The Great Dog Training Debates–An Open Letter To Dog Trainers

Dear Dog Trainers:

Please. Just. Shut. Up.

I don’t visit dog forums any more. They’re a quagmire of the worst in human bullying behaviour. I keep getting invited to Dogster and other boards because I  Eisenmann educated dogs and it’s a dying art, sadly. I’ve been on enough dog forums now to dread them. My blood pressure is low and I’d like to keep it that way.

Here’s the standard post:

Average Dog Owner: Fido jumps on people at the door. How do I make him stop?

Sensible Dog Owner: I taught mine the “place” command. I laid down a little piece of carpet and no matter what, he’s not allowed to leave it [Alternative version] I taught mine by putting a leash on him and making him sit quietly while I greet people. Practise. Be consistent.

Immediately after this, the entire post is swarmed by professed dog trainers [and it’s the intertubz, the owners have no idea how many of them are or have been, legitimate professionals] most shilling some brand of psychobabble while they one-up each other. Buried in there somewhere might be a whit of common sense.

It goes on, sometimes for hundreds of pages. Flame wars erupt.

Poor Average Owner is overloaded with conflicting information, guilt, shame, cookies, clickers, check chains, head halters, prong collars, remote collars vs. shock collars, operant conditioning, R+ vs. 4 quadrants of conditioning, balanced vs. purely positive, corrections, marker words, aggression vs. fear biting, superstitious behaviour, possible secondary behaviours, probable outcomes, distraction, proofing, redirecting, positive rewards, negative rewards, withholding rewards, pressure, pack leadership, dominant dog theory, reactivity, co-operative pack theories, scientific surveys conducted in sterile laboratories, junk science research, unsubstantiated observational research–YOU GET THE PICTURE?

After a few pages of this nonsense Sensible Dog Owner and Average Dog Owner leave the thread.

Here’s a revolutionary concept.

Just. Shut. Up.

First off, anyone so stupid they can’t teach a dog, with whatever method, how to lay down in one place or sit beside them, which is pretty basic stuff–isn’t likely to have a dog in the first place. A ten year old can figure this out and if they can’t I’m sure they can point their parents to a few YouTube videos. Short of pounding the stuffing out of Fido which most dog owners won’t do, chances are they can teach “place” or “sit”. They just needed to make the mental leap to get from “making Fido stop” to “what could Fido do instead?” and being consistent.

Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your method, or your theory or your conflicting research studies.

They just want Fido to stop jumping on Grandma THIS WEEK and preferably TODAY. They’re not being lazy–just like everything else in life, results talk and bullshit walks.

It gets even worse if some poor owner says, “Fido bit the neighbour.”

Good thing the intertubz doesn’t depend on paper because there wouldn’t be a tree left on the planet from reams written about what to do because Fido chomped the guy next door.

Just. Shut. Up.

If you can’t write it on a post-it note, save it for dog theory discussion forums, not owners.

You know what I tell people on this one?

“This can likely be fixed. Find the closest place that trains police dogs. Call them. These trainers have vast experience with biting dogs and are familiar with the equipment to help. Meanwhile, whenever Fido is outside muzzle the dog and keep him on a leash at all times. Here’s a video link on how to fit and use a muzzle properly. If you can’t afford the rates or such a trainer’s not available let’s find you a suitable alternative.”

No matter what advice someone gives in this scenario, obvious problem is obvious.

If Fido bites again not only will Fido be homeless, so will Average Dog Owner and family from the resulting lawsuits. Never mind the fact that Fido is now a societal risk. Average Dog Owner at this point is scared. Solve the immediate problem. Alleviate the panic with something proactive and sensible they can do NOW. Average Dog Owner wants results. Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your pet theory. Average Dog Owner just wants to save Fido’s life, keep everyone safe and not lose their house.

No matter what the ensuing dog trainer howling is about–a dog trainer with experience in fixing dog biting problems needs to look with a practised eye at THIS dog and THIS owner and THIS environment before Fido becomes a public menace and is euthanized.

I’m going to let dog trainers in on a little secret. For free. For the betterment of dogs everywhere.

According to my survey which is almost 90 average city dogs at this point, the vast majority of people are NOT training their dogs to be good canine citizens.

So while you all are arguing theory online, less than 10% of owners actually train their dogs to a basic level [walk nicely on lead, come when called, don’t snarl, bark, lunge or bite at other people/dogs] –-90% of your potential customer base are doing nothing productive regardless of your methodology.

I have to wonder how many of them are paralyzed with guilt because they read so much conflicting advice and so much nonsense about “that method will mess the dog up” that they’re terrified to try anything at all.

Average Dog Owner isn’t on the intertubz forum for days on end. They’re busy being dragged down the street by their dog. Just look out your front window.

So who are you selling to? Each other? People who are addicted to dog training? Only those owners who are now in the midst of a crisis with their out-of-control dogs?

Your time might be better spent convincing those 90% of dog owners that their dogs could contribute far more to their lives, their families’ lives and the general public if they were better behaved then telling them in plain English how  you can help them accomplish that goal.

NEWS FLASH:

  • Dog owners don’t want to be talked down to, patronized or academicized.
  • Dog owners don’t care about theory.
  • Dog owners don’t care about methodology.
  • Dog owners with a problem just want a solution. They want to be heard.

Dog Owners want reasonable results, for a reasonable price, in a reasonable amount of time.

Which is reasonable.

*****
Today’s Dog Survey
Dogs Observed: 7
Dogs Walking Nicely on Lead: 3
Walks Heeling Off Lead: 0
Recall: 0
Good Companions: 0
Basic Obedience: 0

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