Poor wee Cara; not only is her latest flick, Suicide Squad, being panned by critics worldwide, the supermodel turned actor is now being slated by animal rights groups for putting an anti-bark collar on her husky crossbreed, Leo. (Not to mention her atrocious Irish accent.)
Animal rights groups slammed the Londoner for the "cruelty" of fitting her doggy with a citronella-infused anti-bark collar, which sprays the citrus scent upwards, towards the dog's nose, in response to a loud noise.
So we got to thinking: what's so wrong about an anti-bark collar? And what other mistakes are we making with our doggies?
Never leave your dog in a hot car
Well, duh, right? But we mean: never. Not even for 10 minutes. According to Skoda Ireland and Dogs Trust, who teamed up to make an awareness-raising video to warn about leaving your mutt in your motor, in just 10 minutes on a 26-degree day, a car can reach 37 degrees Celcius. Worth considering before you run into the shops...
Never tap your dog on the nose
No matter what the offence. According to Donna Lennox, Assistant Training Behavioural Advisor at Dogs Trust Ireland, "The problem with punishing a behaviour is, we're not giving the dog an alternative behaviour." And the end result? "You get other behaviours you don't want." It's a vicious cycle.
A rule of thumb is: ignore your dog's bad behaviour, and reward the good. Simple.
Don't rub his nose in it
We get it; it's tempting, and sure, didn't it work for your parents? But showing your doggy all the wrong he did by rubbing his nose in his wet patch, well, is counterintuitive – all you're showing him, says Donna, is that you're a scary person, and that he probably shouldn't do his business in front of you.
Next thing you know, she says, "he'll start to go behind the couch, or in the garden when you're not looking, but then you won't know when he's gone."
Stay away from anti-bark collars
I know, I know; someone should've warned Cara, but anti-bark collars aren't cool. You can get them in various iterations: some spray citronella, while others give the dog a "mild" electric shock. Either way, they're designed to punish your dog for a totally natural behaviour – barking.
"It aims to stop the barking, through making it uncomfortable or frightening for the dog," says Donna. But the problem is, "that doesn't address the issues of why the dog is barking."
The moral of the story? A dog's behaviour can't necessarily be controlled, but it can be understood – it's about figuring out what's motivating their behaviour, and providing the right circumstances for them not to exhibit it any more.
So, for example, your dog might be barking because it's lonely, or scared... So you need to alleviate that loneliness and make sure it knows it's safe; suffice it to say, tapping it on the nose, leaving it in the car or whacking a shock collar on to it? Not good options.
If you adopt your dog from Dogs Trust, they offer a lifetime support system. "If somebody is struggling with their dog's behaviour, they can contact us and we'll give them advice over the phone or, where required, we'll go out and do a consultation with them in the home," says Donna.