We rescued our Belgian Malinois about ten years ago. She had been bred for Homeland Security, flunked out and was sent to Henrico Police Dept. flunked out and landed in Fluvanna SPCA.

At first she seemed fairly normal for a Malinois and we felt pretty fortunate. She listened well, we treated her with yummy things and she responded happily.

Little by little we started to see odd behaviors. When the garbage truck was backing up she would start panting heavily, pacing, shaking severely and throwing herself against us. We saw the same behavior if the smoke alarm went off. One spring evening there was the lovely sound of Peep Frogs coming through the window. Sage started exhibiting these behaviors.

Suddenly I started putting it together. All of these things had one thing in common, a beeping sound. It is common knowledge that Military and Police Dogs are trained with shock collars. Initially they will give a warning beep, if the dog does not respond they are shocked until they do. It makes no difference as to the length of time it takes them to figure it out. They are shocked until they do. The theory behind this is: When the shock stops they are positively reinforced.

We have had Sage for ten years in which time she has never been shocked. Our poor dog has never forgotten the sound which means pain will be delivered. We try our best to comfort her by redirecting her to something truly positive such as a cookie or her ball but until the sound stops she remains a tormented dog.

For those of you out there who might be tempted by the promise of “Off Leash” training, you will not be introducing your dog to a lifetime of freedom; you will have chained them to a lifetime of fear, uncertainty and pain.

We have leash laws for a reason. It keeps them safe and it keeps others safe. If your dog will not come to you when called, you have not trained them enough. There are plenty of safe places for your dog to play off leash.  Keep the leash on and teach your dog that you will keep them safe.

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