In many of the “ pet shaming” online photos or videos that many people find humorous what you are observing is actually FEAR and not guilt.
Here’s Some Examples
Our onsite Animal Behaviourist Nicole Nel says “Dogs are incredibly adept at responding to visual signals and our body language and tone of voice. They react to these visual and auditory signals in an attempt to reduce conflict and calm us down. Dogs do not feel guilty, they are fearful.
Dogs communicate through body language so if they have been previously “chastised” or scolded for chewing something, soiling the house etc., the feelings they associate with an incident, or your presence are negative emotions of fear or feelings of anxiousness.
Don’t get caught up in social media trends that encourage laughing at or teasing animals. It may seem harmless, but It’s important to foster empathy and respect for animals, and to promote their wellbeing instead of finding amusement at their expense. It is not funny to tease or chastise or frighten an animal ever. It is cruel and inhumane.
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Engaging with videos or images that portray animals in distress can contribute to animal cruelty. These trends perpetuate a harmful cycle by normalising and encouraging the mistreatment of animals for entertainment purposes.
Dogs learn by association whether it be to avoid a threat or to gain access to rewards. They do not learn effectively through the use of punishment or aversive methods and behavioural fallout from punitive methods is extensive and can lead to shut down behaviours like depression, fear, anxiety, learnt helplessness and agression.
So What Should You Do?
Behaviourist Nicole Nel says “rather manage the situation so that yout dog cannot rehearse the unwanted behaviours, redirect your dog on to an alternative activity and reward desirable behaviour. Remember, positive reinforcement training is humane, effective and helps dogs learn faster and feel happier!