Irene Jarnved is from the "positive reinforcement school", her methods seem refreshing compared to the average "old school" Danish dog trainer/behaviorist. And therefore it actually hurts me I have to write this. Unfortunately, the comparison with Victoria Stilwell stops at the title of her TV show. Her opinions reveal a lack of basic knowledge about dogs and dog behavior and she is misleading more than she is educating.
Irene Jarnved disappointed the first time one year ago in a TV debate. The debate was about dangerous dogs and if BSL should be implemented in Denmark. Irene talked about "fighting dog breeds" and "muscle dog breeds" - whatever the last might be - making a point that these dogs, at least foreign ones, are bred to fight. Although she is probably correct that some individual dogs have been imported that were bred with fighting in mind, that doesn't make a breed out of them. "Fighting dog" is not a collection of breeds. Fact. Period.
Her official statement is that she is against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Maybe Irene hired the same PR person as Jørgen Hindse from the Danish Kennel Club, and finds it difficult to align her public statements in interviews with what is written on her own website. Summarizing individual dogs bred for fighting and proclaiming them as whole breeds of "fighting dogs" helps to feed the prejudice, it is simply discriminatory, and nothing else. To the dogs, but also to the people that have these breeds.
A couple of days ago, a dog from the observation list - 12 breeds that are in danger to be the next to be banned - made the news after it killed a small dog. I would not have made the news last year, but of course the media is now all over the breeds on the observation list, fueling mass hysteria once again.
The small dog was on the leash of a two-year old child, and went around the corner, where a dog was tied down while his owner was in a mall. What happened in their meeting we do not know other than the horrible and fatal outcome for the poor small dog, but what is wrong in this picture is two things. It shows again it is not a good idea to leave your dog unattended while you visit a shopping center, and it is not a good idea to send your two-year old ahead with your dog. Two dog parents, how sad the consequences may be, that could have done better.
Irene Jarnved commented on this case in the most shameful way. Neglecting the issue of ownership, responsibility, and how to prevent dog bites - she started ranting about dangerous dogs and how to prevent being bitten by them. One of the advices she gave was to "pick up your dog if it was a small enough if a possible dangerous dog was approaching". On top of that, would a fight start, "it is best with a fighting dog to grab it by its collar and turn it around and around until it almost can not breath anymore".
This is absolutely fabulous, so now all people with small dogs pick them up, thereby imprinting their dogs to fear other dogs, and everybody that tries to break up a dog fight will be bitten. You just don't break up a dog fight by grabbing the collar, it is what you should absolutely not do. Did you noticed she mentioned "fighting dogs" again, btw?
Also remarkable in this debate is Irene Jarnved's ignorance of the effects of BSL. The owner of the killed dog expressed her discomfort "I really don't dare to have another dog with all those big dogs running around". My heart goes out to her and it is a very understandable response.
But this is a known effect of BSL, it doesn't help people to feel safer. You cannot ban your way into feeling safe. Irene missed also this opportunity to educate on BSL. Instead her comment on dogs and sizes was "It is never smart to place a dog around the corner, as that makes it hard to avoid an attack if you pass by with a smaller dog". Does that mean if I leave my dog unattended a couple of feet further will help?
What for me is the most disappointing is that Irene Jarnved doesn't use her fame to at least be an advocate in favor of responsible ownership and even better, speak out against laws that discriminate on breed. In that area she still has a lot to learn from Victoria Stilwell, using her fame and good name to influence positively, speaking out against BSL and it's injustice and horror. Like Victoria's article "Why BSL doesn't work", or her speaches about BSL at seminars.
Welcome to the Breed ban "Wall of Shame", Irene Jarnved.
- Welcome to the "Wall of Shame": Marlene Harpsøe
- Welcome to the "Wall of Shame": Jørgen Hindse
- "Facts" is not a store you can shop in
- The face of a breed ban: make your voice heard
- Dog bite incidents increase: BSL has no effect
- Open letter about BSL was answered ... was it?
- Danish breed ban rests on historically thin basis
- A week of discussing breed bans without facts
- Open letter to Merete Eldrup
- How BSL can bring a whole country into madness
- BSL up close and personal