Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Attack of the Water Bottle

A couple of weeks ago I went to Petsmart to pick Bella up from Doggie Day Care (DDC). While I was waiting for the person in front of me to pick up their dog, I watched Bella play through the glass walls. Bella was standing in front of the DDC employee and he sprayed her in the face with a water bottle.
Now, before I go on. Petsmart uses water spray bottles as a negative punishment for unwanted behavior.  Every dog must pass a behavior evaluation before they can be accepted into DDC, so most of the dogs are well behaved.
You might ask why the employees would need to use spray bottles. I would assume the spray bottles assist them in managing the collective dog behavior. I use the word assist because they should all know how to interact with a group of dogs and how to redirect unwanted behavior.
Back to the story at hand…
I cannot be totally sure, but from my perspective, the DDC employee sprayed Bella because she was too close to him and was crowding the doorway. When I saw him spray her the first time I was a little shocked but willing to reserve judgment. But when he sprayed her again almost right afterward and then raised his arm over the half glass wall, that separates the room into two small play areas, to spray another dog who was barking I was upset.
When it was my turn in line I filed a complaint with the manager. I told her Bella is a well trained dog. She is CGC certified and knows commands like “no” and “back up”. So when the DDC employee didn’t tell her any command and just sprayed her in the face twice, he will not accomplish anything. The only thing that he would accomplish with Bella would be to teach her to not like water. Dave and I do not use negative punishment. We both believe positive reinforcement is the only way we want to train Bella (and Draco). I mentioned how he sprayed another dog in a different section of the room. And that I think he needs to be instructed on how and when to use the spray bottle. I also requested water spray bottles not be used on Bella. Ever.
The manager was completely understanding and told me the DDC employee would have a verbal warning about the over usage of the spray bottle.
Afterward, when Bella and I were at home cuddling on the couch with Draco, I wondered if I over reacted. I looked down at Bella sleeping happily at home without a care in the world. I reached my hand down to pet her on the head and my hand brushed across two wet spots on her fur. Wet spots created by that spray bottle. Wet spots that shouldn’t have been there.

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