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For the last four days, I have been in some inner turmoil. Admittedly it’s not about world peace, and no doubt many people will think that I’m getting my underwear in a twist over nothing… but to me, the way in which we treat dogs in this country matters – really matters. And how we represent that on TV matters to me too. So what has caused this turmoil? In a word, Crufts.

The fact is that I love dogs – I love watching them and I love seeing them handled with empathy and skill in a way that gets the best from them without compulsion. But, what was the world shown on TV throughout the four days – and then in front of a huge audience in the Best In Show ring on the final day?

Dogs showing multiple stress signs, dogs being handled by ‘professionals’ in a way that may be customary for the show world in some countries, but is simply not appropriate – and dogs that are very obviously not enjoying themselves – but that’s apparently OK because their handler may win a prize.

In the last few years, the show world has been put under pressure to sort out health problems in our pedigree dogs. What about our dogs’ emotional health? Who is looking out for that? The ‘silent stress’ epidemic that I witnessed at Crufts in person last year and on TV this year tells me that those of us in the behaviour and training world need to stand up for dogs and give them a voice. This is not fair on our wonderful, beautiful dogs. It’s not OK.

The question is – who will listen when we say it?

Sarah’s ’20 Ways to Spot if your Dog is Stressed’ is available here for FREE. Please share this with anyone who might benefit.




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photography by Amanda Clarke Photography

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