6 Dog Related Topics That Will Always Create Controversy

These topics will always spark controversy between dog lovers and dog parents. Which side of the fence are you on? 

There are many controversial topics in the dog world, but these seem to spark the most debate. Like raising children, there are hundreds of ways to raise a dog, and most parents believe that they are providing the absolute best care, which can often lead to heated discussions with other parents.

These topics are commonly brought up when dog parents meet, whether it be at the dog park, chatting with friends, or even online. 

Here are six dog related topics that will always create controversy.

1. Breeding vs. Adoption

This topic might be the most discussed out of the eight.

Breeding by definition is “the activity of controlling the mating and production of offspring of animals.” This practise is common, and has been for hundreds of years. When most people hear the word “puppies,” they generally associate it with breeders, as this is what society has considered the norm for so long. However, the issues with breeding -whether they be moral, ethical, or population based- are often used in counter when the topic is brought up in conversation.

Let’s look at the undeniable issues regarding the breeding of dogs.

Breeding in general isn’t exactly a pleasant term when you truly think about it. Breeding is essentially purchasing two or more unaltered dogs, and forcing them to produce offspring. Breeding is practised to produce the strongest, most attractive, and genetically pure puppies, and, more often than not, mating is forced upon the female dog. For these dogs, mating, pregnancy, and birth are part of the job description, whether they consent or not. Imagine if humans worked this way? 

On top of forced mating, breeding is one of the leading causes of animal homelessness. Though these two ideas may not seem connected, they are directly related. The more dogs and puppies purchased from breeders denies homeless animals the same opportunity. When those homeless animals are not adopted and spayed or neutered, they continue to live on the streets, eventually producing their own homeless offspring.

There is also the controversy around “backyard breeding.” By law, a breeder must obtain licenses, be registered in a breeder database, and may have to pass some inspections before they can run their own operation. Many of these breeders require parents to sign contracts stating that their puppies must be vetted and spayed/neutered by a certain age, preventing the dog from producing offspring in the future. However, illegal backyard breeding operations usually do not provide such a contract, and the puppies will never be fixed. This may eventually contribute to the population of homeless animals.

Want To Know More About Adoption?

Did you know that one female dog and her puppies can produce 67,000 puppies within just six years? By purchasing a puppy from a breeder, you are potentially denying 67,000 homeless dogs their forever families.

If you want to know more about homeless dogs, the benefits of rescue, and some great organizations working to reduce the epidemic of homeless pets, check out places in your area

2. Body Modification

Body modification or cosmetic alteration performed on pets is incredibly controversial, and more common than one would expect.

The practise of cropping ears and docking tails stems from breed standards, set by organizations like the American Kennel Club, and are performed daily by veterinarians and breeders. Breed standard is described as the “blueprint for an animal fit for the function it was bred”: an archaic idea considering many of these dogs no longer perform their “intended function.” What this truly means is that dogs of certain breeds must appear a certain way, whether it requires body modification or not. According to the American Kennel Club, one cannot legally breed or show a dog that does not match its breed standard.

For many dogs, this requires painful and potentially harmful cosmetic surgery in order for their ears and tail to appear “adequate.” Fortunately for some dogs, these practises have been made illegal in certain municipalities, despite breed standard.

How Much Do You Really Know About Cosmetic Alterations On Dogs?

Whether you are new to the dog world or a seasoned professional, there is always more to learn about our furry companions, and how to properly care for them! If you want to know more about body modifications and even their psychological affects on dogs, do your research

3. Training Tools

We live in an era where there are dozens of unique training tools for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Training your dog has never been easier, due to all of these fabulous resources. Each one has been designed to suit a certain type of dog, or correct a specific behavior, making it simple to tackle problems as they arise. However, many of these training tools have been deemed “dangerous” or “inhumane” by uneducated dog lovers and parents, who have no experience with them.

Let’s look at two of the most controversial training tools.

Prong Training Collars

Prong training collars, often referred to as “pinch collars,” are a useful tool for owners of powerful dogs, or dogs with tendencies to pull or react while walking on leash. Though these collars may look intimidating -and we’ve all seen the gruesome photos of dogs with holes in their necks- they are harmless when used correctly.

The collar sits just below the dog’s ears around the throat. There should be enough room between the prongs and the dog’s neck to wiggle the collar with ease, and slide it around the dog’s neck. The collar should not be in the same position as a regular collar, nor should it be so tight that it is pulling the skin.

One of the main misconceptions about these collars is that they should always be tight. This is a dangerous misconception, as it can lead to potential injury. As well, if the training collar is too tight, or you are holding the collar tightly at all times, the function of the collar is completely lost. The collar is intended to be used as a reminder to dogs who pull. To accomplish this, the collar and leash should remain loose until the dog begins to pull forward. The collar should be tugged back quickly (but not too hard) with one jerking motion as a quick reminder. Many dogs wear these collars as a reminder to walk politely on leash without the owner even having to pull backwards. 

The issues with prong collars completely revolve around human error. If the collar is not used correctly, left on an unsupervised dog, or a dog who is playing, or used on a tethered dog, the damage could be serious. The images displaying dogs with injuries from these collars are caused by misuse, and are not to be blamed on the tool itself. Many people ask if they are sharp. No, they are not sharp. The prongs are, in fact, very dull and not capable of puncturing skin. Using the appropriate sized collar (larger prongs for larger dogs) is key to using this tool successfully and safely. 

Electric Training Collars

Electric training collars, or ‘e-collars’, are given the worst reputation of all training tools. Why? Because people don’t understand them. 

E-collars are often referred to as “shock collars,” which is a rough start for any subject. Yes, e-collars have a function that can be described as a shock. However, this is an exaggeration. The “shock” described is actually a muscle stimulation – similar to one used to stimulate blood flow during physiotherapy. The prongs, which sit on the skin –not in- use electricity to stimulate the muscles in the neck. This is used as a method to distract the dog from either performing a bad behavior, or to gain the attention of the dog for recall. Though this stimulation is a function, many pet parents use it as a last resort or “panic button” when the dog is about to put itself in harm’s way, such as getting into a fight. 

So, if the “shock” function isn’t commonly used, then what is? Well, what most people don’t understand about e-collars is that they have a very useful, very gentle, vibrate function!

The vibrate function on an e-collar is the most commonly used of the two and is 100% humane. The vibration works in a similar way as the stimulant, and is used as a gentle reminder to the dog that they are either about to perform a negative behavior, or their owner needs their immediate attention. This is a great way to recall your dog if they are out of earshot, or to distract your dog from a potentially negative situation, such as chasing a small animal, or becoming toy possessive. This function has revolutionized dog recall training, and has done some pretty amazing things for the dog world

What Kinds Of Dogs Benefit Most From E-Collars

Almost all dogs can benefit from e-collar training, but there are two in particular that stand out from the rest.

Hunting Dogs – Hunting dogs often travel long distances from their owners, and can potentially find themselves in dangerous situations because of this. A hunting dog owner needs to be able to recall his dog at all times, whether his dog is in earshot or not. Dog whistles can only do so much. By training a hunting dog to recall with an e-collar, he is able to continue his duties without his owner worrying about being able to recall him or not.

Deaf Dogs – Many deaf dogs would not be able to lead fulfilling lives without e-collars. The vibrate function allows them to explore off leash without the owners having to worry about making eye contact. As many deaf dogs are trained with hand signals, it is imperative that the owner is able to get their attention. Deaf dogs often find themselves in dangerous situations due to their lack of hearing, and the vibrate function on the e-collar allows the owner to give their dog warning. This is incredibly useful if a deaf dog is approaching an aggressive dog, but cannot hear the dog’s growling, or the other owner yelling “my dog isn’t friendly.”

Any tool can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Education is key.

4. Training Methods

If there is one thing that can be said about “proper” dog training, it’s that every trainer believes they have the best method. Whether the person is educated, famous, has years of experience, or simply reads a lot, they will believe that their training practises are the most effective ones possible. However, properly training your dog has little to do with your knowledge of dog training, and more to do with how well you know your dog.

Like children, every dog will learn differently, and you must cater to their capabilities in order to successfully train them. Without first understanding your dog, you are setting everyone up for failure. Once you feel like you know your dog, his behavior, what needs to be addressed, and how he retains information the best, you will be able to begin the training process.

There are many labels for different methods of training like “positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, behavior adjustment training, etc.” Though many people believe that one, some, or none are better than others, the key to properly training your dog is combining them based on what you know about your dog’s learning capabilities.

There is a large difference between behavioral adjustment training and abuse. You should never inflict pain upon your dog as a means of training. If you are unsure of whether or not you are capable of training your dog properly, consult a professional. 

How To Know If Your Dog Needs Training

Dogs, like people, should always be learning and maintaining learned behaviors. If you are unsure of whether or not your dog needs training,  ask a pet care specialist.

5. Care Standards

As dog parents, we do what we can with the resources we have. Many of us go above and beyond to ensure that our dogs have the absolute best care possible. However, many aren’t capable, or don’t understand what is needed to give their dog the best life.

For example, some dog parents will spend hundreds of dollars per month on top-of-the-line dog food made from whole ingredients. They will make sure the food is free of fillers like grains, soy, corn, additives, and preservatives, and they will be mindful of their dog’s allergies or sensitivities. On the other hand, some dog parents will purchase the largest bag of food for the lowest price, in order to let their dog “free graze.” The second parent may believe that they are doing what is best for their pup by allowing him to eat whenever he wants, and they may be unaware of potential health complications.

Care standards are a touchy subject, because many parents truly want what is best for their pup. They may just need a little more education!

That is why it is undeniably important to research the food your dog eats, and to find a protein and feeding schedule that works well with his system. Though the healthy food may be more expensive, it will save you thousands of dollars in vet bills for the future, and will allow you to live more quality years with your pup.

What Should Your Dog Eat Or Not Eat?

There are many human whole foods that can benefit your pup, but there are also ones that can harm him. If you want to know more, check out Google, I hear it knows everything

6. Breed Specific Legislation

Breed Specific Legislation(BSL) will always be a controversial topic in the dog world, whether you are pro or anti-pit bull. BSL by definition is “a law that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as ‘dangerous’ breeds or types of dogs.” The word appearance is key here! Breed Specific Legislation targets dogs that look a certain way, rather than dogs who act a certain way, and is used as a “preventative measure”, rather than a consequence for actions.

BSL and breed bans are not only ineffective, but expensive, and harmful to everyone involved. They often tear apart families, and are solely responsible for the deaths of thousands of beloved pets, and millions of homeless dogs. There is also undeniable evidence that BSL has no actual effect on reducing the risk of dog attacks in any given area.

Though these topics will always remain controversial in the dog world, they should be openly discussed. Knowledge and open-mindedness is important when raising a dog, and working together to find a solution to these controversial topics brings dog parents closer together.