Language affects all people and all dogs

Language shapes our concept of one another and of our pets. Whether it’s how you identify them or the words you use to describe the dogs you advocate for, everything we say as animal welfare workers and advocates impacts their lives. 

“In order to better serve animals and society, we must take the lead and free ourselves from stereotypes that imply simple solutions to complex issues.”

Bernice Clifford, APDT-KA
Director of Behavior and Training
Animal Farm Foundation

Language FAQs

It’s easy to fall into the back on stereotypes to describe the dogs in your care. Even myths that we think are helping, can actually hurt our efforts. This FAQ explains why some language is more productive than others.

No Better Than flipping a coin

By: Janis Bradley and Gary Patroneck

An in-depth look at the flawed logic behind behavior evaluations and how they are not reliable predictors of a dog’s behavior.

The Language of Advocacy

Cynthia Bathurst, PhD. says that, “language reflects habit, not thought.” We must evaluate whether or our words feed into stereotypes instead of communicating science-based information.

Don’t advocate with Stereotypes

Advocate Quotes

Quotes from Animal Welfare Workers and Dog Advocates

  • “They are different from all other dogs.”
  • “They have superior physical and mental characteristics.”
  • “They require a special degree of treatment.”
  • “Some people will not be able to supply control.”

Pro-BSL Quotes

Quotes from Discriminatory Ordinances, Court Cases, & BSL Supporters

  • They “represent a unique hazard and are different in degree and kind.”
  • “Even their most ardent admirers agree that these dogs are not for everyone and require special attention and discipline.”

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