Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cookie Slingers?

I did a survey last night of every FB dog training related page and it's website that I like and every FB dog training related page and it's website that another trainer likes who claims he/she is a balanced trainer. In 85% of the pages, food is a major ingredient for training. The most talked about concept in 90% of those pages is engagement/relationship.

You're probably asking why I did this and the amount of time that it probably took. As for the time, remember, I'm a computer programmer, I wrote a program to do the survey that took 30 minutes to write . As for why, well, I take a lot of classes and seminars every year, I never stop learning. I also buy a lot of books and DVDs. My library includes everything from Karen Pryor to The Monks of New Skete. I have dog training books from the 1800's to present day.

A few days ago I signed up for an online class on engagement with a group of trainers that have been around a long time, trainers who have trained thousands of dogs from pets to sports champions, and have produced many books, seminars and DVDs. These trainers would be considered "balanced" I suppose.

The basic premise? You want engagement? You want your dog to look to you and basically ignore the environment? Provide motivation in the form of food, toys, fun and movement that elicits the prey drive.

This theme was prevalent on the websites in the percentages I mentioned above on the "balanced" trainers and even some not so balanced.

So why are only those who try hard to maintain positive reinforcement methods of training called treat trainers and cookie slingers?

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Resource Guarding Testimonial

One of those epic dog training learning lessons happened last night. Being a trainer, I always feel embarrassed to admit when I have issues with my own dogs. Why? Who knows. No dog is perfect and I should be proud of their many accomplishments. 

Roo (far right in photo) has begun resource guarding and last week got into a fight with Ava (far left of photo) because Ava walked past her bowl while Roo was eating. Ava and Roo are litter mates and really go for the gold when they tussle, similar to human siblings. There was blood and limping for a few days after. 

When Roo eats she takes her sweet time crunching every morsel. Lucky and Ava are gobblers. This is a recipe for disaster. Roo is always the last eating. I had always separated their bowls during meal time because Roo would always bear teeth at the other two dogs. But Roo's guarding has gotten progressively worse over time. Guarding toys, spaces, and people. 

Last night I talked to my mentor, Jamie, about the escalating problem. I also signed up for an eight week class with Roo. Jamie said that I created the guarding by always having Ava and Roo's bowls at a 10' distance, and Lucky inside altogether. She said I should have their bowls directly next to each other. The thought of this spiked my anxiety. I asked her how to accomplish this, when if Ava just looks at Roo when close to the bowl, Roo goes for the throat and Ava doesn't turn down a fight. Jamie took the time to explain the process in detail, and fed her pack and a new puppy that is with her for board-and-train right then, to teach me the proper way. 

Well, 6:30 this morning, I was scared. My husband asks, "Are you prepared, in case there is a fight?" I was. But I kept positive, determined that there was not going to be one (even though my mind was racing expecting it). I know that my body language has to tell my pack a different story. I had Roo on a leash just in case. 

Jamie recommended Ava and Lucky "down, stay" after they eat and wait for Roo to finish. I thought it would be way easier just to let them gobble and wander off. Sigh. 

The photo is of me, so excited and proud. 10 minutes in, I realized we were in the clear! Everything went just as Jamie said it would (if I followed instruction exactly). WOW! Another huge round of applause to Jamie. I know that many other trainers would have recommended shocking the dogs to get them to stop. This is another testament to her unorthodox methods of training. That are not hard on the dog. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Questions. Does Anyone have Answers?

For what reason would one trainer go out of his way to trash another trainer?  Is that trainers business so bad that he has to make himself look great at the expense of another trainer?  Is that trainer so ashamed of the methods he uses deep down that he has to make all other methods look ineffective?

I admit, I haven't been able to help every single dog that has come my way.  I admit that I'm human and make mistakes.  And I publicly apologize to the very few dogs that I couldn't help whether it was because I couldn't get near the dog or because it was taking longer then the owner was willing to wait.

But I don't publicly publish private emails from a trainer to a client or tell lies about the vets that are supposedly recommending me to clients.  I realize this trainer has barely over 100 likes on his FB page, it's more about the hurt that was attempted because of one of the very few dogs I hadn't managed to help.

Why would someone thinks it's ok to do this to me?  This isn't the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last I'm sure.  It seems to be something that control freaks and sadists need to do to make themselves feel less guilty. It seems to be something they do to elevate themselves over others by trying to make others look lesser.

It makes me wonder if that's the same reasons that they do the things to dogs that they do, to make themselves feel less guilty, less like failures and more like macho men (or women since it was a woman the last time this happened). 

What they don't realize is that this kind of treatment actually makes me feel good.  That I am the target of campaigns like this means that I am making a difference, that I am effective and the dogs I help are known about. 

Every time I read the CL ads from this trainer I laugh.  He says all is bad over here, that the methods don't work, that the statistics are wrong, that fear about the misbehavior of dogs is what people should have and to come to him to not be afraid. 

But he never actually tells people what he is going to be doing to their dog or what he is going to require that they do to their dog.  His latest is that he doesn't do board and train anymore because the dog will only listen to him at the end and not the owner.  Is his training so bad that the dog can't generalize?

This reminds me of a statement he made awhile back that might still be in some of his advertising.  He said that group classes don't work because the dogs are all more interested in the other dogs and can't learn anything.  Funny about that, real life has other dogs, other people, squirrels, cats, lizards and so very many other distractions in it.  If you train in a vacuum, the training will never hold.  So how does he ensure that his training holds?  What methods does he use to keep a dog from wanting to chase a cat?  Is he willing to lay it all out? Full disclosure?

I hide nothing.  Everyone who reads my website, follows my blog or my Facebook page, knows exactly how I train, and how I don't.  More then needing regulations and laws about getting certifications, I think there should be laws about full disclosure and false advertising instead.