Training distrust


training distrustAs I’ve increased the lengths of my walks, I’ve had to shift to earlier start times (now 6 am).  The shift has brought me once again into contact with the man with the two German Shepherds.

This man walks his dogs without leashes and they appear to be quite content to stay within a reasonable range of him.  Despite that, however, the first time our paths crossed (in opposite directions), one of his Shepherds trailed him and took a leap at my hand.  The dog did not appear to be asking to be petted.

The last two times we’ve been on the path, he pulled his dogs off into the grass when we were heading for a cross and the other I was closing on him from behind, with one Shepherd occasionally slowing and glancing at me as I gained (probably my pal, remembering me).

I pass many dogs on my walks.  I say hi to their humans and then say hi to them.  Occasionally, they’ll bark or hop.  Most times, they just sniff.  No others snap.

So, it made me wonder a number of things.  First, if you train your dogs to be aggressive, why walk them without a leash?  More importantly, why do people train animals to distrust others?

Humans are complex and (often) confused animals, easily fooled by their own emotions and their poor judgments or those of others.  Most non-human animals are better at figuring out the truth of a situation.  Until humans get in the way.

Generally, you don’t get a lot of wrathful or spiteful attacks out of nature.  It may be wild, but it’s not inherently angry.  People, sadly, have a lot of anger.

I think it’s unfair and unhealthy to transfer that anger into their four-legged or winged friends.  To train an otherwise well-balanced animal into something that mirrors a human is a disservice and just plain sad.  “Beware of Dog”?  Who the heck thinks dogs should stand for fear?

I’ve never watched the “brainwashing” that takes place on guard dogs and other attack creatures, but it seems an awful thing to conceive.  In my experience, I’ve had nothing but great friendliness from dogs (and, unfortunately, cats), so it pains me to think of what must have been done to change that innate niceness into something so belligerent.

Most pets will become naturally protective of their human friends.  They’ll bark (or whatever appropriate sound) at strangers and be cautious at new arrivals.  Given the chance to use their own intuition, without interference from “smarter” humans, and those pets will make the right choice identifying friend from foe.

They don’t need to be trained in our distrust.

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