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Claudia Kawczynska

Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.

Culture: DogPatch
The Talk of ’Toon Town
New Yorker cartoons reflect our changing society

If art is a mirror that reflects our world, then the art of the cartoon is a funhouse mirror—a distorted and comic image of ourselves, taking the smallest seed of truth and twisting it into a hilarious meditation. Cartoons speak simply and directly about the ironies and foolishness of the human dilemma. The comic arts are a kind of pop psychology—delving into a collective id, the cultural funny-bone of society. It is this meshing of comedy and psychology that inspired Anne Alden, a San Francisco cartoonist, dog aficionado and aspiring psychologist, to consider how these three passions might intertwine as she was casting about for a PhD dissertation topic.

This idea of tracing human-dog relationships through cartoons began one day while Alden was thumbing through back issues of The New Yorker. She noticed a trend—dog cartoons appeared regularly and seemed to take particular delight in satirizing popular social mores. Intrigued, she visited her local library and spent the day reviewing The New Yorker magazines from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, fascinated by the evolution of the genre. Fifties cartoons showed suburban hounds, those from the ’60s poked fun at counter-cultural canines, and upwardly mobile dogs appeared in the ’80s and ’90s. A light bulb went on in Alden’s head and she began her research project in earnest, parlaying it into a fascinating clinical-psychology thesis.

“I’ve had a ridiculous number of dissertation topics over the years, but this was the first one I really felt passionate about. It also happened to involve data that would be fun to collect and analyze,” Alden admits.

The combination of cartoons and The New Yorker has always been an interesting pairing—the most popular and democratic of art forms and one of America’s most culturally elite periodicals. “The New Yorker is ahead of the curve on social criticism and cultural trends,” says Alden. “And their cartoons and cover art have always been superb—more than a few have taken on a kind of cultural significance or iconic status. Just think of Steinberg’s infamous map of New York City from the ’70s to last year’s “New Yorkistan” map by Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz or the popular cartoon of a dog surfing the ’net ... at their best, these cartoons come to represent a generation, a certain collective consciousness of our times.”

Alden has taken her show on the road: speaking engagements at academic symposiums, drawing big laughs and curtain calls. “It’s lots of fun to be sure, but in the end, I’m mining a very serious idea here. Animals, and dogs in particular, are an integral part of our society-as our society changes, so does our relationship with the animal world, best expressed through the way we live with our pets and in the study of animal behavior,” Alden insists. Her conclusion—that there may be a very thin line between animal and human cognition and consciousness—won’t surprise Bark readers.

The ’20s and ’30s
From The New Yorker’s first publication in 1925, its cartoons have chronicled scenes of everyday life, focusing more on cultural and social issues than on political or world events. In these first two decades, Alden found, cartoons under Harold Ross’s tutelage barely acknowledged the impact of major events, such as the stock market crash and the hardships of the Depression. Instead, the cartoons of this era reflected wild party times, with many stylized portraits of flappers. Dogs were pictured as fashionable ornaments for the wealthy. People were typically shown fussing over dogs—predominantly diminutive breeds like Pekinese and toy Poodles. True to a cultural fascination popularized in the ‘20s, dog shows and dog grooming scenes proliferated. Dogs being pampered by glamorized women typified the sophisticated style of the era.

Alden found that cartoons of the ’30s continued to feature a society at leisure—regardless of the different reality being experienced by a Depression-era nation. People were also shown with many dogs—exuberant consumption perhaps exemplified by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, each of whom owned packs of dogs. (Coolidge’s wife reportedly dressed one of their dogs in an Easter bonnet for parties.) One cartoon showed a man with 10 dogs on leashes, with the caption: “Well, she has her books and I have my dogs.”

Competitive dog shows and an interest in “pure” breeding were also themes in the ’30s. James Thurber especially was the master at poking fun at this trend.

The ’40s and ’50s
Dogs go to war! Gone are the pampered hounds, enter the hero canines. Alden found that over a dozen cartoons—a third of all dog cartoons published in the ’40s—featured a hero St. Bernard rescuing people in the snow. Another cartoon showed a woman volunteering her Dachshund at a recruiting office, saying:”1 thought perhaps he’d be good for crawling under things.” But true to dogs’ more comedic nature, several cartoons pictured scenes of them chasing a military truck, or of MPs looking for a miscreant dog.

The ’50s found that a move to the suburbs and the post-war baby boom coincided with a dramatic increase in pet ownership. Animal rights groups began efforts to protect domestic animals, a concern that actually made its way into the magazine. Several cartoons showed the ASPCA rounding up stray dogs. Interestingly, Alden notes, many cartoons started to depict dogs exhibiting bad behavior: One pictured a dog charging at a postman. And jealousy brewed in Levittown: “Sure, why not, how about a third TV set for the damned dog!”

The ’60s and ’70s
While flower children and leashless dogs frolicked in the streets in the ’60s, the regulation of pets, especially dogs, became stricter. This was particularly true in cities that enacted “pooper scooper” and leash laws.

Alden found that many cartoons, perhaps reflecting society’s inability to rein in its freedom-loving youth, portrayed dogs fighting back: “So, you’ve finally bitten a lawyer.” And mirroring the nascent women’s movement, a theme deconstructing “master” also emerged. One cartoon showed a woman speaking to her dog: “Guess what, Mr. Corbett is going to be our lord and master.”

The ’70s found a resurgent interest in dog cartoons. This was partly influenced by the popularity of the work of George Booth. Beginning in 1969, he started to bring his ineffable stamp to the magazine and has since become one of its most recognizable cartoonists. Booth cartoons often captured the essential character of dogs just acting like dogs. In addition to being known for his psychotic-looking dogs, Booth is also renowned for his portraits of chaotic households with eccentric people with many dogs. “He records their adventures in a very touching way,” says Alden, who once met the cartoonist, “with affection, never ridicule, and always with exacting detail.”

In a humorous parallel to civil rights legislation of the ‘70s, Alden notes, the cartoons showed a similar assertion of rights by dogs—a major change from previous decades. Dogs were most often portrayed talking and behaving like humans. A disgruntled dog painted his own sign: “Beware of Me.” Cartoons also showed dogs having meetings in boardrooms, playing chess with cats and, in one strip, thrusting out a paw and saying to a human: “Shake hands.”

The ’80s and ’90s
Enter the era of upward mobility and intense self-actualization—cartoon dogs were depicted possessing the whole panoply of human emotions (and their foibles), not merely speaking but assuming very human-like roles and conversation. “I’m your pet, but you don’t own me,” reads one caption, while another cartoon shows a dog speaking to a man: “I just want you to know, Ted, that I think you’re a good boy, too.” Dogs wore suits and ties, hammered out business deals and palled around with attorneys—reflecting the era’s obsession with the material world. Cartoonists took particular delight in examining society’s conflicted values and ethics, placing them against traditional canine characteristics—loyalty, trust and faithfulness. “Bad” dog took on new meaning, as dogs practiced a host of human vices-smoking, drinking and corporate crime.

Alden notes that the concept of family changed significantly in the ’80s, a decade with high divorce rates and an increasing number of single-parent families. Pets began to be viewed as important members of the family, given equal or greater status than children. The indulgences of the time were also grist for the “new” family member-a dog nudges his water dish and asks: “This isn’t tap water, is it?” The lifestyle of dogs became a subject of satire itself: Dog walkers, dog runs and high-end dog products first began to appear—“Hey, I’ll let you know when I’m ready to switch to Cycle Four,” a dog holding a food bowl complains to his master.

Alden found that in the ’90s the number of dog cartoons increased significantly, as did many popular bestsellers about the intellectual and emotional lives of dogs. Cartoons showed dogs exhibiting subtleties of complex thinking—ever moving up on the evolutionary ladder. Dogs were frequently depicted having human-like angst. A two-panel cartoon pictured a drowning person yelling, “Lassie, get help!” with the second panel featuring Lassie on a psychiatrist’s couch. Another showed a dog walking alongside his owner, thinking: “It’s always good dog, never great dog.”

Four Legs and a Tail
Is it any wonder that dogs are the cartoonist’s best friend, offering up limitless comedic possibilities? Has there ever been a better straight man than a dog? From pampered pet to loyal companion, our cartoon canines have followed us through the Great Depression, world wars, suburbia and technology—and along the way, learned to walk upright and speed dial. Their evolution is our own. The cartoon archives of The New Yorker show us that social history is often best written simply, with pen and ink, in the form of four legs and a tail.
 

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Dr. Nicholas Dodman on Dog Behavior and New Training Techniques
What does it take to be the leader of the pack?

The rules of dog training and care are changing, which means your role is changing. Leading animal behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman discusses new training techniques and dog behavior with fellow veterinarian, Dr. Sophia Yin and Bark’s Claudia Kawczynska.

Bark: What is an animal behaviorist? What qualifies someone to be called a behaviorist?

Dodman: There are only two qualified types of behaviorists; one who is endorsed and certified by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), the so-called certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (AB). And the veterinary ones, who are the diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Behavior. For the ABS the minimum starting point is a master’s degree, but a lot of certified animal behaviorists have a PhD. That’s the non-veterinary variety. In order to become a veterinary behaviorist, you have to do a vet degree first, taking four years after college, then one year internship and then the residency program that is normally three years long. In other words, it’s another four years after the DVM that you become eligible to sit for the specialty examination in behavior. So after leaving high school, the ABS is a minimum of twelve years of study. And then you have to sit a pretty hard exam. These are the two types of people who are qualified animal behaviorists.

Having said that, the fact is, if you happen to have a dog that you trained yourself at home and you think you are pretty good at it, and you believe you have a gift, as some people do; there is nothing to stop you from proclaiming yourself to be a pet therapist, trainer or behaviorist. So the qualifications range from a non-professional-schooled person right the way up to a Ph.D. or DVM-board certified, so there is a tremendous range of people who call themselves behaviorists. I know some dog trainers who go out of their way to avoid being termed behaviorist, so if you ask, “Are you a behaviorist?” they say “no I am not a behaviorist, I am a trainer.”

Bark: What do you feel is the place for punishment or negative re-enforcement in treating behavioral problems?

Dodman: I think that the direct punishment-based techniques are outmoded, a thing of the past, and should be avoided. Nobel Prize winners Lorenz, Tinbergen and Von Frisch might have disagreed on some points, but the three of them were all in agreement that punishment teaches a dog nothing. All it does is to teach a dog how to avoid the punishment. Which is not the same as teaching the dog what to do. There is no learning, other than learning avoidance of certain actions. You don’t need punishment to teach either dogs or children. I don’t believe in the concept of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child,” or sparing the chain-jerking and spoiling the dog. All the techniques that we use in the clinic are 100 percent motivational—we do not use any coercive techniques. I work on the theory that if you can train a killer whale to launch itself out of a swimming pool, roll on its side and urinate into a small plastic cup, given only a whistle and a bucket of fish, without a choke chain, then you don’t need those confrontational techniques with dogs.

As for those prong collars … I sometimes say to clients what John Lennon rudely said about Paul McCarthy—the only thing he did was “Yesterday.” Prong collars are yesterday. There are some trainers, not all trainers, who just seem to know only one thing, and that is how to escalate punishment to reach the desired effect. So they start off with puppies the right way with food motivation. But as soon as the dog reaches a certain age, they go into a slip collar, then a metal choke collar, and if these aren’t having the desired aversive effects, they escalate up to a prong collar; some even graduate higher, to electricity. What you have is a gradation of pain. And the pain is designed with the theory “you teach them to do something, and if they don’t do it, you hurt them.” Konrad Lorenz said that science and know-how aren’t enough in dog training; patience is the vital stuff. I find that non-confrontational techniques are more appreciated by owners who often aren’t of the disposition to want to hurt their animals to make them do anything.

Bark: I know that one of the big problems in training comes up in animal shelters, where some training is given to the dogs to make them more adoptable. Patience and non-aversive training are wonderful, but what can shelters workers do to make the animals adoptable, quickly?

Dodman: You could train fairly fast with clickers. In my office I use a clicker and food treats. I can have a dog at the beginning of a one-hour session without the faintest idea of what a clicker is, but at the end of the hour I do a click and he’ll immediately come and sit for a food treat. They can learn what the clicker means fairly quickly. But in terms of rehabilitation of a dog in a shelter, I don’t think that taking a dog that has gone through the kinds of unfortunate experiences that cause it to arrive in a shelter and then putting a choke chain and popping it a couple of times is going to sort it out. With a lot of the dogs I have seen in the behavior clinic, the relationship with the owner has broken down. Many of these dogs have been to training. They are top of the class. They are very smart. But they are willful or dysfunctional. They have problems that way, and these are the kinds of things that bring animals to shelters. You have dogs that are either relatively normal but untrained, or they are fearful, needing more confidence building. If you put a choke chain on a dog like that, you are going to drive it back in the middle of last week.

It all has to do with communication, too, it’s not about having your dog respond like a little soldier to commands. It is just clear communication. I tell people to just imagine if they were in downtown Shanghai: everyone speaks Chinese and they don’t have the faintest idea of what is going on. That’s a pretty stressful situation to be in. But if someone comes up with just a few basic words—like restaurant, bathroom, transportation—just a few words sprinkled in, that could really mean something and could help with de-stressing the situation. I see communication as being one of the three Rs of rehabilitation for a dog that has gone off the rails. The other two Rs are exercise and appropriate diet. I call that the Reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic of dog rehabilitation. If you are dog, you pronounce that with a rrruhrrr.

Bark: What do you think is the single most important preventative measure people can take to help avoid behavior problems in their pets?

Dodman: That’s a difficult question, because there are several factors, such as exercise, diet, communication, suitable restraints and fenced-in yards and perhaps providing a crate, even if you don’t ever shut the door. Put as the one single thing? Probably it would be to provide leadership. The dog is a territorial animal and when he moves into your territory, he’ll try to take it over; if you feed him, he might keep you on because you are feeding him. So it is very important to provide clear leadership in a non-confrontational way.

I think that dogs and children are a very similar. For example, there was a study done by a master’s degree graduate student at Tufts. She took dogs on the basis of puppy temperament testing who were likely to become a bit extroverted, a little dominant. And she said three simple things to their owners—she had two groups so she did it all scientifically—one group of owners were told, “Have a nice day,” and the other group was told, “Number one, make your puppy sit in order to get fed; number two, make your little puppy sit to get food treats; and, number three, provide the puppy with a crate. (You don’t have to put the dog in there twenty-three hours a day, you can even leave the door open. Make it a safe place for the dog to go to.)” With these three measures none of the dogs in the second group became dominant or gave the owners any trouble. Nearly all the dogs in the first group turned out to be dominant and got into the territorial mode of guarding their property and possessions within their territory.

So I think that leadership is very important because of the pack mentality of dogs. If you are the leader, I don’t think that the dog is unhappy about having you as the leader. And when the owner takes clear control through a non-confrontational dominance program, you can almost hear the dog sigh with relief. It’s as if they are saying, “My god, for a minute I thought it was me who was in charge here.” It’s a relief. They don’t feel miserable. They are not like humans who have to be number one. They don’t care about being at the top of the hierarchy, they just need to know where they are in it. Clearly know .

Bark: In your books you talk about the importance of aerobic exercise for the health of a dog. How can dog owners provide that kind of exercise for their dogs at the end of leash?

Dodman: The vast majority of dogs do benefit greatly from having exercise periods. And walking dogs on a leash is not sufficient exercise. It’s not that they die if they walk on a leash, just as it’s not that a human being dies in solitary confinement either. It is just that it is not optimal for their physiological and psychological well-being. Exercise is good for us and it is good for a dog. People say to me, “I give my dog a lot of exercise, I take him for a walk around the block every day and it is about a mile or a mile and a half.” I say, “Well, I take my 84-year-old mother for a mile walk around the block, but that doesn’t constitute exercise.” We really need to get heart rate to a certain level, and this is done by running off-lead.

Then again, there is another side to the dogs-in-parks issue, and this is where you find people coming out stacked high on both sides. There’s responsible pet ownership. But it is the irresponsible behavior of the few that has made society make rules that are punitive for the many responsible owners. So it is not appropriate to walk along Fifth Avenue with your dog off leash—even if you happen to have a dog trained to heel, all it takes is a rollerblader coming down the street and the dog might run after him or the dog might decide to cross the road because there is a bitch in heat. On crowded streets you need to keep a dog on lead, and people need to be responsible for picking up their dog’s waste; and if you know that your dog has a weakness for, say, attacking small dogs, that is another thing that you should control. The only way you can control it is physically. But that doesn’t mean that you have to forego aerobic exercise. It is the owner’s duty to find a place where they can let their dog off leash to run, safely.

I know how difficult it is when you live inside a huge sprawling urban complex, such as a city like Boston. Tufts is north of Boston in Medford and they have the same issues. All the dog people from the north shore of Boston were using the university playing fields to exercise their dogs. They were all congregating on the only green area. The football players were running around and skidding in dog muck. So they put a little fence around a little area in the corner, so now all the dog people are condensed into that small area. This is a difficult situation—the dog owners have nowhere else to go, but the players shouldn’t have to roll around in the dog doo either. I think there should be certain areas where dogs are permitted to do whatever they want to do, to run. I sometimes tell people if they are in a really difficult situation, though this is somewhat illicit, if worse comes to worst, take their dogs to a tennis court—wing a ball to them and they’ll run backwards and forwards.

So whether it’s continued petitioning to provide parks for dog owners, these things are necessary, considering how many dogs there are in the country. There are something like half as many dogs as there are cars. If you told car owners they could not park on the streets, what would they do? So there is this massive problem. One in five people owns a dog, something like 40 percent of all American households have a pet. And to make a rule that people can’t exercise their dogs off leash might even be one of the reasons that we are seeing an increase in problems these days. The demographics of the human population is such that people are moving into the inner cities, we are becoming a nation of city dwellers, and in the city it is a concrete jungle, as Desmond Morris would say.

Life is very bizarre for dogs who live in Manhattan. It is not at all like the natural life. A dog needs to be provided with natural outlets—being able to run and exercise and chase things and do what dogs were bred to do. Say you have an apartment-dwelling dog who has little or no exercise and is fed one of these high-energy foods. Then add to that that there isn’t much communication because the owner took the dog to obedience training as a puppy and doesn’t do it anymore. So now you have a dog that neither is communicated with properly, nor has appropriate outlets or diet. This situation, which is all too common, is an accident looking for a place to happen.
 

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Dr. Nicholas Dodman on Dog Behavior and New Training Techniques
What does it take to be the leader of the pack?

The rules of dog training and care are changing, which means your role is changing. Leading animal behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman discusses new training techniques and dog behavior with fellow veterinarian, Dr. Sophia Yin and Bark’s Claudia Kawczynska.

Bark: What is an animal behaviorist? What qualifies someone to be called a behaviorist?

Dodman: There are only two qualified types of behaviorists; one who is endorsed and certified by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), the so-called certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (AB). And the veterinary ones, who are the diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Behavior. For the ABS the minimum starting point is a master’s degree, but a lot of certified animal behaviorists have a PhD. That’s the non-veterinary variety. In order to become a veterinary behaviorist, you have to do a vet degree first, taking four years after college, then one year internship and then the residency program that is normally three years long. In other words, it’s another four years after the DVM that you become eligible to sit for the specialty examination in behavior. So after leaving high school, the ABS is a minimum of twelve years of study. And then you have to sit a pretty hard exam. These are the two types of people who are qualified animal behaviorists.

Having said that, the fact is, if you happen to have a dog that you trained yourself at home and you think you are pretty good at it, and you believe you have a gift, as some people do; there is nothing to stop you from proclaiming yourself to be a pet therapist, trainer or behaviorist. So the qualifications range from a non-professional-schooled person right the way up to a Ph.D. or DVM-board certified, so there is a tremendous range of people who call themselves behaviorists. I know some dog trainers who go out of their way to avoid being termed behaviorist, so if you ask, “Are you a behaviorist?” they say “no I am not a behaviorist, I am a trainer.”

Bark: What do you feel is the place for punishment or negative re-enforcement in treating behavioral problems?

Dodman: I think that the direct punishment-based techniques are outmoded, a thing of the past, and should be avoided. Nobel Prize winners Lorenz, Tinbergen and Von Frisch might have disagreed on some points, but the three of them were all in agreement that punishment teaches a dog nothing. All it does is to teach a dog how to avoid the punishment. Which is not the same as teaching the dog what to do. There is no learning, other than learning avoidance of certain actions. You don’t need punishment to teach either dogs or children. I don’t believe in the concept of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child,” or sparing the chain-jerking and spoiling the dog. All the techniques that we use in the clinic are 100 percent motivational—we do not use any coercive techniques. I work on the theory that if you can train a killer whale to launch itself out of a swimming pool, roll on its side and urinate into a small plastic cup, given only a whistle and a bucket of fish, without a choke chain, then you don’t need those confrontational techniques with dogs.

As for those prong collars … I sometimes say to clients what John Lennon rudely said about Paul McCarthy—the only thing he did was “Yesterday.” Prong collars are yesterday. There are some trainers, not all trainers, who just seem to know only one thing, and that is how to escalate punishment to reach the desired effect. So they start off with puppies the right way with food motivation. But as soon as the dog reaches a certain age, they go into a slip collar, then a metal choke collar, and if these aren’t having the desired aversive effects, they escalate up to a prong collar; some even graduate higher, to electricity. What you have is a gradation of pain. And the pain is designed with the theory “you teach them to do something, and if they don’t do it, you hurt them.” Konrad Lorenz said that science and know-how aren’t enough in dog training; patience is the vital stuff. I find that non-confrontational techniques are more appreciated by owners who often aren’t of the disposition to want to hurt their animals to make them do anything.

Bark: I know that one of the big problems in training comes up in animal shelters, where some training is given to the dogs to make them more adoptable. Patience and non-aversive training are wonderful, but what can shelters workers do to make the animals adoptable, quickly?

Dodman: You could train fairly fast with clickers. In my office I use a clicker and food treats. I can have a dog at the beginning of a one-hour session without the faintest idea of what a clicker is, but at the end of the hour I do a click and he’ll immediately come and sit for a food treat. They can learn what the clicker means fairly quickly. But in terms of rehabilitation of a dog in a shelter, I don’t think that taking a dog that has gone through the kinds of unfortunate experiences that cause it to arrive in a shelter and then putting a choke chain and popping it a couple of times is going to sort it out. With a lot of the dogs I have seen in the behavior clinic, the relationship with the owner has broken down. Many of these dogs have been to training. They are top of the class. They are very smart. But they are willful or dysfunctional. They have problems that way, and these are the kinds of things that bring animals to shelters. You have dogs that are either relatively normal but untrained, or they are fearful, needing more confidence building. If you put a choke chain on a dog like that, you are going to drive it back in the middle of last week.

It all has to do with communication, too, it’s not about having your dog respond like a little soldier to commands. It is just clear communication. I tell people to just imagine if they were in downtown Shanghai: everyone speaks Chinese and they don’t have the faintest idea of what is going on. That’s a pretty stressful situation to be in. But if someone comes up with just a few basic words—like restaurant, bathroom, transportation—just a few words sprinkled in, that could really mean something and could help with de-stressing the situation. I see communication as being one of the three Rs of rehabilitation for a dog that has gone off the rails. The other two Rs are exercise and appropriate diet. I call that the Reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic of dog rehabilitation. If you are dog, you pronounce that with a rrruhrrr.

Bark: What do you think is the single most important preventative measure people can take to help avoid behavior problems in their pets?

Dodman: That’s a difficult question, because there are several factors, such as exercise, diet, communication, suitable restraints and fenced-in yards and perhaps providing a crate, even if you don’t ever shut the door. Put as the one single thing? Probably it would be to provide leadership. The dog is a territorial animal and when he moves into your territory, he’ll try to take it over; if you feed him, he might keep you on because you are feeding him. So it is very important to provide clear leadership in a non-confrontational way.

I think that dogs and children are a very similar. For example, there was a study done by a master’s degree graduate student at Tufts. She took dogs on the basis of puppy temperament testing who were likely to become a bit extroverted, a little dominant. And she said three simple things to their owners—she had two groups so she did it all scientifically—one group of owners were told, “Have a nice day,” and the other group was told, “Number one, make your puppy sit in order to get fed; number two, make your little puppy sit to get food treats; and, number three, provide the puppy with a crate. (You don’t have to put the dog in there twenty-three hours a day, you can even leave the door open. Make it a safe place for the dog to go to.)” With these three measures none of the dogs in the second group became dominant or gave the owners any trouble. Nearly all the dogs in the first group turned out to be dominant and got into the territorial mode of guarding their property and possessions within their territory.

So I think that leadership is very important because of the pack mentality of dogs. If you are the leader, I don’t think that the dog is unhappy about having you as the leader. And when the owner takes clear control through a non-confrontational dominance program, you can almost hear the dog sigh with relief. It’s as if they are saying, “My god, for a minute I thought it was me who was in charge here.” It’s a relief. They don’t feel miserable. They are not like humans who have to be number one. They don’t care about being at the top of the hierarchy, they just need to know where they are in it. Clearly know .

Bark: In your books you talk about the importance of aerobic exercise for the health of a dog. How can dog owners provide that kind of exercise for their dogs at the end of leash?

Dodman: The vast majority of dogs do benefit greatly from having exercise periods. And walking dogs on a leash is not sufficient exercise. It’s not that they die if they walk on a leash, just as it’s not that a human being dies in solitary confinement either. It is just that it is not optimal for their physiological and psychological well-being. Exercise is good for us and it is good for a dog. People say to me, “I give my dog a lot of exercise, I take him for a walk around the block every day and it is about a mile or a mile and a half.” I say, “Well, I take my 84-year-old mother for a mile walk around the block, but that doesn’t constitute exercise.” We really need to get heart rate to a certain level, and this is done by running off-lead.

Then again, there is another side to the dogs-in-parks issue, and this is where you find people coming out stacked high on both sides. There’s responsible pet ownership. But it is the irresponsible behavior of the few that has made society make rules that are punitive for the many responsible owners. So it is not appropriate to walk along Fifth Avenue with your dog off leash—even if you happen to have a dog trained to heel, all it takes is a rollerblader coming down the street and the dog might run after him or the dog might decide to cross the road because there is a bitch in heat. On crowded streets you need to keep a dog on lead, and people need to be responsible for picking up their dog’s waste; and if you know that your dog has a weakness for, say, attacking small dogs, that is another thing that you should control. The only way you can control it is physically. But that doesn’t mean that you have to forego aerobic exercise. It is the owner’s duty to find a place where they can let their dog off leash to run, safely.

I know how difficult it is when you live inside a huge sprawling urban complex, such as a city like Boston. Tufts is north of Boston in Medford and they have the same issues. All the dog people from the north shore of Boston were using the university playing fields to exercise their dogs. They were all congregating on the only green area. The football players were running around and skidding in dog muck. So they put a little fence around a little area in the corner, so now all the dog people are condensed into that small area. This is a difficult situation—the dog owners have nowhere else to go, but the players shouldn’t have to roll around in the dog doo either. I think there should be certain areas where dogs are permitted to do whatever they want to do, to run. I sometimes tell people if they are in a really difficult situation, though this is somewhat illicit, if worse comes to worst, take their dogs to a tennis court—wing a ball to them and they’ll run backwards and forwards.

So whether it’s continued petitioning to provide parks for dog owners, these things are necessary, considering how many dogs there are in the country. There are something like half as many dogs as there are cars. If you told car owners they could not park on the streets, what would they do? So there is this massive problem. One in five people owns a dog, something like 40 percent of all American households have a pet. And to make a rule that people can’t exercise their dogs off leash might even be one of the reasons that we are seeing an increase in problems these days. The demographics of the human population is such that people are moving into the inner cities, we are becoming a nation of city dwellers, and in the city it is a concrete jungle, as Desmond Morris would say.

Life is very bizarre for dogs who live in Manhattan. It is not at all like the natural life. A dog needs to be provided with natural outlets—being able to run and exercise and chase things and do what dogs were bred to do. Say you have an apartment-dwelling dog who has little or no exercise and is fed one of these high-energy foods. Then add to that that there isn’t much communication because the owner took the dog to obedience training as a puppy and doesn’t do it anymore. So now you have a dog that neither is communicated with properly, nor has appropriate outlets or diet. This situation, which is all too common, is an accident looking for a place to happen.
 

Culture: DogPatch
10 Years of Modern Dog Culture
The evolution of an era

Ten years ago, The Bark set out to chronicle a growing societal movement, one we came to call the modern dog culture. Though we started the magazine as part of our advocacy for off-leash dog parks, we didn’t limit ourselves to that topic. And, as we tackled other dog-related subjects we noticed the emergence of a new way of living with dogs that enthralled and fascinated us. Taking “Dog Is My Co-Pilot” as our motto because it said so perfectly what we felt to be true, we began our exploration of this phenomenon.

From the start, we filled the pages of The Bark with smart writing, insightful commentary, great fiction and personal essays, expert advice, humor, poetry, art, and much more. In short, we created a magazine that had everything we wanted to read, and its canine-centricity inspired the best from our contributors, and attracted thousands of like-minded readers. We have long taken pride in creating a publication that not only reflects the voice of its time but that also showcases the esteem we feel for dogs—its a payment of sorts on the debt we feel is owed them.

Dogs have been our best friends for millennia, but this relationship has undergone a remarkable transformation during the past few years as their role in our lives is redefined and expanded. Long our helpmates and trusted companions—valued for their “worthiness” by hunters, shepherds and herdsmen as well as by the aristocracy with its pampered pups—dogs nonetheless occupied a place that was distinct and separate from that claimed by humans. The relationship was primarily viewed in terms of the degree of utility and value that dogs had to us.

Today, dogs are more fully integrated into the fabric of our daily lives. Though their capacity to help us is perhaps even more relevant now as we discover the full range of their abilities, there is something else in play, a different kind of co-species togetherness that goes beyond the functional. It is almost a re-enactment of the dawn of our two species, when proto-human and proto-dog helped one other along their evolutionary pathways.

Dog lovers are tending to the emotional needs of their dogs, enriching their minds, exercising their bodies, providing them with social stimulation, feeding them nutritious foods—in short, they are nurturing and caring for their dogs as true and equal family members. Even though we recognize and celebrate the “otherness” of dogs, we are also gratified to see that the distance between our two species is being reduced. This, in turn, makes us better able to treat dogs (and all animals) with compassion and respect.

So, we thought, what better way to showcase what we mean by dog culture—and to celebrate our 10th anniversary—than by presenting an array of our “Editors’ Picks,” articles and stories that reflect the best examples from our vast collection. Check here for weekly updates, and stay tuned—we’ll be telling you the stories behind the stories and providing other flavorful and tantalizing insights.

Good Dog: Activities & Sports
Walk Your Dog in Washington, DC's Congressional Cemetary
Good works, good walks

For 200 years, Washington, DC’s, 32-acre Congressional Cemetery—privately owned by the Episcopal church—has provided a resting place for many Americans, from notables such as Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, John Philip Sousa and J. Edgar Hoover to the laborers who helped construct the nearby Capitol, as well as lawmakers who served there.

By the early 20th century, Congressional’s popularity was eclipsed by that of the national cemetery at Arlington (built on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s estate in 1883). Sadly, “Congressional was forgotten,” according to John Philip Sousa Pugh, great-grandnephew of the composer, and it suffered from neglect and vandalism. Then, about 20 years ago, dogs (and their people) “rescued” it. What makes this cemetery and its arrangement with an OLA group so unique and worthy of our highest praise is how well this partnership works. A third of the cemetery’s annual operating income is generated by the fees that the off-leash recreationists pay for access privileges: $125 a year, plus $40 per dog.

Appropriately, this covers the costs for all the lawn maintenance! Besides the annual dues, members of this K-9 Corps must agree to follow simple rules, which include use restrictions during burials and funerals. The dog people also help with conservation and preservation efforts, and have proven to be not only great fundraisers, but effective vandalism deterrents too. Recently, 100 dogs dressed as historic characters helped celebrate the cemetery’s bicentennial, and their people carried signs with slogans such as “Abraham Lincoln Liked Mutts.” We salute them!
CemeteryDogs.org 

 

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