Collar or harness?

Collar or harness?
There is no dilemma if we respect our dog. The use of a collar involves grabbing the dog by the neck…It’s sheer existence predicates possession, implies manipulation, indicates submissiveness and symbolizes slavery.

By eleni Kaspiri 11/13/2022, translated by Evi Kapanieri

The collar on a dog’s neck is the hallmark of a life in submission…

In my personal cartography, through my long involvement with dogs and humans and according to my experiences; the way we treat dogs, does not pay them the respect they deserve!
And I am not talking about the abuse and mistreatment that are clearly obvious; and that are illegal and condemnable, anyway! Nor about humans that got a dog for some “use”, and hence, as owners or masters of him, they have (so they believe) the right to treat him as they please..
I am talking about all of us, who brought a dog into our life as a companion and we say that we love him. And I am talking about behaviors we consider negligible (as if they are insignificant) and we don’t realize that we hurt him and ruin our relationship with him.
We consider it normal and alright to suppress his needs, to violate his boundaries, to deprive him of his freedoms, to ignore his desires, to get angry with his choices, to restrain all his spontaneity, to prohibit him from behaving naturally!
These behaviors are subserved with a tool - “aid” and its use (in my opinion) is a great proof of our ugly behavior.
I am referring to the plain collar or neckband we see on the neck of every dog (apart from some very few exceptions) and which is used at all times and under all circumstances!
The image of the dog in a collar is the one that prevails; it is the known and the ordinary.
We become accustomed to what we see and what we experience. And the familiar is very powerful!
I will try with very simple words and through some examples to explain the reasons why (in my opinion and through my experiential knowledge) we should not wear a collar on our dog.
I have come across and heard many uses for it!

--The (good) end which, however, does not justify the means…

-A lot of dog parents, mainly from habit, but also for convenience and due to misinformation, wear it to take their dog out for a walk.
There are, also, those that have a specific reason:
-Because the dog doesn’t want the harness.
-For safety, because the dog has escaped from the harness during a walk..
-So that the dog doesn’t pull.
-So that they can “handle” big sized dogs, which they say are impossible to “manage”.
-So that they can get a hold of him, if, and wherever it is needed..
-So that they can attach the tag with their information on it, in case they lose him.
And finally, those who wear it for aesthetic reasons.
All these people have good intentions, they have a good reason for doing it and they do not want to torture their dog.
However, they end up dragging him by the neck and essentially choking him...
Just briefly, I will mention that the little tag can be attached on the harness as well.
That there are reliable and safe harnesses so that he cannot take them off, and that there is a nice way for him to accept it, as well, in case he doesn’t like it (in the beginning).
I will also add that they pull equally with the collar -perhaps even more- and that many dogs have escaped from it too.
As for handling big sized dogs?
I have seen such dogs on a collar, pulling as if they were dragging a carriage...

The collar as a symbol of submission...

"We didn’t want to, but the specialist told us that it is mandatory to wear a collar on her, because she needs to understand she is “subordinate”...
This is what the mom of a little puppy student of mine told me.
The "specialist" was a vet... (no comments...).
How old-fashioned is this theory?
How anthropocentric is this perception?
Not that it surprises me... It is very often that I’m being told by dog parents that they have received similar obsolete advice by veterinarians.

--It is also a "training" tool
It is also used in "training" that involves corrections.
Of course the choke collar holds the first place, as a correction tool, but also the “innocent” and “harmless” collar, serves their purpose equally well, alongside with the damage it creates...
These are mainly its uses!

Let’s see the impacts now...

1. Health

According to studies conducted by vets and other professionals it is proven that the pressure exerted on the neck can have many negative effects on one's health.
The sudden, but also the mild pulling as well, exert pressure to many other organs. (larynx, thyroid gland, trachea, esophagus, neck area, glands, veins etc.) In some dogs it causes long-term cough, respiratory issues, myoskeletal problems; a lot may vomit from the continuous, intense pressure and many other problems.
Recently, I met with mister Dimitris who wanted to train his dog because he was pulling with all his might..
Once they came closer, I heard the dog coughing incessantly.
I was almost positive what the reason was, but I asked, anyway: “Why is he coughing? Is there a problem?”
He replies: “No, I’ve taken him to the vet. I guess he does it because he pulls and he is pressured on the neck…”
But then, my dear person; you see it, you understand it and you continue to wear it on him?
However, I will not analyze the veterinary part- a vet is the real expert on this matter.
But, seriously, does it need actual specialized knowledge or the opinion of an expert for someone to realize the obvious?
If you grab someone by the neck (anyone) and you pull, pressure or grasp him, then it is absolutely natural that he will feel pain, he will suffocate, his breath will be cut. And if it’s too rough, you will injure him, as well.
Let alone if it’s done for a long period of time and continuously.
Why should it be different for the dog?
Or what about those other arguments people use: He is a dog, he doesn’t feel pain, he has a thick neck (do they mean made by iron?), he doesn’t choke, he is resilient and other such silly things… Can we find any logic here? I believe they don’t even deserve to be commented upon.
Of course he feels pain and chokes and suffocates and of course he is tortured! And we have a moral responsibility not to cause any of these to him, and there is no excuse in doing so.
Just like Peter Singer said, (one of the most important representatives for the ethical treatment of animals),
“All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”
Some dog parents say:
“My dog walks calmly, he doesn’t pull”.
And yet, there will be some times that he will pull because he will get excited by something he will see, hear, smell. No matter how trained he is.
A dog is a living being (not a robot), which everyday comes across and learns new things, collects experiences, interacts with the environment and feels different emotions.
And there are always immeasurable factors, unpredictable events, difficult conditions, bad moments, unique situations, unforeseen incidents.
Something might scare him and he will pull with all his might in order to escape the situation.
Let alone, the dog that already has behavioral issues!
Moreover, his dog parents pull him, because he might be going somewhere they don’t want him to, because they are in a hurry or because they themselves are anxious, or afraid.
A while ago, I was at the park for a training session and I saw a lady with a large sized dog who, seeing the dog-student I was with, started pulling very strongly in order to come close to us and interact.
The lady, however, for her own reasons, prevented him from doing so and from the intense pressure on his neck, the dog started vomiting!
You see everywhere people with dogs pulling! Each pulling one another... It’s like a race of who will overpower the other…
And this reflects the degree of disconnection, as well as the lack of communication...
And what an ugly image it is to see them being held by the neck…
They take him for a walk to please him, however, they end up choking him...
Some say: "He also pulls with the harness”. Yes, if you haven’t taken the time to teach him to walk calmly. But the bottom line is, that with the harness you will not torment him..
And what a sad image it is to see a child doing this!
A few days ago, I saw a dad down the street holding a little child (who was around 5-6 years old) by the hand and on the other hand he was walking a small puppy (1 kilo) wearing a collar and he was essentially dragging it.
After a while he gives the leash to the child, which does exactly the same thing. It started dragging the puppy by the neck, while the puppy was whimpering.
There were so many people around, but no one paid attention. Perhaps they thought it was normal…Or they thought they weren’t entitled to say anything (so they thought…) .
Children copy what we do!
Is this how we want them to grow up? Not respecting those that don’t have a choice?
And if this puppy “tomorrow” bites the child - and not only the child - will this be really his or her fault?
A Chinese proverb says “Don’t confine your children to your learning, for they were born in another time”.

2. Psychology - behavior

Negative associations during walks
I have been receiving so many phone calls from dog parents, telling me about their dog that has developed phobias or aggressiveness, and that they don’t understand the reason why.
They say: “But he was very social both with children and also with other dogs.
He was so happy to see people pet him. He did not have any bad experiences during any of his walks. I love him and I have never treated him badly. What happened suddenly?”
Nothing happened “suddenly”... The leash that we hold in our hand and connects us to our dog functions like a “telegraphic wire”.
We transmit - transfer everything that we feel and we pass messages to him depending on our feelings and our behaviors.
Dogs learn by association! When a dog sees something and, he either wants to go and communicate or just stand and observe it, and we pull him (essentially we are choking him), we give him negative input.
Even when we are going towards the direction he wants, yet, he is pulling even harder.
All this suffocation, this discomfort, the pain he feels, he associates with what he sees in front of him.
And so, he starts to be cautious, anxious and fearful and in the end he will develop phobias or aggression. And depending on the dog, others will scare the “enemy” away and others will run away from what causes them pain!
And so the walk becomes even more unpleasant and painful for the dog.
Picture the following:
A parent walks with their child towards the playground. The child starts to run joyfully. He tells the child “wait”, but he or she won’t hear a thing because of all the excitement they are feeling. Then, instead of taking the child by the hand nicely, he grabs him or her by the hair, or the ear in order to “slow” him/her down and, also, to discipline him/her …And the child reacts, yells, cries, tries to free himself/herself.
He took his child out to enjoy himself/herself but eventually he ruined any mood for joy and fun.
(This is not hypothetical, I have seen this happen) .
How would you feel if you saw a parent outside doing this to his child? Bad, I would like to believe.
However, we do the same to our dog everyday when we take him or her out for a walk. We cut every sense of joy and pleasure, when we drag him by the neck.
Do you think there is any difference?
In our first session dog parents arrive with their dogs who are pulling, choking, panting, coughing, reacting to stimuli, showing anxiety, feeling nervous, irritated and some even scared.
The humans, equally anxious, pull them and choke them even more.
One reacts to the other's action.
Some, very few, follow him running because they feel sorry for him. (They feel sorry, but continue to wear a collar on him...).
When the collar is replaced by a harness and the one meter lead with a longer one, then you immediately see “another” dog! He transforms!
Since he no longer frets, doesn't choke and stops hurting...He calms down!
And at the same time he isn't repressed and he has freedom of movement to smell, explore, communicate and practice natural behaviors. All that he wants and needs in other words!
And so once he feels safe, he slowly starts walking in a calmer way, sniffing, listening, co operating and moving closer to them!
And all these happen in a nice way, without any his own will...
When we treat him nicely, politely and we respect his needs and feelings, he "responds" in the same way.
They call it communication!!!

A walk is a time of enjoyment and not a forced task…

A walk with a dog should be enjoyable, interesting and quality time and not a torture to endure!
Put a safe harness on him and hold him like you hold a little child tenderly by the hand, or a friend by the shoulder, and walk together, nicely!
And if he pulls, it is not his fault!
He is faster, he wants to run when he sees an open space, he wants to enjoy the environment. However, many times it is also due to being inside the house for a lot of hours.
And if he goes 2 steps or 3 further, it’s not the end of the world.
Ignore some things that he enjoys and that don't hurt anyone. Don't exhaust your strictness on him.
Allow him to be a dog!
He has the need to live his life, to communicate, to collect joyful memories.
He wants to sniff... First he meets the world by smell, where he collects all the information he needs. Don't deprive him of this, because this creates anxiety in him.
In every walk the dog "reads the neighborhood newspaper".
He is informed about everything just like we use the internet.

They tell me very often: "I see people walking outside with their dogs in a nice way and I feel jealous. Why doesn’t my dog do the same?"
Have you asked any of these dog parents why this is happening? Could it be because they had the patience to help him learn?
Could it be that those dogs have decompressed after a long walk or have already been exercised and were tired? Perhaps some are old or ill?
Or, worse, could it be that they have been subjected to so much violence and harsh corrections and have given up on reacting?
Don't jump into hasty conclusions and don't torment your dog with everything you see and hear, without knowing what the situation is all about.
Get informed by reliable sources and show him in a nice and comprehensible way how you can walk together calmly and enjoy your time without any party feeling pushed around!
This is the essence of a walk!
All the rest is torment, competition, and fighting.

Negative association also with visitors

Another thing that a lot of dog parents wonder about, is why their dog, suddenly and for no apparent reason, decided not to like visitors, while previously he was very friendly towards them.
Here goes the word "suddenly" again...
In the question where is the dog, I receive the reply:
"Because he got bigger and started jumping on them from excitement, I would hold him by the collar so he wouldn't annoy them or even escape from the open door."
So, here is the answer to your question dear parent. It's not something that happened suddenly... without knowing you made him dislike your visitors.

3. Threatening action

Grabbing a dog by the collar in order to stop him from doing something, or to guide him somewhere else, is always going to be the easy solution!
That is why almost everyone wears it on their dogs all the time. Even those that take him out for a walk with a harness, they always have a collar on him as well.
However, when we grab the dog by the collar (neck) it is always a threatening action!
A dog will grab his prey by the neck in order to kill it.
What are we doing? Aren’t we reinforcing this instinct by grabbing him by the neck and scaring him?
And the reply by some…: "Yes, but his mom also grabs him by the neck to teach him...".
No mom does this in order to scare her child.
She will do it, for example, to move her pup away if she senses any danger. A mom can do this but only she knows how to!
No one else does and shouldn't do it, for any reason.

And of course the relationship with the guardian is damaged since he no longer trusts him.
There is a large list of people that have been bitten -either themselves or another member of the family- and they can't figure out the reason why and moan about it, since they have the dog as their child, as they say.
When did he bite them?
The moment they grabbed him by the collar so he wouldn't escape the door; to take him in the car, to take him off the couch, to put him in the bathtub, to take him out the balcony, to put him in the crate, etc, etc.

There are also many of those who get bitten when they just go to pet him. And not only do they wonder, but also get angry. "Suddenly, while I went to pet him...He bit me for no reason...He is ungrateful, vengeful, sneaky" and other similar accusations..
Labels... Labels... humans...
A dog is none of these. I’ll sadden you, but all these are a “privilege” of our “superior” kind.
And here, again, the word "suddenly". However, nothing happens “suddenly”. A dog has a very rich repertoire of behaviors and gives a warning; he informs. You are the ones that don't know (didn't go into the trouble of learning) how to read and interpret what he is trying to say and feel. Unless he stopped using this way of communicating after punishment...
Also don't fall into the "trap" of anthropomorphism, because you do the same mistakes that cost him his quality of life, but also your bond with him.
And of course what he does isn't without a reason...
When a dog has associated this action with pain and threat, it is absolutely normal to be cautious and scared and try to avoid it.
Don't get angry with him, he doesn't want to hurt you. He is only trying to protect himself.
You approach him with good intentions. How can the dog know this when at other times (with the same movement) you grab him by the collar and pull- scare him?

4. Dangers

Because, as I previously said, a collar is a permanent “accessory” on the dog, there is always the danger of him being caught somewhere and choking!
It is something our minds don’t commonly think about, but unfortunately it has happened!
Once I was training a German shepherd. Mister Kostas being of an older age and with traditional ways, and although I explained to him, he didn't want to take the collar off.
Time went by and mister Kostas called me devastated.
"I thought of you...How right you were...The collar got caught on the balcony railings and if I wasn't there he would have suffocated! I threw away the damn thing"
Another hunting dog got caught on the metal chair in the garden.
If there weren't 4 people there to hold her and someone to cut the collar she would have suffocated.
I am aware of at least 3 more situations

5." Training"...The collar as a corrective tool...

The use of violence in order to enforce what you want, cannot be considered training...This is crystal clear!
"Training" in which corrections are used, involves a range of techniques, like abrupt pulling, jerking, shaking, hanging (spinning them around like an “airplane”... as they name it) in order to correct them!
They strangle him in order to learn…
I remember the words of a friend, who happened to witness such a horrific situation: "I could not believe my eyes! He had hung the dog from the collar and was spinning him around and around as if he was a toy doll...
I was shocked when I saw what they were doing to the poor dog... This is the highest grade of abuse!
Why didn't the human who had this dog protest? I don't understand... What kind of training is this?"

You are not the only one wondering this my friend...
All these years, unfortunately, I have been receiving numerous calls from distressed people, who after this kind of training got back a "ruined" dog! (I give you their exact words).
And with what else could they have ended up with anyway?
Anything that is done violently, is doomed to fail and expected to lead to disorders.
How hard is it for a human to understand that no one learns when you grab them by the neck?
He is not in a position to understand, when he is dealing with difficult emotions and situations.
He hears, but he cannot understand what you are telling him from all the turbulence, fear, and anxiety he feels.
He is in a position of defense.
From the outside it looks like he is co-operating (and they believe he has learned...) because he doesn't have any other choice...
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary. The evil it does is permanent". (Mahatma Gandhi)
So if the dog experiences these situations and events that he cannot handle (threats, force, violence) then it is sure that he will develop anxiety and sooner or later aggressiveness or passivity. He will look for different ways to escape the problem.

People tell me their sorrow -most of them with tears in their eyes: "When he saw the "trainer" he would hide...he grabbed him by the collar and pulled him forcefully anyway...He dragged him to take him for training...He was scared and crying...I cried too, seeing him like this...He was telling me not to feel sorry for him, it is for his own good and this way he will learn...He bit him...He bit me too... etc, etc, etc."
What do you expect after so much pain, so much fear and so much suffocation your poor dog experienced?
They told you you will take him back "fixed" in a few days and you agreed on this? You believed them?
And what is a dog? Is he a piece of furniture you order in the dimensions, color and type of wood you like and you have it delivered at the agreed time?
Why did you allow all this?
"He told me that the dog has to understand I am the leader. I didn't know any better..."
When you don't know, then listen to your heart. And run away quickly from these horrific practices.
Don't let anyone touch your dog!
This old fashioned and fallacious theory on dominance (dog-wolf) has ruined millions of dogs and relationships.

And not to mention that some of these people are presenting themselves as positive trainers...
"He told me he is a positive trainer..." or "But, he had treats with him, wasn't he positive?"
I hear this more and more from dog parents these days.
And when he was not walking close to him? I ask...
"Then he would pull him abruptly with the leash or grab him in the air so he could position the dog next to him again."
On one hand the sausage and on the other the flat collar (or choke collar) with harsh and violent corrections...
The world is ignorant and dogs and humans are suffering from it!

Unfortunately, these things are happening in the year 2022... and the irony...they are not taking place using any medieval equipment, but the "innocent" collar!
This training was in its "glory" in previous decades. Back then, when beating, bullying, threats and insults were the pedagogical methods in schools.
The time when we had black and white television, we didn't have any mobile phones, no computers, tablets, internet etc. we didn't have any access to information and knowledge was limited.
The years went by and everything changed since then. We evolved, we moved forward.
Why is it that, regarding dogs, people stubbornly insist on staying in another era? And while it is scientifically proven that a dog can learn in a positive and friendly way?
Why do they insist on perpetuating and maintaining a conventional mentality which is completely outdated?
And why do they insist, in a society where everything is changing at the speed of light, to call abuse, training?
It's terrible that so much violence is hidden behind such a great word!
Someone said: "If future generations look back and see how we treated animals, they will be terrified..."

Training is transmission of knowledge, it is teaching, it is guidance and it should happen inside a relationship of mutual respect between teacher and student!

The trainer- teacher, should care for his dog-students and bend down to them with kindness!
He should observe and try to interpret their behaviors, to feel their emotions and show empathy and respect to their needs, their diversity, their personality, their individuality!
With his kindness, learning becomes fun.
Only then can students be relaxed, feel safe, trust him, will want to do anything with joy and behave in a positive way. Then he will have succeeded!
Because, just like Aristotle said, training the mind without training the heart, is no training at all.
The teacher guides the dog parents basically, because they are the ones that will teach him, essentially. It is important for them to learn to communicate in order to create a beautiful relationship and coexistence with him!
This is his greatest reward!
We all create the culture we want to live in. Every teacher - trainer leaves their own mark and it is in their hand how their students will remember them (dog and human).

6. You don’t grab by the neck any one you love!

I ask the dog guardians:
Do you love your dog?
“Of course I do love him! He is my child”.
And I continue: Would you grab your child, your partner, your brother, your friend by the neck in order to guide them somewhere or teach them something?
The answer is always: “No, no, no…Of course not”
Then why do you do this to your dog-child (as you call it)?
How can he receive your love, when you drag him by the neck? Even if you don’t have any harmful intention or purpose.
You categorically reply you wouldn’t grab anyone, because you know very well that you grab by the neck (anyone) in order to force them, threaten them, scare them and in the worst case strangle them.
The only nice, enjoyable and polite movement toward the neck is a caress!
Or to put on, gently, a piece of jewelry. Nothing more...
What is everyone’s response? “I haven't thought of it like that…you are right…”
Some go and take it off immediately and others hug him and apologize to him.
So, how we treat him is what matters and not how we feel!
The fact that we love our dog and do so many things about him, cannot be equated with respect.
Besides, the way we love is so subjective...and let's not forget that most mistakes and the biggest crimes have happened in the name of love.
I go to houses where they have the dog living in a crate, they constantly drag him by the collar, they scold him for nothing and they tell me "I love this chap! I buy him the most expensive food, I have a huge box with toys, he has a plumed mattress with his name written on it, his collar is leather," and other similar things.

And somehow this is how we make the essential insignificant!
Because respect and kindness are something different!
They are...
What place he has in our life!
What are our reactions when he is naughty and misbehaving and when he completely understandably gets bored, tired, doesn't understand, doesn't want something!
How fair we are with him concerning his desires and decisions!
When we treat him with empathy and without having unreasonable demands in the difficulties he faces in order to fit in our own world.
How we feel when we make him afraid of us..
If we want him to live in a friendly or hostile environment!
All these mean respect!
And we don't meet it in loud actions, but in the small, simple, everyday ones. We all know what it means, but how many of us actually practice it?

7. We undermine him...

And although we have taken him into our life for beautiful reasons, we speak in the sweetest way about him, we say he is part of the family and other beautiful things, the way we treat him is not so lovely eventually…
We categorically state that, we wouldn’t grab anyone by the neck and we know it is a very ugly thing to do, however, we do this to our dog and we allow “experts” to do it and to torture him.
So there is a very clear difference between what we say and the way we act!
Who is this;
Have we wondered?
Ok... We spoke about habit, misinformation, convenience, “expert” advice.
Also a parent's strict attitude, who uses the same strict discipline with his child's upbringing (as some people tell me).
But how can we not realize that we are tormenting him?
Or even worse, to see it but still continue to do it?
Is it perhaps because deep inside we see ourselves as “superior” and we want to prove our “authority”?
This is what a lady who is a “superior” scientist (she is not the only one) told me a few days ago, when her dog bit her and she had to ask for help: “I love him to bits, but doesn’t he have to understand who has the authority?”
But there is no need my dear lady, the dog already knows…He understands a lot more than we think. Don’t you think he sees it, that he is weak and defenseless in our hands? That he has no choice?
Since we are holding the leash... Literally and figuratively!
Our physical power (we are larger, stronger, we take all the decisions, we do what we want to him etc.) is real and very apparent.
So the autarchy and authoritarian discipline are both unnecessary and have been proven ineffective and dangerous. (Both in dogs and children).
Parental care and guidance are the necessary ingredients, from a parent-guardian that will inspire trust, security, respect and warmth.
How does he feel?
Do we care how our dog feels?
What are the questions the dog parents ask, usually? If he is smart, if he will learn anything, if he will “fix” and if he will comply.
Very rarely will they ask me if I see him happy, sad, stressed or anything else. How he feels in other words!
Really... Do we allow him to feel?
Hector, a robust large sized dog, had some fears. In some situations he would start trembling and wanted to hide.
His dog parent, every time he saw him like this, started pulling him forcefully by the collar, and while he reacted, he hit him…and he was crying!
His dog parent got very angry with him, because his machismo could not accept it and his ego could not handle the fact that such a strong dog was scared and trembled like a fish…
(His spouse confided this to me...).
Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of similar situations.
How scary can it be to respond to fear and anxiety with violence?
You must respect the weak, the ones who don't have a choice, and not take advantage of their weakness, or “step over” them.
They call it justice...
“Don’t do what you don’t want to be done to you” they say...
Perhaps, just for once shouldn’t we try to put ourselves in his position?
Perhaps, then we might be able to see the mistakes and all the behaviors that don’t honor us but, especially, do not honor him?
Let’s think about this hypothetical scenario: If some other creatures (different from us and a lot bigger in size) from another planet, who thought that they were superior to us, came to earth, how would we feel if they had equipped us with collars and we were left to their mercy and in their mood to do anything they felt like doing?
A story for little kids you will say?
And yet…This is how our dog feels! Whether we understand it or not!
He is different, not inferior…
A dog may be different; another species, another language, other codes of communication, and he is for sure weak in our hands, but all these do not make him inferior to us, or less important.
They don’t make him (he is not) our property in order to treat it as we please, he is not close to us in order to serve us, he is not a soldier that executes orders, he is not a stuffed toy to stay still like a “statue”, he is not a robot to operate with the press of a button depending on our mood.
Science slowly “opens our eyes”, supporting the fact that animals are able to have cognitive, emotional and ethical abilities. And we might have some “unique” abilities, but animals have abilities and characteristics that we don’t.
"The fact that they may not understand us, while we do not understand them, does not mean our 'intelligences' are at different levels, they are just of different kinds. When a foreigner tries to communicate with us using an imperfect, broken, version of our language, our impression is that they are not very intelligent. But the reality is quite different,"
Anthropologist Maciej Henneberg, who specializes in human evolution, points out these thoughts, amongst others.
Everything I learned from dogs..
In my long-time journey with them, I had the luck and the joy to see how special creatures they are!
I was fascinated by their exceptional charismas and their sensitivity!
I was touched by their emotions which are superior and deeper than ours, because they are pure, real, without pretense and under conditions!
I was impressed by behaviors they do that look so much alike with ours!
I admired their communication skills!
I felt speechless so many times with things they are able to perceive and which we haven’t yet discovered!
I cried, when I saw how attuned they become with our emotions!
I saw so many things that connect us!
But ... I have also seen and lifted their pain... Numerous times...
They show it, they “scream” it in so many ways, but we don’t listen to them...
And if in the most vulnerable situations they dare - as their last resort and very naturally - to defend themselves, then we say they are problematic and we “charge” them with different (usually unsubstantial) characterizations, always judging according to our standards.
And without a second thought we will condemn them, because we believe we have every right to do so.
And of course we will excuse ourselves light heartedly for any bad behavior of ours.
It is worthy of mentioning here, that all those that call me for one last effort, before euthanasia or getting rid of the dog that bit (after his last drop of dignity was stepped on), all of them love him and he is their child…This is what they tell me…
Society still wants us to be the owners...
The truth is that we grew up with the prejudice that sees humans as the only privileged ones, the masters and the center of the universe and the dogs (and all animals) as inferior to us.
This is how we were taught and this is what we feel is right.
And unfortunately, society is not ready to accept some things as normal… yet …
As long as society insists we are owners of our dogs, with the blessings of legislation, the consent of the doctor and…the “permission of the police” it is going to take a long time…
And if some of us dare to say mother - father or parent, we will say it timidly, skittishly, because we are afraid they will mock us.
And undoubtedly the familiar is so strong and interventions are needed in order to change it. But it is important and necessary to be able to unlearn something that now might be old fashioned, problematic, wrong, fair or unethical.
I read somewhere that the illiterate of the 21st century are not the ones that cannot read or write, but those that are unable to learn, unlearn and then relearn.
Isn’t it perhaps time we unlearn things that do not serve us anymore and create problems for us?
And if we really want our words to have value, then we should show our dog, with actions, that he is worthy of respect and ethical treatment even if he's not the same as us.
No more just words...
What has real value is to be kind, compassionate, polite and fair with him!
This will not lower us in his eyes, but, on the contrary, will elevate us!!
He is a companion not a slave…
No more behaviors and “innocent aids” that do him wrong, undermine him, torture him.
The collar may not be to blame about everything, but definitely “supports” all these mentioned. Its use only creates problems and it is proven that it reinforces only negatively any pre-existing problem!
Its sheer existence on the neck predicates ownership, implies manipulation, indicates submissiveness, symbolizes enslavement.
The “seal” of a life in submission…This is what the collar is on his neck!!
That is why I strongly believe that it has no place neither on him, nor in our life!
He has the right not to be anyone’s property and we have the obligation to acknowledge this right.
A dog is (and should be) our family and not the poor relative; a companion and not a slave!!
He deserves to stand next to us proudly, dignified and happy! Nothing less!
Radical today, obvious tomorrow...
I know that the things that today seem far-fetched, extreme, radical or too emotional, tomorrow will be the obvious.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthy of sharing this planet with them.”
I hope it will not take long for the day to come that we will realize that the world does not belong to us…

Only for our dog we are the center of the universe!
The least we can do in return, is to “gift” him what he deserves anyway… “Unfettered Breaths”...

It is an essential ingredient for beautiful relationships, a chance to become better and a road that will lead us to a more humane and fair humanity!

Eleni Kaspiri
Positive dog trainer