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Facebook Sucks for Dogs: Viral videos have people cheering for canine bad behavior 

· Training,Podcast,Behavior

Most of us are guilty. We’ve stifled squeals as a dachshund rides a mini pony, roflmao when that border collie watched herself compete on TV, and cried at plenty of rescue stories where canines make Rocky-esque comebacks. However, be careful before you click all the heart eyes, because some [most] of these videos highlight what’s wrong with idiot dog owners today: the humanization of dog.

Below is an excerpt from Heroly’s Canine Club podcast with our professional behaviorist Jonas Black. Listen to the full gem here.

People. I'm a party pooper this week. I literally want to start popping Xanax like they're M&M Minis, because my Facebook feed is filled with viral videos of well-intended people wanting to show how great dogs are (which they in fact, are). However, under all the cuteness, owners are cultivating the humanization of dogs by glorifying extremely undesirable behaviors. Let’s dive on in to some videos that are this type of shit show: 


1. Husky won't let owner get out of bed 

This first video absolutely kills me, but in the worst way. The husky's in the bed with a child, and the parents are trying to get the child up in the morning. Every time they go to move the blanket, the dog attacks their hands, and they laugh. This type of resource guarding behavior is only going to transcend further into the environment.

This behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, period. And while this topic may come off as a party pooper topic, it's actually an observation of how much we've humanized dogs.

We're actually forgetting that dogs can have undesirable behaviors, and we are at a point where we're ignoring a husky towering over a child in a bed trying to bite the owners when they attempt to remove a blanket.

They laugh, eventually leave, and what ends up happening there is that we have positively reinforced that behavior. We have given the dog what the dog wants, which is in this case is to not get out of bed. 

Yes, the premise is funny. The dogs is so anti-getting-out-of-bed that the dog is biting.

The problem is that the biting behavior will transcend into the rest of the environment that the dog is operating and living in eventually. The undesirable behavior that we're seeing will be translated into another situation.

So in case your dog is resource guarding by refusing to get out of bed, simply get the dog out of bed. It is unacceptable behavior. It's only going to lead to further complications. 

2. Big fluffy German Shepherd scared of Escalators

Smdh. Now there are multiple things wrong there.

So what we have here is we have a guy walking towards an escalator with a German Shepherd and the dog becomes scared of the moving stairs.

Instead of working the GSD through the real-world scenario and being a proper advocate/leader for him, the man decides to pick up the dog, laugh, and look at the camera. 

Along the way, he pets the German Shepherd as he's holding him, and they happily go up. It's ‘cute as hell’, because the ‘big doggo’ wants to be carried up the escalator.

No, that's not what this is.

The German Shepherd does not want to be carried up the escalator. He is scared shitless, and the owner’s now positively reinforced fear around the situation and inside his dog.

People in general are doing more damage with this type of ‘affection’.

Furthermore, they clearly anticipated the dog’s behavior, because the owner was prepping and priming for the exact reaction to happen on camera. Otherwise, why the hell would there be a camera setup? So this is a common occurrence across these viral vids as owners actively cultivate fear in their dog’s psyche.

NEWSFLASH: This will eventually translate into their various environments, and the dog will become reactive or fearful and start to not work through these emotions. At the very least, the canine will become insecure, because we have rewarded that emotion.

Dogs look at topics like reactivity and insecurity as general variables inside of their environments. That's why if you positively reinforce fear in one scenario, you are most likely positively reinforcing fear in another scenario.

What you should do in this situation is get the dog on the escalator… if it’s that important... 

So get the dog on the escalator and choose to walk up or just ride while positively reinforcing the dog’s effort. This should be a slow approach. The last thing you should do is pick up the dog and allow him to be locked in a fearful state while you're positively reinforcing that fearful state. 


3. Kirk the border collie watching herself on TV

Most recently to hit the scene is the dog Kirk that watched herself compete in the agility competition. 


Sorry if you're shook, but that dog has no self realization that she is the collie on the TV is. However! I can tell if my dog's watching television. I'm sure you have a lot of dogs that watch television.


It's hilarious. It's awesome. I love when my dogs watch TV. Is it cute that the dog happens to be watching TV while his competition video rolls? Yes, that’s hilarious.

But to make the bombastic claim that the dog is consciously self aware is just not true. Studies amongst many animals -not just regarding canines- show that humans are not born with the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror.

Dun dun dun. Party pooper time. Chimpanzees weren’t not born with the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror.  Dogs aren’t born with the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror.

You know what that means? I’m sure as hell that the dog does not have the ability to recognize itself inside or on the television screen competing.

Not factual. Is it cute? Totally. But don't think that the dog has that ability. That's an advanced psychological concept, and do not project human observations onto the canines. That's how we're ruining dogs. I see it every day with rescues in shelters.

Oh, well the dog just wants this [some lovin’, treats, hugs],” says the well-intentioned rescue worker.

Are you sure you’re not projecting what you want? We tend to look for ourselves within the relationships that we cultivate, including those with our dogs. There's a healthy balance, and I'm not saying don't adore your dog. My dog’s are number one, but I still treat them like canines.

Bruh, can you just laugh?

The answer is yes. Are you ready for this? I'm going to talk about my favorite dog video. That's right. There's a video that's gone viral that I absolutely adore, and I've loved it for a very long time: the Bulldog on the skateboard.

I watched that video and I about piss myself laughing, because you can really tell that the dog is enjoying it. You can really tell that the dog loves to do it, and those are the types of things that give me a trainer boner (urban mushing, skateboarding, and treadmill walking are all sources of genuine enjoyment). It  may be a human activity, but the dog is clearly doing it on its own and having the time of his life.

I just think it's so neat when we train dogs to be a part of human activities without actually humanizing them. It's super awesome and you can 100% tell that the dogs are having a great time.

Jonas, how do I stop making dogs look stupid on social and irl?

Stop doing dumb shit. Stop positively reinforcing where you shouldn't. If you really want to know the golden ticket to raising a mentally healthy dog, I’m going to share the golden-ticket secret right here to their behavior:

What you pet is what you get.

Think about the state of mind that your dog is in. If you like that state of mind, go ahead and reward with affection or pet your dog. If you like the state of mind your dog is in acknowledge him/her.

If you don't like the state of mind that the dog is in the best thing you can do is normally ignore, or just keep going about your way. On the flip side, if you watch the handler in the escalator video, his body language signals the dog’s fear response. The owner stopping acted as a cue.

Dogs are...dogs

Social channels are teeming with viral dog videos where humans are reinforcing negative behaviors in their canines in the name of 'omfg' reactions that can ultimately translate negatively into their other environments. This impacts not only the dog's, but the owners' day-to-day living as well. It'd be swell if we could all collectively let dogs be dogs.  

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