Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Interesting post from Nicole Wilde this morning called The Benefit Of The Doubt which explores whether a dog is blowing of his handler or there is some other reason for inattention or wandering away.

Then I see a post from someone about cruelty to humans and animals (pictured to the left).  This person and many others like her, people who consistently post about animal cruelty and how people who hurt animals are horrible.  And yet. They ALL support a trainer who uses shock collars, pinch collars, kicking dogs, hanging them by their collars and other things that if you didn't know this person was a trainer, you would be sick to your stomach. 


In Virginia, a puppy was choked to death by a dog trainer using a prong collar and his fingers in the puppy’s throat. The reason? The trainer was disciplining the puppy for biting at the other puppies in class.

In Illinois a few years ago, a dog was blinded in class due to lack of oxygen to the brain. How? She was lifted off the ground and swung around by a leash and choke chain for supposedly growling at the trainer.

In some obedience classes in Colorado, dogs are hung, hit, and have objects thrown at them, all in the name of training. Unfortunately, these and other acts of cruelty are not uncommon occurrences in obedience classes across the country.

Historically, the methods used to train dogs, and horses, have relied on physical force. In fact, a profile of a well-known trainer of field dogs, credits the trainer with developing “applications of electricity”(i.e. shock collars) which “made it possible for people who lacked the physical strength required to dominate these dogs” to still be able to train them.

The use of poor and risky dog training practices is a behavior I would like to see disappear.  But I also realize that it's not going to disappear by attacking it. Dog owners I meet are generally reluctant to use the harsh methods, but feel as if they have no alternative. Or, they live in fear of what will happen if those methods are not used.  Most people I meet find that the use of the harsh techniques are objectionable, but when faced with a dog they cannot control "RIGHT NOW" they look for the magic wand - which in the dog training world is touted as corrections and shock.

The only way that I can see to eliminate these methods of training and behavior modification is to educate the public on the actual choices they have to help their dog.  The actual fallout from harsh methods and from purely positive methods.  Without that knowledge, and a change in attitude about magic wands - harsh methods and the trainers who use them, will continue to haunt the training world.

I have to tell you that we stopped yelling at our dog and started praising and not punishing and the results are amazing! He is teaching us to be better humans! He is much nicer to have around - or maybe we all got nicer! – Maggie

Force training has been around for a long time, but thankfully, fewer and fewer trainers use these methods any more. In the old days, we used our brawn to train dogs (Yes - myself included! Back then that was all we knew). Now, based on scientific knowledge of how dogs learn, observation and use of how dogs communicate, newer trainers use their heads and their hearts. There are methods to train dogs that enhance dogs and create in the dog a need and a joy in learning. The old-style abusive methods diminish dogs, forever.
These trainers need to change or be put out of business. Unfortunately, though, too many pet owners do little or no research when choosing a trainer and these dinosaurs have flourishing businesses. Don’t get me wrong: their methods are effective. For example, to get a dog to stop pulling on a leash, just jerk the crap out of the dog with a pinch collar on its neck and it will stop pulling.
Likewise, shock me with a taser, beat me up, yell and scream at me and I will give you all my money, but I will forever more be afraid of you. The pain and trauma you inflict on me will damage me forever and not even a millenium can re-create the trust we might have had and we can never be friends.

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