Dog Faming

Summer doesn’t lunge for dropped food (even though she LOVES cookies)

Many of you are probably familiar with the trend of “dog shaming.” It consists of taking a photo of your dog next to a sign describing a naughty thing they have done, preferably with evidence of the misdeed.

I’m not a complete wet blanket. Many of these are done with love and with a twinkle in the owner’s eye. They are adorable and make me smile. But as a positive reinforcement trainer the concept rubs me the wrong way because of the persistent misunderstandings our society has about dogs and their behavior. The things the dogs do are natural doggie behaviors that we, as the ones with the big brains and the keys to the food cupboards, usually could have prevented if we considered them undesirable. In other words, in many cases it should be the owner in the photo next to a “shaming” sign.

So I thought it was a great idea when Stephanie Coleman of Caninestein started a counter-trend and contest on her FaceBook page of “No Shaming, More Faming.” In the spirit of positive reinforcement, take a picture of your dog next to a sign describing something great that they do. Catch your dog doing something right. Show the world.

I hope others will join me. Let’s get out there and show that dogs are just as cute doing good stuff!  (Good on you, Sharon and Barnum, for taking up the torch!)

Shout out to Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels once again, for helping me train these behaviors.

Update 10/31/14: Check out the Dog Faming Facebook community. A great place to show off your dog doing something right!

Zani stays back from the open door
Cricket still peed outside at age 17  (RIP little Cricket)
Clara comes when called. Oh, for a faster camera!

Thanks for viewing!

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Dog Faming 2: Their Gifts to Us

52 thoughts on “Dog Faming

  1. This is awesome!! I post photos of my 3 dogs all the time, trying to write something fun and positive about what they are doing. =)

      1. This is a great idea. The photos are for fun and games. I don’t see how that taking a photo is hazardous to positive reinforcement. The whole concept is adding something pleasant to the training situation. I’m sorry but I don’t understand how people are taking this to the extreme and affecting their dogs behaviour… Or how it even relates to training.

        1. Hi Jessie,
          Is there a controversy about the faming photos that I don’t know about? Or is it just about the shaming ones? In any case, glad you like the faming idea. I sure do!

  2. Great Stuff! So important to focus on the positive. I never really understood those people who seem to revel in both their dogs and kids bad behaviour.

    1. Thanks Marjorie! I confess I have taken a picture of just about everything Clara has chewed to death. But about half of those were things I had given her in hopes that they were indestructible, smile.

      1. One important note, you will never change behaviour by shaming, you only erode self -esteem. I believe this applies to both people and dogs.

        1. Yes, Marjorie. And since no dog is intrinsically “shamed” by having their photo posted on the Internet, it makes me wonder what else the people do with the goal of truly “shaming” their dog.

  3. Ugh. I didn’t know about this dog shaming business. Like the world needs more shaming (yes, even as a joke, after all, “there’s a little truth in every tease”).

    On a HAPPIER note, I LOVE these pics! My favorites are “Clara-the-blur” (WOW!) and Zani’s ADORABLY tilted head! It’s like you said, “OK, now look ridiculously cute when I take this picture.” Click!

    What a delightful, fun post. And a form of thanksgiving — gratitude for your dogs’ behavior, for Sue Eh in helping you learn to teach it, etc. Appropriate for the time of year. Now I’m thinking I need to take some of Barnum. The hardest part will be making the signs and figuring out how to keep them from falling over when he is doing his things. Great inspiration for holiday cards, too!

    1. You and Marjorie have made me think I was perhaps a little too forgiving about the dog shaming thing. I looked at the FaceBook page/s by that name after posting and they are pretty depressing. At least the website I saw had some cute pics. The thing that bothers me far more is the “dog looking guilty” meme. But there is probably some overlap, at least in the mentality.

      That’s pretty much what I did with Zani. We don’t quite have the head tilt on cue, but I can usually get her to do it.

      Glad you liked the photos. They were fun to do. I hope you can take some! That’s a good idea for cards.

      1. So, I went and looked at one of the MANY Facebook Dog Shaming pages, and I feel really sad now. There are lots of pics that say things like, “I eat poop/roll in poop/destroy dad’s slippers/eat underwear *every day*.” And pictures of destroyed cushions, papers, clothes EVERYWHERE with the dogs loose in a big area — an entire yard, an entire house, an entire garage — and I’m thinking, “Have you never heard of MAINTENANCE? Have you never heard of a crate or X-pen or training or interactive toys?” I don’t get it. If my dog was doing X thing EVERY DAY, and I didn’t want them to do X, I would make it hard or impossible to do it. If you know your dog likes to roll in poop, why give her access to poop? If you know she tears apart the cushions while you’re at work, why not USE the crate you have in the background of your picture? There were several about dogs eating non-food items, including one dog who woke up his owner barfing up three pairs of panties. She’s lucky she didn’t wake up to take him to the ER for surgery! Or find him dead the next morning. And most of the dogs look pretty miserable.
        Accidents happen. I get that. Especially with puppies and adolescents. I get that it’s not possible to watch your dog every minute of every day. But if something is occurring regularly, predictably? Why, humans, why? Sometimes I despair of humanity.

    1. Thanks, Gail! The photo is actually a video still. It was hard to pick one (they were all blurry of course). I was tempted to post them all as a series, but didn’t want to do overkill. The cool thing is that the series captures a double suspension gallop. I always thought she could.

  4. The “shaming” always makes me a little sad even if some of the pictures are cute, so seeing your dogs in these darling photos made my day 🙂 I love Stephanie Coleman’s concept of “No shaming, More faming.”

  5. Outstanding idea. I don’t have a photo but I could certainly boast about my dog’s accomplishments forever. Like, the other day: “Dog reactive dog ignores neighbor dogs barking at her in her yard.” 🙂

  6. So much more positive and totally agree that we mustn’t perpetuate the whole ‘guilt’ perception, it can be so damaging to the owner/dog relationship!

  7. I think it is a good idea to show the world how great your dog is by “faming” them, however, I have nothing against “shaming” them either. It can turn a situation in which the owner is angry into a funny moment which in turn is actually beneficial for the dog as the negative feelings surrounding the moment pass faster. It’s similar to taking a photo of something your kid did that was awful but funny. I would worry more about the dogs who eat their bed and the owners cannot laugh at it, instead they yell or throw their dog in a crate for the rest of the day or even worse. The dog shaming world says “Hey, don’t be mad, this happens to all of us, relax and laugh about the situation”.

    My favorite puppy taming saying was if your dog pees on the floor, roll up a newspaper, walk over to them, and hit yourself over the head. You screwed up. And this is the case for many things, but sometimes shit happens and you have to laugh at your dog because what was he thinking when they ate your baby’s sock off their foot? It’s funny and your dog will appreciate you laughing with them, especially when they know they’ve done something bad (like many of those “sad faced” shaming photos show). It’s not sadness it is guilt and there is a reason we feel it and our dog feels it. It means you’ve trained them well enough that they know it was wrong but for whatever doggone reason they HAD to eat that sock off that baby’s foot! And why punish them when they know they’ve done something bad, laugh about it instead!

    1. Hi Laura, and thanks for commenting. I’m glad you felt free to express a bit of a differing view. I agree with so much you said. I certainly have photos of things my dogs did that were both very cute and unfortunate. Also it’s a very good point that taking a picture can diffuse the human’s frustration. Laughing is definitely better than punishing.

      The place I disagree is about the guilt. The “guilty looks” that our dogs can do so well have been shown _not_ to correlate with their doing anything wrong. In other words, it’s not guilt. It is generally appeasement, a reaction to the human’s actions or demeanor. Here is a link to the description of a very well designed study that showed this: What Really Prompts the Dog’s “Guilty Look” Dogs were scolded for a misdeed by their owners, who had been out of the room. Some of the dogs hadn’t done it, but the owners didn’t know that. It turns out there was no correlation with “guilty behavior” on the dogs’ parts with whether they had done the misdeed. In fact, the dogs who didn’t do it exhibited more “guilt.”

      When I see undesirable dog behavior, it is almost always because I (or whoever) _haven’t_ trained the desired behavior well enough. The dog is doing the thing that is most fun or reinforcing. That means that I haven’t made what I want reinforcing enough.

      I’m glad you don’t punish your dogs. It’s clear you love and appreciate their dogginess. Thanks for posting; you brought up some really important points.

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Fantastic idea! Made me swell with happiness instead of feeling sad for all the dogs whose issues are not being addressed via dogshaming. WELL DONE!

    1. Already shared on FaceBook. It is fabulous! I love how you talk about how it made you feel especially. Me too! No wonder I keep going back and looking at the pics of my dogs being good.

  9. Hi Eileen, I linked this page to a page about dog shaming on vetguru (?)
    Hope that’s ok. It’s such a great idea…love it!

    1. What a great theme: what do you consider to be your dog’s greatest gift to you? I love it that you are encouraging us to think about what we love and appreciate about our dogs. Well done, and you’ll see my entries shortly. Hope lots of others hop on the wagon.

  10. I love that last pic the mostest! 🙂 Though the others are awesome, also. Now I’m thinking what I could catch our dogs doing. Princeton, many things, really… carrying my bag down the hall is very cute. I think “line up” would be a good one for both Princeton and Lily. That’s when they have their leashes on and they go into the hall so they’re out of the way of the gate, so we can get the gate open without smashing anyone. They understand it so well that when we went on vacation, on the cue “line up” they went off to the side of the door, out of the way so it could open, but ready to go out as soon as released. We didn’t even have to show them where — they figured it out. We were so impressed! …Now I just need to get the camera out and get some actual pics.

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