May 24, 2017 4:04 pm

Why you should think twice before sharing a video of a dog walking on its hind legs

This brown poodle has been showing up on social media feeds this week. Millions have shared it, while others are expressing concern for the dog.

YouTube screenshot / China Viral Videos
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(WARNING: VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT)

The latest in viral dog videos shows a poodle walking upright like a human. But while some think the videos are cute, others say the dog is being mistreated by its owner.

Videos of the poodle, who has become somewhat of a Chinese viral sensation, have been making its way onto North American social media feeds this week. The videos show a brown poodle walking upright through an unknown city street in China dressed in costumes and a backpack.

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However, animal lovers and activists are warning people against sharing the video — and other viral animal videos like it — as they claim these animals are often abused.

Pet owners have been caught on video using negative training tactics and animal abuse in the past to train animals in doing these types of stunts — like the one below — which are now being re-shared.

(WARNING: VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT)

But according to the International Business Times, the dog’s owner (who goes by Wen) claims the pup chooses to walk on her hind legs on her own accord and has not been abused.

While the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) Animal Welfare Committee in no way condones the abusive treatment of animals or negative reinforcement training tactics, Dr. Patricia Alderson says it’s difficult to determine the circumstances surrounding these videos.

“It’s a cute trick and gets attention,” Alderson, chair of the committee, says. “But we don’t know the training that went on behind that. Hopefully it’s training by positive reinforcement in a humane manner.”

Alderson explains that sometimes dogs will do these types of tricks on their own without any training. This could be because it’s part of their behaviour, or the dog had done it once before and received a positive reaction, therefore leading it to seek out that approval once again.

If the dog is performing the trick short-term as a novelty, Alderson doesn’t see it as being harmful as long as the animal was treated properly and enjoys performing the tricks. For the long-term however, that could mean health issues later in life.

“If it’s chronic that they’re on their legs like that, then it’s not a natural posture for a dog to be in, so it does produce more wear and tear on the joints,” she says. “This can lead to muscle and joint disease.”

Dogs with these issues are then often treated with anti-inflammatory medication as they age, Alderson says.

But if a dog partakes in negative training tactics and is abused in order for them to learn these tricks, it can impact their mental well-being.

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“It can change their behaivour,” Alderson says. “There’s something called ‘leaned helplessness.’ It’s when [the dog] realizes they can’t do anything about the situation and they just give up.”

And it’s not always easy to detect if a dog has been abused.

“Some behaviours that we attribute to what people typically people think of as abuse-resulting behaviours — like cowering and hiding for example — those can be just a natural tendency in some animals who are shy or who haven’t been socialized,” Alderson explains. “Unless there’s actually physical injuries, or something witnessed, it can actually be very hard to detect abuse.”

However, there are some things to look out for that may signal animal cruelty, according to the BCSPCA:

  • The animal is deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, ventilation, light, space, exercise, care or veterinary treatment
  • The animal is thin and emaciated
  • The animal is wounded or injured
  • The animal is kept in poor conditions
  • The animal’s hair is badly matted
  • The animal has untreated infections

If you believe an animal is being abused, the CVMA suggests contacting your local humane authority to report the suspected abuse.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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