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Oh yes, it's frightening. I have a reactive dog, so I've got plenty of stories of my own!

When I first started out and realized Chisum would need medication, I contacted a local "vet behaviorist" who came to my house. She had nasty things to say about my two non-reactive dogs, but the stuff she had to say about my reactive boy was really fun. Her plan of action was to tie him in a corner of the living room and just let him bark, cry, and defecate on himself because "he'll settle down eventually, and then we can reward" as if a treat after that panic attack would do anything. I knew better, I knew she was wrong. But how many people hired her who didn't?

I also signed up for a group basic obedience class with my non-reactive girl. This was like the most basic obedience, we were taking it because the center also offered agility and nosework and I wanted to dapple in both. This class was packed - at least 30 dogs/handlers. Some dogs were reactive and the only management was to jerk on prong collars. The first exercise they had us do was walk in a circle while music played, and when the music stop we stopped and had our dogs sit and offer eye contact. The problem was that they wanted sits and eye contact for 45 + seconds without a break, for dogs that had literally never been taught these behaviors. So I worked through with Sophie, just building up, and one of the trainers came by and told me that if she broke her sit or her eye contact I needed to do a collar correction or pop her rear end so she learned. We left immediately.

There are people that absolutely praise this training center too - and maybe they've changed - but yikes.

I've had more, um, "interesting" experiences that I have been unhappy with and could definitely vent more, but those were by far the most YIKES experiences I have had.
 

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That is NOT how it's done.

That is a great set up for the dog to fail and make things worse.

This is most assuredly a misapplication of people (the "stranger") (good way to get someone bit!) and of equipment (the e collar which is a tool I use as you know) and I would never use compressed air.

I have been helping some people local to me with their dogs. Some of what I hear them tell me about established dog trainers who make their living training dogs is mind boggling. I hear the same stories about the same trainers...

....meanwhile I am over here helping dogs, getting results training the owners and not charging anything.

So far every dog I have worked with has been put back on a flat collar (most were on prongs that were being used incorrectly) and a 6 foot lead. These are pets that just need basic obedience.
 

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When I got Gibbs in May, the breeder's contract required he do a puppy kindergarten course, which I've done with all my puppies anyway. The place I took my last couple of dogs to is closed now, so I signed him up for a puppy kindergarten course at the most respected training center in the area. I've been to them before, even for their KPT course, but it had been over 10 years.

To my surprise, they are still teaching the exact same things they did those years ago. They do use treats and praise, but they still spend half the class lecturing on being alpha: put your puppy upside down between your legs and hold them there until they stop struggling to teach them you're dominant, etc.

In truth I didn't think Gibbs got much out of it. I sure didn't, but we attended and got the certificate.

Then one day a few weeks later I was in PetsMart and an employee helped me out by holding Gibbs while I did something I can't even remember. We ended up chatting, and I found out she is their in house trainer. She said a few things that actually sounded dog wise, and what the heck, I signed up for their puppy course. All clicker, and to my surprise superior in every way to the place with the great reputation. No lectures about alpha anything. We got shown techniques and got to do them the whole time. Gibbs learned things. I learned things.

It's a really hard thing because people who go to trainers do it because they need or want help, which means many of them don't know enough to judge what they're being told by the "expert." You see it in other fields -- people hire others for their expertise because the one hiring doesn't know enough about the expert's field. Then after the job is done, the one who did the hiring also doesn't know enough to judge how good a job the expert did.

In dogs? Do the people who turn their dog into a snarling mess blame the lousy advice, or do they blame the dog? Probably some of each.
 

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I hear you. I am amazed at how backwards so many professional trainers are. I suspect part is that using aversive techniques is often a "quicker" result and time is money.

I recently saw this meme from The Canine Principles:
Rectangle Font Aqua Circle Terrestrial plant


I found it rather egotistical and that it completely ignores how many "dog professionals" still use techniques based on domination and fear. It's this ego trip that creates so many of these problems.

I believe that egos must be checked at the door when handling animals. Egos just get in the way of listening to the dog, who knows best how to handle himself.

I also take exception that their dogs are "more complex". All dogs are complex. Their lives may be limited or expansive, but the dog itself is never simple.

Dog #1 - Have a stranger suddenly walk into your home. Have the dog's shock collar set high. Be ready to correct the dog the moment it shows aggressive behavior. (The trainer also emphasized that this shock is not "punishment", but rather "communication")
This is common with trainers who use aversive methods - they attempt to use positive training verbiage to obscure their techniques. Shocking a dog is NOT communication. It IS correction/punishment.
 
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What a terrible situation, but I'm glad these owners found you.

It is so very unfortunate that people looking for advice from an "expert" end up in situations like these. It's simply a "you don't know what you don't know" scenario, and the people who you thought should know and hired for help are wrong!
 

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I also take exception that their dogs are "more complex". All dogs are complex. Their lives may be limited or expansive, but the dog itself is never simple.
I admittedly spend time on TikTok and I see this a TON. Just this morning there was a post about training recall using force free methods, and of course there was a commenter that said "well, if they had an APBT they would know it doesn't work". Because APBTs have high prey drive and are prone to animal aggression/reactivity. The funny thing was, someone asked that poster about bully breed mixes, because there are several on that app who have successfully been trained to a high level of recall with force free methods. Nope. Bully breeds "don't count" nor do other dog breeds, because apparently NO OTHER breed or mix can be aggressive or have high levels of prey drive.

You see it a lot with Mal owners. Like a person will be showing how they work through reactivity or even just basic obedience with force free methods and without fail, there is someone commenting "well, try that with a Mal and you won't get very far!" mixed right in with the "force free don't work for every dog, some of them need balanced training!" comments.

I'm not trashing on balanced training, but I do think a lot of people utilize aversive tools as a personality trait and not because they are truly needed AND you're right, there is so much ego involved with having a hard dog or a certain breed of dog. It just leads to moving goal posts and trash talking, etc etc. Dog people can be nasty. Case in point, the first trainer I mentioned who had the absolute nastiest things to say about my non-reactive, well-behaved dogs.
 

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Then one day a few weeks later I was in PetsMart and an employee helped me out by holding Gibbs while I did something I can't even remember. We ended up chatting, and I found out she is their in house trainer. She said a few things that actually sounded dog wise, and what the heck, I signed up for their puppy course. All clicker, and to my surprise superior in every way to the place with the great reputation. No lectures about alpha anything. We got shown techniques and got to do them the whole time. Gibbs learned things. I learned things.
I actually have found that places like Petsmart and Petco are more up to date on training methods. I would hazard the guess that it's because they rotate through trainers and those trainers are often young with no history in outdated techniques and self exploration in training techniques - and that is more likely to lean towards the "latest and greatest" of training techniques.

In contrast, professional trainers with their own classes usually have years of training background but very little recent exploration in new techniques. They often have an ego due to their background that causes them to fight against new concepts and methods.
 
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"force free don't work for every dog, some of them need balanced training!" comments.
I always thought of my own training as balanced in that I will use things like a collar correction and have used a prong collar in the past. However, I joined a forum labeled "Balanced Training," and was appalled to find a high percentage of the threads discussed e-collars, another good percentage discussed prongs, and if there was much discussion of anything on the other side of "balance," I didn't see it. So I'm never using the term again.
I actually have found that places like Petsmart and Petco are more up to date on training methods. I would hazard the guess that it's because they rotate through trainers and those trainers are often young with no history in outdated techniques and self exploration in training techniques - and that is more likely to lean towards the "latest and greatest" of training techniques.

In contrast, professional trainers with their own classes usually have years of training background but very little recent exploration in new techniques. They often have an ego due to their background that causes them to fight against new concepts and methods.
That's the reasoning I came to also. I'm an old broad myself, and it's hard to give up what you know works for something that only gets you to the same place via a different path -- even when you've decided the different path is better.
 

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I always thought of my own training as balanced in that I will use things like a collar correction and have used a prong collar in the past. However, I joined a forum labeled "Balanced Training," and was appalled to find a high percentage of the threads discussed e-collars, another good percentage discussed prongs, and if there was much discussion of anything on the other side of "balance," I didn't see it. So I'm never using the term again.
Yep. It's that attempt to disguise the use of outdated punishment based training.

Another I see a lot is "we use the right tool for the right dog". Sounds like they think of the dog as an individual, but they most always have a prong collar on their own dog and will recommend one for any dog that is excitable.

When I was a kid (70s) and taking my dog through obedience courses and competitions, we did use leash corrections with a choke chain. But the only time a prong collar was recommended was at the very beginning with a large powerful dog who ignored (or didn't notice) the leash correction. In that case, they put the prong collar on the dog and had the dog heel. They made a couple leash corrections with the prong collar. The dog quickly took notice of the leash correction. Then the prong collar was removed and the choke chain put back on. The dog started "listening" to the leash corrections and the prong collar was no longer used. And doing alpha rolls, etc, were never even in our vocabulary.

I was surprised that when we took the dogs to a basic obedience class, the trainer was having everyone try to alpha roll their dogs. Aunt C and I just sat on the grass away from the group and I told her that doing that, especially in a group of strange dogs and people was irresponsible. Fortunately, none of the students bothered to actually try to alpha roll their dog - they just gave up when the dog wouldn't lay down.
 

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A lot of times the "You can't do -insert whatever here- using positive based methods" will become "Well, you can't do it with -XYZ type- of dog", which becomes, "Well, it's still so unusual that nobody else -could/would want to- do it", and so on and so forth.
 
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It still pains me that with previous dogs (OK, it was over 30 years ago, but...) we took them to local training classes & the very first thing that was done was to fit both the girls with prong collars. It wasn't until MANY years later that I decided to do some 'alternative' reading & became what was essentially a 'cross-over' trainer. But, it was my own desire to broaden my dog training/handling knowledge that brought me to the 'NO pain' methodology. If I hadn't sought out alternative methods, my current crew would still be fitted with prong or e-collars. All I can do now is to gently educate owners on different methods & hope that I can make a difference in the life of a few individual dogs. But what I have absolutely learned from making this transition in my dog training world is that you absolutely can achieve the same - NO, actually better! results with positive methods than you can with old-school techniques.
 

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A lot of times the "You can't do -insert whatever here- using positive based methods" will become "Well, you can't do it with -XYZ type- of dog", which becomes, "Well, it's still so unusual that nobody else -could/would want to- do it", and so on and so forth.
The problem isn't the tool. The problem is "one size fits all" training such that the same tool is used on every dog.

What Canyx describes is one size fits all let's ",git 'er done an' git paid" dog training while risking people being badly bitten, perhaps a child at some future date.

The e collar on the one dog could just as easily cause the dog to bite as to run off! That use was neither punishment nor communication. The former requires the dog to understand clearly what was asked (a stranger walking into the house where the dog is back tied and stimmimg the dog is not asking the dog to do something and then having the dog knowingly elect to blow it off and earning a correction). The latter (communication) is also not happening as learning does not take place when a dog is surprised by an correction it does not understand.

I have no words for the compressed air. Perhaps it is a Ceasar hiss without having to make that sound and poke the dog. I am confused... (Imagine how the dog feels!).

Just because I have a tool in my tool box does not mean I need to use that tool on every dog or every situation. Just because I have a tool does not mean I have permission to use it in an unclear, inappropriate, improper or cruel manner.

It matters not the tool... Any tool can be turned into a device of cruelty.
 
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