You might have already seen this article going around the internet. It explores some recent brain research that confirms what dog owners have suspected for years … that dogs are more human than they look. While they don’t instinctively understand English, they do understand emotion.
It also discusses the important topics of animal rights and animal welfare (which are not the same thing). There are many different sides to this topic. No matter what you believe, the most important thing is that animal lovers from all sides discuss this issue conscientiously … because if we don’t, the folks who don’t care for animals at all will end up making the decisions.
As a trainer, the only thing this article really confirms for me personally is that kindness does count, and that when making decisions on which methods to use in training your dog, the ends do not justify the means.