Shaming owners to change behavior doesn’t work

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Shaming owners to change behavior doesn’t work

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

I cannot believe your answer to John who “inherited” his daughter’s 115-pound Great Dane. Substitute “dumped” for inherited and “cruel” for metal cage daily. Oh yeah, that would require critical thinking on your part – instead of “pat” answers.  Why not educate these people? Don’t buy a dog you plan on leaving in a cage all the time. My heart goes out to the Great Dane living a horrible life in a cage. Probably went from a “puppy mill” breeder straight to a clueless owner and onto her clueless dad. Instead you should have asked these two morons how they would like to be left in a cage unable to do much else other than lay down or stand for most of their lives. I find both the question and your answer despicable. With contempt for your “expertise,” – Susan, via email 

Dear Susan,
I am sorry to disappoint you. We clearly have different approaches to education. It doesn’t matter whether the dog was “dumped” or “inherited;” the man was seeking advice on how to care for his new dog.

While I didn’t chastise the man (or call him names) for keeping the dog in a kennel most of the day, I did recommend he not keep his dog in a kennel anymore. I admit I could have added that kennels should be used for training and short-term management and not all day use. When it comes to educating people about animals, I have learned that if you chastise people, they tend to not listen to your advice, and the animal continues to suffer.

It’s important to educate people in a way that motivates them to do the right thing, rather than shame them for doing the wrong thing. Shaming people almost always backfires.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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