A two-year-old video of reported dog abuse recently resurfaced on Facebook and is sparking outrage among dog lovers as it goes viral across the internet. The video shows an animal trainer at The Academy of Canine Behavior in Washington repeatedly hitting a dog with a modified plastic bat during training.
The dog is clearly distressed and frightened in the video as the trainer delivers blow after blow. The owner of the training facility, Colleen McDaniel, says she only learned about the video recently when animal control showed up to investigate. She immediately fired the employee in the video who had worked at the facility for 15 years.
McDaniel said that, in the past, staff members struck walls with the modified Wiffle bats to make loud noises that were meant to get dogs’ attention or break up fights. They were not specifically intended to be used to directly hit dogs, and they are soft enough that they do not cause pain, only loud noises. Animal control investigated the incident and found that the trainer’s use of the bat did not rise to the level of animal cruelty or dog abuse as defined by law.
The dog in the video was being trained because of aggressive behavior, though making an aggressive dog feel trapped, afraid, and unable to figure out how to make the punishment stop seems like a very poor way to correct unwanted behavior and a very good way to make aggression worse. Some have claimed that this is a form of “alpha training,” a technique popularized by television dog trainer Cesar Millan that has been criticized by many members of the dog training community as being flawed, causing dogs to behave out of fear and submission, rather than a desire to please or succeed. Even for alpha training, the methods seen in the viral Facebook video are concerning at the very least.
What do you think? Should the trainer’s behavior in the video be considered animal abuse, or even cruelty? Or is it acceptable? What would you do to train an aggressive dog instead of relying on punishment like this? Let us know in the comments below!