Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
Horse Keeps Losing, People Still Love Her.

Lori Lancaster | March 24, 2004
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Scott Hardie | March 24, 2004
It seems to me that this phenomenon probably only happened because she was a horse and people projected their feelings onto her, perhaps thinking she really wants to win and she has this great spirit of devotion to the race. In reality, she's a frickin' horse. A human would have quit, unnoticed, in frustration a long time ago.

Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
I'm not sure - I don't know much about horse racing, but I know that even in the wild, horses race, and act as if they want to win. I'm sure that horses know they are trying to get to the front of the pack. Some horses probably get discouraged. But some probably keep running flat out every time, chomping at the bit, so to speak.

But this is all speculation on my part.

Scott Hardie | March 24, 2004
That could well be. But I find the projection of feelings onto animals to be silly. One of the dumbest arguments I've heard against the declawing of cats is that, "Losing their claws causes them so much pain and shame and inadequacy!" Uh, what? It's a fucking cat. It's in some physical pain for a week or two; we know that much. We cannot ask the cat how it feels and we cannot empirically evaluate its emotional state, so anything else is in the owner's imagination.

Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
I'm sure that some cats don't notice their claws being gone. But I KNOW others (especially full grown cats) become frustrated sometimes when they try to use their claws, or frightened when they have to defend themselves and can't - I could see the difference in behavior when I volunteered at the cat shelter. That said, no, you're right, Scott, that cats don't sit around feeling ASHAMED because they're not all the cat they can be. People have to keep in mind that animals can have emotions, but that doesn't mean they intellecutalize the reasons for those emotions like we do.

Melissa Erin | March 24, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
That's exactly why my parents decided NOT to get another dog - because they didn't want to spend their lives rushing home from social events to let the dog out.

I wish I could clip my cat's claws - we tried once and didn't even get one done before she managed to squirm away. Hopefully someday we will have space for a big scratching post for her. I am kind of proud that my cat has all her equipment (except for the baby making parts, of course).

Melissa Erin | March 24, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
We DID roll her up into a blanket. Still managed to escape.

Scott Hardie | March 24, 2004
My mother's cat fights her over every pill, so my mother lays the cat down on its back on the carpet and then pins her by kneeling on both sides of her. The cat isn't strong enough nor coordinated enough to fight back in that position. It should help you enough to trim the cat's front claws, but the rear could still be tricky.

Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
I doubt that could work either. I've had to hold her down for other reasons, and it's no picnic. She's a pretty docile cat, but she proves her beastliness at these times.

John E Gunter | March 24, 2004
We cannot ask the cat how it feels and we cannot empirically evaluate its emotional state, so anything else is in the owner's imagination.

My cat told me he hates having his claws gone, honest! Heh.

Anyway, anytime I have every had a cat de-clawed, I've made sure the back claws are still there. In a real fight, cats usually grab each other and rake with their back claws. Sure they ocassionally attack with their front claws, but not as often.

Plus, my cats do not go outside. I've had to many run over by cars to allow them out. As far as hairballs, we have hardwood floors through out most of the house, so it's not so bad.

I have noticed that a cat can tell the difference when it no longer has claws, but I don't think they dwell on it like a person would. As far as dogs, I love my Min Pin and take him lots of places. There's nothing wrong with taking care of a dog.

Especially a smart dog. No, he doesn't think about things like you or I do, but he has learned to associate certain things with what we say. Case in point, whenever I have to give him his heart worm pill, all I have to do is get it out of the cabinet and he's right there waiting for me to give it to him.

Then he chews it right up and swallows it. Easiest animal I've ever had to give medicine to.

Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2004
"We cannot ask the cat how it feels and we cannot empirically evaluate its emotional state, so anything else is in the owner's imagination."

Perhaps I misunderstood you, but - No, but we can't ask it or evaluate scientifically (with the exception of brain waves, which I believe has been proven to be similar to human brainwaves re: emotion, I'll do some research), but that doesn't mean that any possible emotions they have are in the owner's imagination. People accept when their dogs are happy, I see no reason to limit the emotional spectrum of animals to canines.

Kris Weberg | March 25, 2004
More tot he point, most mammalian domesticated animals do react visibly -- that is to say, observably -- to trauma and affection, indicating at the least some kind of affective capacity. While the lack of language prevents the kind of empirical observation we can make of another human's emotional state and psyche, certainly things like body language and broad behavioral changes fall under the category of things that can be empirically observed. Certainly, prior to the acquisition of overt language skills, human infants can both display and read emotinal states by observation of body language. And so too, in limited fashion, we do similar things by observing animal behavior over time and formulate a human narrative or account of the emotional states of certain animals.

I agree that anthropomorphization is inaccurate, of course, but tot he extent that one can define happiness as a pleased or "pleasure" reaction, fear as an aversion reaction, and listlessness as an apathetic response or lack of response, yes, we can say certain broad and qualified things about animals' "emotions."

Scott Hardie | March 25, 2004
If I had known it was going to draw this much response, I would have been more clear. In truth, I do agree that cats' moods can be judged fairly easily; I can tell in a second whether my cats are content, bored, angry, lonely, whatever. Ernest Hemingway famously wrote, "A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." We're all on the same page about that.

But in the lifetime I have spent living with them, never have I seen them demonstrate any of the emotions that opponents of the procedure ascribe to declawed cats: Confusion, shame, inadequacy, timidity, forlornness, et cetera. Other than walking tenderly for the first few weeks afterwards (physical pain), I have not seen cats demonstrate any feelings that are clearly related to the declawing. In fact, most of the cats still behaved as though they had claws, fruitlessly scratching at the chairs and rugs out of habit, so I would consider it a safe bet to say that these cats were possibly not even aware of the change. However, the half-dozen cats to which I refer were 100% indoor cats whose only feline contact was with each other around the house, so the need to defend themselves probably never crossed their minds like it did for the cats at the shelter where Anna worked.

John E Gunter | March 25, 2004
"In fact, most of the cats still behaved as though they had claws, fruitlessly scratching at the chairs and rugs out of habit"

Many of us that own cats are very happy at this fruitless scratching, believe me. But I agree with you Scott, that they don't seem to notice that they don't have claws. Course from what I understand, the scratching that cats do is to help keep their claws sharp, so when a de-clawed cat does it, they are still following their instincts.

At least that's the conclusion that I see, that and my two seem to like the feeling when they are scratching with their paws like that.

Scott Hardie | March 25, 2004
In addition to the normal everyday scratching with its phantom claws, my mother's cat will compulsively scratch her shoes every single time she comes home. It has become a greeting ritual.

Anna Gregoline | March 29, 2004
I'd just like to say, I am an opponent of the procedure, and I've never used any of the reasons you mentioned as an argument against declawing.

P.S. Cats are believed to scratch at things to scent mark them too, not just to sharpen their claws, so this might be why this behavior continues.

Scott Hardie | March 9, 2005
This is going back a year, but: The declawing ban in West Hollywood has been legally challenged by the California Veterinary Medical Association. (link)

The woman who led the campaign for the ban said, "I think the CVMA should be spending their time on something more constructive when there are so many animal problems... Fighting for the right to amputate the fingers off cats is really a waste of their money."

Really? An association of veterinarians, a profession that makes a lot of money from declawing and similar procedures, is wasting their money by fighting the ban on those procedures?

And this woman herself is a veterinarian? Only in West Hollywood.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
I can understand that vets make a lot of money off these procedures - but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I can see that for a lot of people and a lot of situations, they could only have a cat who was declawed. But it is usually unnecessary. Worse than that is the ear and tail docking of dogs - I'll admit, when animals have these procedures done, and they heal, I'm not sure they mind (except in the instance of where cats would want to defend themselves, sometimes cats become a little crazy after having their weapons taken away from them). But ear and tail docking is EXTREMELY unnecessary. I don't get why people do it.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Oh, this is such a touchy subject for me...

While I am not an advocate of *any* non-essential medical procedures on any animal (with the exception of spaying/neutering, of course), I do think the ban is somewhat preposterous... in the same way that I think any legislative interference having to do with doctors/medical practices and people's privacy is uncalled for (yes, I am "pro-choice") -- the less thinking that the government does on our behalf, the better! And I hesitate to think that the lifting of the ban has that much to do with vets making money off of such procedures... but as Anna says, "what do I know!" My optimistic side really wants to believe that it is, in fact, the "principle" of the matter that has the CVMA involved.

On the subject of de-clawing, though... I am not certain of what to think about its effects on cats. I, too, have heard the pain/shame argument from animal lovers, and I think I'd have to concur that for a cat to endure 2-3 weeks of pain just for the sake of convenience to its owner (or "guardian") is a bit egocentric. Having been a cat owner, I can appreciate the desire to not have cats shredding your household, but I would *definitely* exhaust all other options first and only resort to what *is* essentially amputation if behavior modification proves to be impossible. And I tend to agree with everybody here that beyond those first painful weeks, there is probably negligible impact to the psyche of cats such as described here (pampered and *very* domestic -- I agree with indoor-only cats). Also John's rationale about back claws is very sound, and Anna is correct about the dual purpose of scratching to scent mark.

Of course, since E is allergic to them, this is unlikely to ever be an issue for me again. My two cats that I had before the Navy currently reside with my vegan friend, Denise... and you can guess what her position on it is. ;D

As for ear/tail docking... today, it's primarily a cosmetic thing -- one that I can't really pretend to understand, either. But I do know that once upon a time, when dog-fighting was a legitimate pastime, and certain breeds of working dogs were also at risk in their jobs, the ears and tails were clipped in order to prevent injury to the dogs... such as an ear being bitten/torn off (images of Tyson/Holyfield are now springing to my mind) -- so in a back-handed kind of way, it was actually a favor to the animals to do it. Perhaps the people who continue to do it today somehow think that they are, in fact, paying homage to and honoring the traditional appearances and/or purposes of those breeds -- this is the only explanation that I can think of, albeit not necessarily legitimate. (I think dog-fighting is gross and heinous, too, but this is the history...)

I have learned much more about dogs since bringing home two babies of a somewhat controversial family of breeds (the "bully breeds"), and I have already experienced some of the offensive questioning that I had read would go with (e.g., "Are you going to have their ears clipped?" "Are those pit bull puppies?" -- followed quickly by -- "Do you want to sell them?") I am constantly amazed that people don't seem to regard pet ownership with the same level of ethics and responsibility that we do.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
My number two reason against docking, after the pointlessness and pain it causes the animal, is that they're much cuter without it! I guess a lot of people who want pit bulls and such don't want them to be "cute" but man, when you see them not tampered with, they are much more beautiful animals, in my opinion.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
I agree on both counts, but it's true that people in search of certain breeds definitely have certain "expectations" to go with...

Our puppies are American Bulldogs (and sisters/litter-mates), BTW... one with a very distinctly "bulldog" face, but the other is more slender and bears stronger resemblance to the pit bulls. I think she's the reason that I was asked that.

Scott Hardie | March 10, 2005
I'm going to speak a little harshly here, so forgive me. Y'all know I'm a cat owner and a cat lover myself; I just try to keep things in perspective.

The ban seems to me not inspired by any real need — when we as a society deem declawing cats to be cruel, then we as a society will stop doing it — but inspired by the whims of bleeding-heart cat lovers who can't bear the thought of any precious cat being hurt. The woman who spearheaded the campaign to ban declawing suggests that veterinarians address more important issues than declawing, which begs the question: Why didn't she address more important issues than declawing? After all, the veterinarians have much more of a stake in the legality of declawing than she did, yet she went out of her way to champion the issue despite it not being as important as others, as she admits. What other possible reasons could there be for her pursuit of such an unfounded agenda than her own whim?

Yes, declawing causes pain & suffering, and it is done at the whim of the owner. Yes, it is cruel, and it is unnecessary. But the same things can be said of spanking your children, and no one will outlaw spanking, because it's still your right to raise your children as you see fit. And the same things can also be said of abortion, which does face frequent challenges in court but so far remains legal, because it's still your right to terminate your pregnancy as you see fit. I'll say it again: When we as a society determine a practice too cruel to continue, we will stop doing it. Until then, how about we stop enforcing our will on each other with arbitrary laws that even we admit are not important?

Jackie Mason | March 10, 2005
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Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Scott, I didn't find your words too harsh... but I offer a similar disclaimer in case of same. Just for clarification here... you did understand that I was speaking in favor of lifting the ban also, right? Additionally, I wouldn't really compare de-clawing to spankings... it's more like if you decided that you could better keep your kids out of trouble if you had their fingers removed -- and then, you wouldn't *have* to spank them, because the laziness of having their fingers removed took the work out of the discipline factor for you! (Believe me... I was brought up by the belt, and I *am* in favor of spanking children AND animals. Positive reinforcement has its place, but it's much more effective when used in combination with negative reinforcement, too!)

And Jackie, you are right that it is better to do it young -- however, when they are young is also the best time to start *teaching* them NOT to shred... it can be done. If you are diligent in the beginning, you can train animals (and children!) to do most anything -- you can even potty train cats on the toilet, for crying out loud! The problem is that people are naturally lazy and will choose whatever means that will make for putting forth the *least* amount of effort and doing the smallest amount of *work*! I hope that you won't feel as if I am pointing a finger at you and/or calling you a bad pet owner... after all, as Scott said, it is "still your right to raise your children [or pets] as you see fit" -- and perhaps it's just that your cats were acquired at an advanced stage or by rescue, or perhaps you were too young or (more likely) too busy to take on that kind of responsibility. Either way, I have had cats that weren't de-clawed who behaved themselves in an appropriate manner... and so I *know* that it can be done. Also, I did say that I would consider de-clawing... but only as a last resort after all attempts at behavior modification have failed.

Please forgive me (I said before that this was a touchy subject for me), but it's just my personal feeling that anyone who acquires any pet -- but ESPECIALLY upon intention (like buying) and at a young age (for the animal) -- should be fully prepared for the burden of training that animal to act appropriately and not just magically expect them to behave the way you want them to. In this way, they *are* like humans/children, and I feel the same way about parenthood. Bad parenting and bad pet "guardianship" amount to the same thing... only people can't just (legally) get rid of or dump their kids off to most likely be destroyed when they're displeased with them. (I fully realize that there are far more consequences to bad parenthood... most of which we pay AS A SOCIETY... but I am trying to limit my comments to the topic at hand here.)

And lastly, as I stated in Aaron's thread, I don't think that approval or disapproval AS A SOCIETY gives *anything* an innate or inherent moral/ethical status. A million people *CAN* be wrong... and they frequently are -- history is chock full of examples.

Scott Hardie | March 10, 2005
Amy: I did understand. I was not responding to you, just stating my own opinion about the ban.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
"and I *am* in favor of spanking children AND animals."

I'd always heard that animals don't respond well to physical negative reinforcement.

Scott Horowitz | March 10, 2005
If you have a pet monkey, does that make you spank the monkey???? hehehe

Kris Weberg | March 10, 2005
Right, but how does a social consensus form except because certain individuals or small groups vocally make it an issue? Certainly there are issues that anyone today would consider "important' which, not so long ago, were governed by an odious conventional wisdom.

And children don't respond all that well to negative physical reinforcement, either.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
The saddest and funniest thing is when you see someone hit a child saying something like, "Don't hit your brother!"


Jackie Mason | March 10, 2005
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Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Scott: I thought so, I just wanted to make sure. I've noticed that it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between "responding to something" and "just saying something" -- especially when one is right on the heels of the other -- and it's the reason for a lot of unnecessary argument here. I just wanted to clarify for that reason... thanks.

Spanking isn't a perpetual solution... it has to be used selectively, in the right circumstances, to be the most effective. This is where people get hung up and turn a proper disciplinary tool into "abuse". I can tell you for a fact that certainly not every spanking I ever got as a child was warranted, but the fact that my parents were willing to use them was quite the deterrent for most behavior (bad, or otherwise, unfortunately).

As I was saying, I was trying to stay on the topic of animals, but...

I am well aware of the plethora of tools available for parents to discipline their children, not the least of which is *reasoning* -- which can even be done on certain levels with toddlers. This is not an option with animals, however. Children (and to a lesser extent, animals) can often be steered into right decision-making by the use of offering "choices" -- but this is a pretty limited thing with animals, too. I believe that every good parent wants to keep their child (or pet) from any unnecessary physical harm, and -- ironically -- this is when spankings (or other "negative physical reinforcement") are the most warranted and appropriate.

In the effort to keep a child away from the hot stove or iron, a parent might smack or slap a hand or even a bottom, because it is both necessary and appropriate for the child to associate *pain* with the action of touching the stove or iron. If the curiosity factor is high enough, this action might have to be repeated a few or several times in order to get the point across. If the same child actually touches the hot stove/iron and gets burned, will the parent administer punishment then??? I would hope not! The curiosity has been satisfied, and the lesson of pain/injury has been learned and associated with "Don't touch that -- it's hot!" Unless you have a stupid or clumsy child, he isn't likely to do that again, so why further the pain???

Well, then, why not go ahead and allow the child to learn all lessons in this manner??? The obvious answer is the inability to control the amount of pain/injury sustained from said unwanted behavior. Perhaps, in the example of the hot iron/stove, the extent may simply be a red or somewhat blistered finger... counting on good reflex time. ;-) If there's a pot of boiling water on that same stove, however, the stakes go up a bit. I don't think that anyone wants their child to carry a permanent physical reminder of why touching hot objects is bad, so nobody in their right mind will allow that child to scald themselves by pulling on the pot! A pre-emptive spanking would probably be in order.

This is the nature of most lessons with pets, too... the possibility of injury to the animal or another human being (or their property...) is dealt with pre-emptively by use of negative (physical) reinforcement. You can't just allow a child or animal to learn the lesson of running into the street unaccompanied the way you can allow the hot iron. And there isn't time to reason with either when it happens. This is a very essential survival/pain lesson that has to be learned fast and well... therefore, a spanking is in order. And with the animals in this example, there exist several other options to spanking in the form of electrical fences/collars/etc., depending on what you think is appropriate. You can teach your dog this lesson by spanking alone, but I don't think it will do much for horses and cows -- for whom fencing is a necessity... and perhaps such that will deliver the lesson that escape would be bad.

In the example you gave about hitting, Anna, I think that the lesson is just as much psychological as it is physical. The child is learning a) his place in the familial hierarchy, which is *below* the parents and *equal* to his brother, and b) the reason that the brother doesn't want/need to be hit by association of the pain involved. My dog doesn't bite in part because she knows she'll get a good whack if she does! I don't see that this is an unreasonable line of logic.

Denise Sawicki | March 10, 2005
Strangely enough, reasoning seems to work a lot better on my rabbit than force. Try to chase her around and catch her to put her back in her cage, and it will never happen, she is so much faster and more maneuverable than a person. But walk up to her and ask her nicely, "Bella, would you please go back in your cage?" and she will go right in. (She somehow seems to understand the implication that if she doesn't go in nicely she will be subjected to a terrifying chase). Then again, as far as getting her to stop eating pillows and carpet, I don't think there's any measure that will get the message into her little bunny brain. Drenching my entire carpet in hot sauce probably isn't an option :)

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
Yeah, except it doesn't work as well as positive reinforcement - your logic sounds pretty good (although I still think that telling a child not to hit by hitting him is ridiculous) except that it's been proven that negative reinforcement with phsyical punishment is NOT the way to go, certainly with animals. I bet you'd find that every humane society in the country advocates positive reinforcement with animals, and would strongly suggest NEVER hitting a dog. I'm doing some preliminary searching, and finding that same advice everywhere. Looking for scientific articles though still...

I'll add a caveat - of course some people will say that you'll get faster and better results with negative reinforcement. And maybe sometimes it works better - but the risks of getting a damaged animal as a result certainly seem higher.

John E Gunter | March 10, 2005
I agree with Jackie about some animals not being trainable. Some of your success at training does depend on when you start training the animal and the effort to put into it, but some animals are just stubborn.

We had a cat, that we got as a stray, who was at least a year old, who would claw up the back of a couple of chairs. We tried everything that “works” for training a cat and the best we got from him was that he would wait until knew no one was close enough to him to reach him and then he’d do the deed.

If you watched him, as he was getting ready to do it, you could tell what he was up to. Course, that only worked so well, as once he realized what we were up to, trying to catch him at it, he’d make sure to detour at the last minute and then wait until we went away to go back and then scratch the chair.

I personally don’t like removing a cat’s claws, but am glad we’ve removed the front claws of the monster we have now. I’m sure my wife is happy as well as he has a tendancy to be a bully and get very ornery sometimes. He’s actually attacked my wife and bit her, mostly because he was playing and really doesn’t get the fact that his teeth hurt cause we don’t have the fur coat that he does. So I can just imagine what it would be like if the beast had claws also.

Plus, he sometimes takes a swat at the dogs. Not that they don’t deserve it, cuz they have a tendancy to hunt him, but, I’m glad I don’t have to take the dogs into the vet for stitches because the cat scratched their faces.

At first, I thought that the dogs were bullying him, but after watching them, I realized that they are just playing, but playing a lot rougher than I’d want to. Oh and both dogs are the most spoiled animals I’ve seen, with one of them even pouting when he doesn’t get his way. Not really the same kind of pouting that you would attribute to a human, but other friends of ours have noticed when the dog is pouting.

As far as spanking children, I’m all for the occasional corporal punishment, but there comes a point where it’s no longer effective and you are better off not doing it anymore. Grounding, with no phone, friends or outside activities, beyond the youth sports activities and school has worked so much better than the spanking does these days. Well that and the long lectures as to why what he did was wrong. :-D


Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
Aw, you have a bunny, Denise?!!? What is it's name? What kind?

Bunnies are surprisingly intelligent. I never knew until my pal D. R. got two (now three!). They play tag with you! And fetch! And snuggle!

They were just born to chew though. =)

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
It's nice that you and Bella have an understanding, Denise. I don't have to use force with my animals in all situations, either. Like I said, "Positive reinforcement has its place..."

The puppies are almost 11 weeks old now, and we are on the verge of complete success with housebreaking. Yesterday would have made 3 straight days without an accident, but Angel only made it to the back door last night on her way to let me know that she needed out. We read that if you put a bell up by/on the door and ring it when you take them out, they will associate and try to ring it themselves when they need to go out. So we did this, and it is working fantastically! Rewarding them for their successful outings is very effective, too. I think they are doing incredibly well for being so young, and I am very proud of them. There has been hardly any spanking involved, and they do understand when we yell "NO!"

Angel goes into her kennel without issue, too -- she seems to like it in there.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
I'll add a caveat - of course some people will say that you'll get faster and better results with negative reinforcement. And maybe sometimes it works better - but the risks of getting a damaged animal as a result certainly seem higher.

We don't *beat* them, Anna!

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
What? I didn't think you did. I meant damaged pyschologically.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
John, I understand about some animals not being trainable -- I thought that I made that clear already, and a year-old stray definitely falls into that category... that is too long under his own rules for any cat.

I have experienced the same "sneaky" behavior in animals... very frustrating, and I agree about dogs pouting. We have two pouters, too.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Oh... sorry. Well, my oldest is 8 years, and I think she's quite happy and well-adjusted, thanks. :-)

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Also, John, in all of the above examples, I am thinking of pre-kindergarden aged children... I agree that beyond this, the tactics you mention are the most effective. Unfortunately, though, most animals are perpetual toddlers! ;-)

Actually, CC is much brighter now than she was during her training years -- she's far more clever than she lets on to be at times. Angel had given everyone that saw the whole litter the impression that she's "slow" or "dumb" -- but it's really just an indifferent personality... she's the one who uses the bell most, which is *great*, because she isn't as vocal as Devil.

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
Denise, have you tried using bitter apple? It's a chewing deterrent and can be sprayed on anything, including carpet. It isn't a "one-application only" type deal, though. Don't know if it would work well enough for you, but at least it's not hot sauce. ;-)

Denise Sawicki | March 10, 2005
Bella is a black and white dutch bunny. She normally doesn't strike me as being that intelligent but maybe she just plays dumb so that she can get away with chewing on stuff. I confess I haven't really tried to train her out of chewing on the carpet. She can't come out without supervision because eventually she is going to find a way to get at the electrical cords we have hidden away... I just chase her away from whatever she's eating when she's eating something she shouldn't. She doesn't really get enough attention and I'll have to work on that . She does seem to rather like being in her cage; it is a huge dog crate...

That is cool about dogs ringing bells.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
Rabbits chew on everything - I've never heard of a rabbit being taught not to chew on some things and chew on other, more appropriate things. Just a lagomorph trait, I guess!

John E Gunter | March 10, 2005
You have to be careful with chewing type animals, you need to make sure that you don't break them of the important chewing instinct, but also protect your furniture.

Our prairie dogs destroyed one of our couches, a carpet, a few coffee table legs, the bottom of a couple of doors and basically about 8 cages worth of wood. I built most of their cages with a wooden frame and hardware cloth mess. If you don't know what hardware cloth is, think of chicken wire, but it's made of little squares instead of medium size hexes.

Anyway, their latest cage is a dog cage, the size that you'd put large dogs in, but it has hardware cloth attached to the outside, because the bars are wide enough that the little monsters climb through them. But, since they are chewers, they want to chew things, and I believe rabits are the same way. So I make sure I've got plenty of wood and stuff in the cage for them to chew.

They usually don't want to chew what I've provided them, kind of like the cat that you get the nice toy for but they'd rather play with the bag that you brought it home from the store in. ;-D

So, I've got 3 doors that have had the bottoms chewed, some computer printer cables that were chewed and replaced, numerous lamp cords that they have chewed and I've had to chase them away from so they don't electricute themselves and the carpet in one of the rooms.

As far as something to punish a dog with, if you use the roll that paper towels come on, after all of the towels have been used, it works really well. Doesn't hurt them, but the noise it makes gets their attention. I think we actually only used it twice on the dogs, but now all we have to do is pick up one and tell them "No" in a loud firm voice and they immediately stop the bad behavior.

Oh and spanking children, personally, I think you can do it to full effect until they are around 10 or 11. If I remember correctly, my brother and I were fearful of the strap till around 15, but times were different than they are now.


Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
I'm sure parenting children is hard, and I'm not criticizing your parents, as it WAS a different time. I'm definitely sure that I don't want to incite terror in my children, make them afraid that I'm going to hit them if they do something wrong. To me, hitting isn't ever a problem solver - it's not a way to resolve conflict, and it's not a way to show children how to solve a conflict either. It makes even less sense to me with animals, who can't intellectualize at all the reasons you did so. I can understand the desire to hit a kid for doing something wrong too! It's easy to get frustrated with them. I think it's easy to hit but harder to make a child see exactly how wrong they are, and that's why physical punishment probably happens so often. I don't know. There's already so much violence in the world that it makes me uncomfortable to think of hitting my (non-existant) children. While I don't like the current style of "reasoning" parenting (where parents spend all their time reasoning with a bratty kid that is throwing a tantrum, for example), I am unable to see how hitting could be effective in a positive way. I have no doubt it can stop the child from doing the behavior, but I'm unsure of the cost.

(Before I get hated on, I want to say that this is my opinion and I'm commenting on no one's parenting styles, just sharing my own preferences and thoughts. I tried to make that clear, but I'm often misunderstood, as you all know.)

Amy Austin | March 10, 2005
I tend to agree with 8-12, John (depending on maturity)... 3-6 was just the learning curve of my examples above. Like you, though, I think the last time I get hit by the 'rents was in my teens (13 or 14). It was pretty bad, however -- rather bordering on a beating -- and I think that the sheer shock of it for all involved was what put an end to that. My father actually apologized for it, that's how much of a jolt it was. (You have to understand here that I haven't heard too many apologies from my folks in my life...) Not to sound sexist about it, but it was more your average father-son type interaction for that age, not a father-daughter one... I don't know too many women who've had that sort of thing happen (outside of a legitimately abusive relationship, of course) at that late an age. It was pretty upsetting.

As I've stated here before, my brother and sister were raised *entirely* differently from my sister and myself -- they may have been spanked a handful of times, but for the most part, it just was not used or needed. They are two of the finest children (almost young adults now) that I know, and that isn't just because they're my siblings -- they are the product of very careful and concerned rearing on the part of my folks. So I know that spank-free can be successful... but I do still believe in it at a very minimum level, as do my folks.

And I think that you'd be hard-pressed to be a purist in any form of discipline, much less the "reasoning" style. But hitting as punishment isn't meant to be a pressure release or venting of frustration for the parent... as doing so in a tantrum situation would be -- and yes, that is hard to resist! Neither is reasoning going to work in that scenario. Nor, I think, is it really intended to... it's more of a general approach to be used when the child is exercising his/her independence in a more controlled fashion (i.e., rational defiance... and the "no" syndrome) -- it's a fine approach to use when everyone is calm, but it's not for tantrums, as many seem to mistakenly think. Isolation tactics are in order here... no easy thing in itself when you're in public. This is what "time out" is designed for... a "cooling off period" for both parent and child. If that means taking your child to the bathroom or your car when out in public, then that's what you do. You can't be lazy about it, unless you want to "lose" in the tantrum by becoming a spectacle or hitting out of frustration. In times like these, it's a really great thing to be able to have *two* parents who can take turns with the task -- because that's really what it is... a task -- and if you're the only parent, it's so much easier to succumb to the frustration, because nobody wants to constantly be taken away from their public outings or to always be the heavy! Children (like a lot of animals) are naturally social creatures, however, and pretty soon, simply the threat alone of such isolation ("I'll take you to the car", "time out...", etc.) -- just as John's raised towel tube -- will usually be sufficient to curb bad behavior in public.

Of course, all of this is much easier said than done, and even the best of parents may slip up from time to time.

Anna Gregoline | March 10, 2005
I guess I did imply that hitting a child is always in anger....which is the kind I always see. But I guess it can be deliberate too, which seems way creepier to me.

Denise Sawicki | March 10, 2005
Well, remind me not to get any pet prairie dogs, they sound even more troublesome than rabbits :-) (But cute, I'm sure.)

Jackie Mason | March 11, 2005
[hidden by request]

John E Gunter | March 11, 2005
Even though I have no problem with corporal punishment, and I use the term because corporal punishment is meant to be a controlled negative reinforcement, not abuse, I also understand that not everyone agrees with me. But one thing that is very important to remember, abuse is not the way to go either.

What you need to do is find the proper punishment to fit the situation, meaning what will work for both the parent and the child/pet. I know that doesn't always happen, as most times when you are in the situation where you have to meet out punishment, you're usually pretty mad. But it's very important to keep a level head when you have to do the deed.

I've used the time out method, in fact that's what I used most of the time, due to the fact that I used to have periods of uncontrolled rage when younger and broke myself of it completely by self-control. So you can imagine why I try to be so controlled when I have to punish the child/pet. I can very easily cause permanent injury, which is something I really don't want to do.

In the 9 years that Christopher has been with us, I’ve only spanked him 1 time. I was extremely careful to only hit his bottom, as I knew the possibility of injuring him, due to my strength, was very real. The same goes for dealing with the pets, even more so, as most of our pets are small and even more delicate than the child.

But I also know where you’re coming from Anna and I understand you’re not condemning me for my opinion on the subject as I’m not condemning you for yours. :-D We each have to do what we feel is the right thing with our respective ‘children’. Yes, I consider my pets to be my four legged children.

Heck, lots of times they’re better than the 2 legged ones as they don’t usually talk back and if they do, it comes across as a cute thing, rather than the nasty comments that get my blood boiling and make me want to beat the child and I do mean beat. But like I said at the beginning of my comment, I believe in corporal punishment, not abuse.

I think the most important thing to discover though is what method works the best for you and the child!

I'm glad I re-read my comment as I originally started to comment on the form, but then pasted it into Word and got multiple copies of the beginning.


Kris Weberg | March 11, 2005
I dunno, John, your use of spanking seems to fit with my own take on it, to wit: the only way corporal punishment is effective without being abusive is when it's really a psychological thing. It's not about inflicting pain, but about asserting parental authority and demonstrating to the child who has the power and who sets the guidelines.

Picking a kid up and spanking him or her is a fast, immediate way to do that. I just don't think it's the only way, and I think the alternatives, while more difficult and slower to work, carry with them less potential to slip into inefficacy or abuse.

I'd opine that you're doing spanking right, and for the right reasons; I just personally feel there are better ways to get to the same point.

But y'know, it's not my kid, and you've described a perfectly legitemate and a perfectly fine model of discipline, so please take this in the register of simple opinion rather than overt prescription.

Kris Weberg | March 11, 2005
(And for the record, my parents tried spanking me. Didn't work.)

John E Gunter | March 11, 2005
Well, for this one instance, it did work. He was picking on one of the cats at the time to the point of almost abusing the animal and I kept telling him to stop. He wouldn't so I went to get the paddle. I don't like the idea of using a belt, less control. Thinking back on the incident, the wait for me to get back with the paddle was probably worst than using the paddle on him, i.e., the psychological power of the punishment.

Anyway, after the spanking, he never pestered that cat again. Course, he did pester the other cat, but that one got back at him. He'd wait till sometime later, even days later and when Chris would walk by him, after completely forgetting what he had done to the cat, the cat would jump out at him and bite him sometimes.

Fortunately, the cat never bit him bad enough that we needed to get him stitches, but Chris finally learned that lesson. But like I told Anna, I know what you're getting at and like with most things, you've got to work out what works best.

On the flip side, I completely believe that you also have to reward. Positive reinforcement is extremely important. I try to make sure that I tell him he did a good job with something and that I'm proud of him when he's gotten good grades or done well in his sports.

Plus, I try to be careful about negative things I say to him when lecturing him. Calling him stupid or ignorant is not the way to go and I try to take the time to think about what I'm going to say instead of just saying the wrong things, which I feel can be worst than a spanking!


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