The PETA Founder - I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA

I just finished watching the documentary about Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA. I really did not know much about her or her organization before this except for the various news stories that crop up here and there in the media. I have seen a few documentaries about animal rights and about 4 years ago Peaceable Kingdom: A Tribe of Heart Documentary was the final push I needed to become a vegetarian.

 I was on my way, but the poignant video about how animals are treated in animal processing plants was horrifying. The film contained a lot of secret footage showing how animals are treated as they are processed for food. All of the documentaries that I have seen have taught me something and made me think.

So, what did I think of "I Am An Animal"? I disagree with some of PETA's tactics, and I don't agree with ever breaking the law to prove a point. But, I have a lot of respect for Ingrid Newkirk and her passion. It showed some of the history of the organization, her dedication to living simply, as well as some of the demonstrations and strategy sessions. I always love to see how ideas get formulated and put out there for the world to see.

One aspect of the movie is that it made me think about my use of animal meat as treats and food for my dogs. I struggle with some of my day-to-day discrepancies. I am a vegetarian, but I feed my dogs the raw diet and have a freezer full of cut up chicken. I only buy free-range, antibiotic free chicken, but still it bothers me. I use and recommend a variety of meat treats for my dogs and my client's dogs. I know there are vegetarian diets for dogs, but the fact that they are so different from us makes it difficult for me to force a vegetarian diet on them if there is a chance that they need more than what that diet offers.

I am not fundamentally opposed to animals (including humans) eating other animals, but I think we can all be more responsible about how we raise and consume meat. I still get blank looks when I tell people that I don't eat meat. "What do you eat?" is the common question. There is a huge misconception that vegetarians only eat salads. People can get protein from a variety of foods including nuts and tofu, without eating meat.

The movie also gave me hope that some day all animals will be treated better. I spend a great deal of my waking hours working to understand dogs and helping others do the same. Most people feel a strong love and devotion to dogs and animals of all kinds, but there are those that think that animals don't deserve the respect and care that responsible guardians provide. I want to make sure that you know that it is okay to treat your dogs as members of the family. It is okay to allow them to sleep on your bed if you want, it is okay that you spend a lot of money to buy them a comfortable bed to sleep on, or to keep them healthy by taking them to the vet, it is okay that you buy them premium dog food to give them the best diet possible.

The movie also made me think about different styles of training. I only use positive reinforcement training, but there are still huge numbers of people that use the "jerk and pull" or "traditional" training methods. I see it as my responsibility, as someone that has trained over 2000 dogs, to make sure people know about positive reinforcement training. I want to make sure that people realize that you can use positive reinforcement training and have a well behaved dog.



A lot of people think that dog training consists of "Being tough" or "Being the alpha". Countless times I have heard clients say that their dog isn't well trained because "they are too soft" to use discipline. You don't need to be mean, tough, yell or use metal collars or shock collars to train a dog.
That is my goal in life is to get that last point across to everyone. Let me say it again: You don't need to be mean, tough, yell or use metal collars or shock collars to train a dog. If your dog isn't well-trained, it isn't because you weren't tough enough and weren't the "alpha". It means that you need to learn more about training a dog! I interchange training and teaching when I talk about working with a dog. If done correctly, that is what you should be doing.

What can you do to make the lives of animals better? You can treat your animals with the profound respect they deserve, you can get rid of the choke, prong or shock collar that you are using and tell your friends to do the same. You can make sure your dogs are getting the best positive reinforcement training that you can find. If your dog is an outcast because he isn't well trained, train him. Spend the time to teach him not to jump, teach him not to bark, work with him, not against him.

Latest Blog Posts

How to safely take your dog to a dog park

With summer weather finally here in Chicago, it is time to start thinking about more frequent trips to the dog park. You might feel uneasy when your dog plays with other dogs. Hopefully this...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-20 15:42:00
  • Hits 16593

How long should dog training sessions last?

Did you know it is better to practice short training sessions and stop when your dog still wants more? This strategy will keep training interesting and you will avoid over training.
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-06 19:36:00
  • Hits 28689

Positive reinforcement dog training strategies

Did you know that there are different styles of training within the positive reinforcement "camp"? There are trainers that only use one style and others (like myself) use many different strategies...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-09 12:48:00
  • Hits 26604

Your dog is acting weird? It might be a physical problem

I received two calls this week that that reminded me about the importance of making sure a dog is physically healthy before I recommend training strategies. One call was in regards to a 3-year old...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-15 04:06:15
  • Hits 27451

The PETA Founder - I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA

I just finished watching the documentary about Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA. I really did not know much about her or her organization before this except for the various news stories that...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-17 14:21:00
  • Hits 56907

Your dog is stubborn? Here are some tips.

Stubborn is used frequently to describe dogs that don't perform a task that is asked of them. Maybe the dog is pulling on his leash, maybe he doesn't lie down when cued, or maybe he lies down when...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-28 12:57:00
  • Hits 27762

How old should a dog be before he can be out of the crate?

Wouldn't it be great if you could just sit a dog down and say, "Welcome to the house. Let's have an arrangement. I will walk you, play with you, feed you good food and give you medical care. The...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-30 15:04:00
  • Hits 29121

Should you use alpha rolls? No.

When I am working with my clients, I focus on determining what strategies are most effective with each individual dog. I have found certain techniques to be extremely effective and I also see...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-27 03:34:01
  • Hits 23552

Do you say, "No!" to your dog alot?

"No" (which means don't jump on the guests)."No" (which means don't chew on the couch)."No" (which means stop barking)Sound familiar?
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-03 19:10:49
  • Hits 17950

Common dog training questions

I frequently hear very similar questions from multiple clients. I also have random dog training thoughts that come to mind that might not lend themselves to a complete blog post. So, I thought I...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-25 14:15:00
  • Hits 39838