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“We have far more to learn about how mutually beneficial our relationship with dogs is.”
“We have far more to learn about how mutually beneficial our relationship with dogs is.” / LaCoppola-Meier/Getty Images

Accentuate the positive

“We must stop dominance-based and punitive training methods. There’s no science there, and dogs don’t learn anything except to fear us. Positive training techniques work; not to mention they are more humane, enhancing the relationship with your dog instead of destroying it. If dogs are our best friends, they deserve our kindness and respect. I won’t rest until science-based positive training is the norm.”

Victoria Stilwell, trainer, host of It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet

Let dogs help your doctor

“Dogs have the extraordinary capacity to make our lives better in ways we couldn’t have imagined only a few decades ago, from detecting cancers to telling us when there’s a diabetic high or low.” [At Canine Assistants, dogs are trained to help people when an epileptic seizure occurs; about 90% of them learn on their own to predict seizures.] “Learning how dogs are able do these things can be lifesaving. What’s most extraordinary, dogs do seem to want to help us.”

Jennifer Arnold, author of In a Dog’s Heart, founder/CEO of Canine Assistants

Stop that hurtful training

“There’s never an excuse to hurt a dog when you train a dog — that is my No. 1 message. No. 2: Force isn’t necessary to train; motivate dogs using treats or toys, or use clicker training. Message No. 3: In my lifetime we’ve learned much about the benefits of the human/animal bond—an area which we have far more to learn how mutually beneficial our relationship with dogs is.”

R.K. Anderson, 89, legendary veterinary behaviorist, founder of first center for the human/animal bond at the University of Minnesota

Love all dogs, not just yours

“It drives me crazy: People say they love dogs — and they do love their dog — but what are they thinking? When people purchase from a pet store, don’t they realize they’re perpetuating puppy mills? Look at the bigger picture! Or in New York City, blue French Bulldogs are now a trend, selling for $8,000. OK, really? Do you know how many shelter dogs can be saved with that kind of money?”

Andrea Arden, regular guest on the Today show, trainer, author of Barron’s Dog Training Bible

Don't buy a dog online

“Part of the problem today is all the online buying — there isn’t a reputable breeder who makes a sale online. Sure, great breeders may have wonderful websites to promote their dogs — but they don’t sell them just like that online. Do homework. A lot more research goes into purchasing a new car, compared to buying a dog.”

Kelly Gorman Dunbar, trainer, founder of dogstardaily.com

Give puppies lots of company

“Eight-week-old puppies go into homes unsocialized, leaving it all up to the new owners, who don’t have a chance. Without any socialization, dogs are permanently damaged, never able to reach their potential. All puppies should meet 100 people before they are 8 weeks and 100 more people between 8 and 12 weeks.”

Ian Dunbar, pioneer trainer, author, founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

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Contributing editor Steve Dale is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant. He writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column and is the host of two syndicated radio shows. Most recently he is the author of two e-books that answer common (and some not-so-common) pet-behavior problems, Good Dog! and Good Cat! (available wherever e-books are sold).