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From a press release from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Babs Chandrasoma

"Marley and Me" A Heartwarming Film But Not A Guide For Dog Owners
GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND (December 26th, 2008)- "Marley and Me", a film based on John Grogan's life with his loveable but unruly Labrador Retriever, is a wonderful example of the depth of the human-animal bond. However, much of Marley's "bad" behavior was unknowingly created by his well meaning but poorly prepared owners and some of it was an anxiety disorder called storm phobia.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) makes the following recommendations.

Puppies require a great deal of time, attention, and training. Prospective owners should be well educated and prepared to begin teaching good manners from the minute they get the puppy. Waiting until the puppy is so large that he is uncontrollable will make the process much more difficult.

Owners should enroll puppies in puppy classes as soon as possible. This is important for the owner's education and for socialization of the puppy. This should be arranged before the puppy comes home.

Unruly behaviors such as jumping, pulling on the leash, and chewing household items can be prevented in the adult dog by teaching and rewarding mannerly and appropriate behavior in growing puppies.

At no point was "Marley"� trying to be the "alpha male of the pack", as claimed by the film's dog trainer. Training does not require "dominance"� and harsh corrections. Being a good leader by training and reinforcing desired behavior using positive reinforcement is the safest and most effective way to train puppies. For example, kneeing Marley in the chest to stop jumping up was potentially dangerous, completely ineffective, and unnecessary. Simply teaching him from puppyhood to sit for petting would have eliminated that problem.

Many dogs suffer from behavior problems that are unrelated to traditional training. For example, destruction and vocalization during storms often occurs because of the well-recognized condition of storm phobia. This condition is very treatable by veterinarians with a special interest or certification in animal behavior. "Most veterinarians and veterinary behaviorists see this problem very commonly. Treatment at an early age can alleviate stress experienced by the family and improves the quality of life for the dog itself,"� said Dr. John Ciribassi, Immediate Past President of AVSAB and owner of the Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants.

Viewers should resist the temptation to adopt a puppy or dog based on a movie. What is on the screen is entertainment, not reality, even if it based on a true story. Shelters were filled with Dalmatians purchased after people saw the Disney film "101 Dalmatians" several years ago. Once the adorable little puppies grew up into rambunctious and destructive young adults, many owners simply dumped them.

"Having a dog in your life can be a tremendously satisfying and enriching,"msaid Dr. E. Kathryn Meyer, AVSAB President and owner of Veterinary Behavior Clinic in Gaithersburg, MD. "However, there is a significant level of commitment required and it is a decision that should not be made lightly."� AVSAB has published position papers on Puppy Socialization, Choosing a Trainer, The Use of Punishment, and Dominance Theory in the Behavior Modification of Animals. These documents are available at AVSABonline.org.[/b]
 

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I refuse to see this movie because I resent the fact that this guy made so much money off of raising an untrained dog. I'm a little bitter too, because I didn't cash in on the public's love of horribly behaved dogs. I could have been a multi-billionaire!

That being said, labs really can be especially horrible in a goofy way. On Christmas day, I filled my car with wrapped presents, laying each one out so that none of the bows got squished, and food I was taking to Christmas at my parents' house. About three miles from my house I come around a corner and almost hit a Jack Russell terrier and a lab standing in the middle of the road. I live in an area full of horse farms, so it's not unusual to see dogs out roaming, but since it was Christmas, and since I always feel guilty if I don't stop, I pulled off the road to try to find their home. I get out of my car and call the dogs over to me, and they happily come to me. Then I open my car door to get my cell phone out to call the number on their collars, and both muddy dogs, including the gigantic (read: fat) lab leap into my front seat and vaulted into the back seat (where some of the presents and the food was), and the Jack Russell continued on to the wayback, where more presents were. I was finally able to get the lab out of the car, but the Jack Russell refused to get out. So the lab keeps jumping up at the window of my car to get at the Jack Russell. My car is covered in gigantic muddy paw prints. I'm afraid to wash the car because I'm afraid to see how much paint the dog's nails took off. He was very sweet, but he just about destroyed my car, inside and out. When the woman came to get him, I could tell she thought it was unnecessary for me to have called her. Whatever. I've had my dogs saved by complete strangers before, and I will always try to pay that forward, even if the owners don't care.
 

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I don't want to see the movie either. I really don't find mischevious< unruly dogs to be "cute". Its a blatant form of disrespect for their owners and a lot of times when that behavior is enabled, it ends of costing you hundreds and thousands of dollars if your pet bites or seriously injures someone.

There is a very HUGE difference between smart and unruly. I wish people knew where to draw the line. My favorite dog movie was "Snow Dogs". Now Demon in that movie was a bit difficult, but in the end he still respected Cuba Gooding's character. It really showed how a person could grow to love dogs with patience and if they both give each other a chance. Now that was a healthy movie but Marley and Me is a bit over-the-top to say the least.
 
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