Get ready for National Train Your Dog Month 2017! January is a great time to get those resolutions going, for both you and your pup. Dog training should be on that list! Fido is both champion cuddler and canine companion, but that doesn’t mean that manners aren’t also a top priority. The biggest problem navigating the training world, however, is that training practices run from one extreme to another, and advice certain trainers may give you are actually BAD for you, your pup, and your relationship. We’ve chatted with many dog training professionals from across the US to hear their scary stories and the type of advice (yes, advice actually given) that should have you running for the hills!
If you hear (or see) any of these, run the other way!
- Spit on the dog’s food to show him you’re the alpha.
- For treating garbage lovers: attack the trash can. Your dog will feel bad for it once they figure out they are the cause of your attack and leave the garbage alone.
- You’re the pack leader. Bite his ear (but don’t draw blood!)
- Throw water balloons at your puppy when your puppy is barking to scare them into stopping.
- Hit your dog on the head with a plastic water bottle when he barks at another dog in class.
- Anything that starts with “Cesar Milan did…” “alpha roll” or use of the word “dominance”. That type of “dominance theory” has been wildly debunked as a training method. There are easier (and more positive) ways to get better results!
- Tie your dogs feet together (hog tie) when he doesn’t listen and keep him that way until he calms down
- Hump your dog to embarrass it so that it stops humping other dogs.
- During class, a trainer brought her demo dog to class and told each of us not to allow our dogs to make eye contact with her dog, as he may attack them!
- A shock collar trainer says that it’s just a “tickle/tap/tingle” to “get the dog’s attention”. Because not only are they using shock collars, but they are also being dishonest and giving false information on what’s actually going on.
- A shock collar trainer tells you that your dog is yelping and crying from the training because “he’s just being a brat” or “he’s just surprised”.
- The Koehler Method (published in books by him too, and continued on in schools dedicated to his method) includes things like using your belt to whip the dog to within an inch of his life, or holding your dog’s head under water until he almost drowns as punishment.
What to ask a trainer before you work with them:
“1. What exactly will happen to my dog if he gets it right?
2. What exactly will happen to my dog if he gets it wrong?
3. Are there any less invasive alternatives to what you propose?”
Ask them specifics, and when processing the information they give you, think to yourself, could this possibly damage the relationship I have with my dog and will this make my dog feel unsafe or untrusting?
There’s hope (and quality dog training) if you think positively!
Our favorite books:
- How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
- Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog & Solve Common Behavior Problems
- Perfect Puppy in Seven Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right
Great places to look for top quality dog training:
There is the Pet Professional Guild, they require their members to be R+ (the same cannot be said of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers): http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/
Victoria Stilwell Professional Dog Trainers (and Training Blog for you at home!): https://positively.com/
Disclaimer: Every trainer is going to be different, and it is up to the pet parent to do the appropriate research to find the best fit! If you’re uncomfortable in the slightest, WALK AWAY.