To Reward or Punish: How the Culture Wars Came for Dogs

By Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer

Produced by Sophia Alvarez Boyd

How you train your dog was once a fairly innocuous decision — to leash or not, to reward with treats or not. The internet changed that. Now, training styles and methods can be as much about identity as efficacy: Are you imposing colonial concepts on your dog? Are you harming their mental health? Is your style of training “woke?”

In this audio essay, Alicia Wittmeyer shares her journey into the online rabbit hole of dog training and explains why dogs have become the next recruits in America’s culture wars.

(A full transcript of this audio essay will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…Illustration by Akshita Chandra/The New York Times; Photograph by Cavan Images/Getty Images

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected].

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, X (@NYTOpinion) and Instagram.

This episode of “The Opinions” was produced by Sophia Alvarez Boyd. It was edited by Kaari Pitkin and Alison Bruzek. Mixing by Carole Sabouraud. Original music by Carole Sabouraud. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta and Kristina Samulewski.

Related Articles

Back to top button