindness to mend a broken brain. The challenge of helping just one dog learn appropriate behaviors can be overwhelming, never mind dozens of them. And if a dog is likely to change the chances are better if they are identified and worked with as young as possible.

    I don’t mean to disparage the guy since all I know of him is what I read in that article. My own dog’s hoarder openly solicited money (and got it) for her ‘sanctuary’ where she ‘specialized’ in ‘aggressive breeds’. When she had close to 500 dogs the conditions in which those dogs lived were finally exposed. Perhaps I’m jaded, but stories about any one person trying to ‘save’ large numbers of dogs, by housing and caring for them themselves, makes me want more information.

    • Debbie

      Thank you for your thoughtful and important comments. I have to agree that the environment doesn’t sound great for all the reasons you mentioned. Although, it’s difficult to know for sure what the scene is really like without seeing it. And, the story of your dog’s hoarder certainly gives pause.

      Maybe some of the people on twitter who know Steve and his sanctuary, or know of him, will comment.

  2. Amara says:

    Regarding Steve Markwell, he is not a hoarder, and the dogs are well-cared for. Check out the website for Olympic Animal Sanctuary, and also this interview: http://ideamensch.com/steve-markwell/ I think the article was a feel-good piece, not intended to detail the nitty gritty of daily operations there.

    Your concerns are reasonable, and certainly things that should be considered before offering support to an organization or individual claiming to do rescue work. I urge everyone to check out the organization’s website, I think it’s a worthy cause.

    • Hello Amara
      Thank you so much for your reply and link to the interview with Steve which was very interesting.
      I’ve heard good things from others about Steve as well.
      Thanks again, and I’m going to post a link to the interview on twitter.

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