The Difference Between Good Dog Trainers and Bad Dog Trainers
Happy Dogs Look Happy
I can tell if someone is a good dog trainer or a bad dog trainer simply by looking at the dogs that they train!
You might think this is a gift or a skill that has been honed after the over 20 years experience that I have with dog training, but the truth is it is pretty obvious.
Dogs that are trained by a good/fair dog trainer are happy.
Dogs that are trained by a bad/unfair dog trainer may be one or the other happy, because they don’t have training or trained.
The dogs who are “trained” will seem like they have lost their spark. Their tails will be down, their ears may be tucked and there will be no happy spring in their step.
The truth is that they are just cautiously waiting and praying not to make a mistake because they are fearful of the “correction” that will ensue.
There is a video that has gone viral of a guy with about 5 German Shepherd Dogs heeling with him around the city, doing various down stays etc.
And, while their obedience is good, their demeanor is sad. They don’t look happy. At one point a lady speaks to one and he turns his head like he is about to get a shock correction.
I feel bad for them.
A Friend of Mine
A friend of mine called me the other day.
He has a happy dog, but let’s just say the dog “lacks” a little in the training department.
The dog or I suppose I should say puppy is about 6 months old and he is known to steal objects and run around not listening.
He is certainly a happy puppy but he is also certainly not well trained. And, his behaviors are not only life threatening (the chances of him grabbing something deadly while running off leash and not listening are exceptionally high) they are also disturbing to the people he visits and occasionally himself.
Frankly the dog needs a little more structure and obedience and a little less freedom and play, at least until these problems are conquered. If he kept him on a leash for a week or two in the house he could teach him what is and is not appropriate and teach him where to potty.
What he doesn’t need is a “beating” or worse…
Worse than a beating?
He called me because he is visiting (living with for a few months) a friend, and his friend also has a puppy.
The friend’s puppy is about a month younger, so let’s say about 5 months old. And they are currently taking their puppy to a trainer in their area.
And, of course his friend is disturbed by his puppy’s behavior so he recommended the trainer he has been using.
The problem is, that during the first session with the 5 month old puppy, the trainer choked the puppy out.
I am going to wait for most of you to read that last sentence again, since I know at first you think you didn’t read it right.
The puppy about 20 weeks old snarled at the trainer when the trainer went to force the puppy into a down position.
There are a lot of puppies who either don’t like, or are scared of being forced into doing something.
Fight or flight kicks in and some puppies choose “FIGHT” and displace signs of aggression even though the feeling might be one of fear.
Apparently this trainer didn’t care, because he snatched the puppy up by his collar and choked him until he stopped fighting, which was essentially when he passed out from lack of air.
Yes, I Am Horrified
Yes, I am horrified. I can’t believe trainers like this still exist, much less that an adult man could cause this kind of emotional and physical trauma on an adult, much less a PUPPY!
The other problem is that his friend still thinks this dog trainer is a good trainer.
I foresee lots of abuse in this dog’s near future misrepresented as “training”, and once this puppy’s spirit is completely broken, it will be difficult if not impossible to fix him and teach him to trust.
This is the kind of dog that cowers when given a command. These dogs often keep their tails tucked and avert eye contact. They know if they don’t perform to the expectations of owner or trainer they will be physically forced and abused.
Sometimes these dogs look well trained and well behaved to the untrained eye, and perhaps in essence they are, but they are NOT happy.
My dogs are happy!
They prance with their tails held high, their eyes affixed on me and my every movement, and joy in their step.
I can whisper a command I don’t have to shout it!
This is because I use positive reinforcement and PLAY to teach them. If they make a mistake it isn’t earth shattering. No one is going to be beaten, much less hung if they don’t listen.
I ask myself, “What am I doing wrong” when my dog does not comply! Because the truth is with good and effective communication my dog will want to listen!
I remember the first Protection Title I put on my dog.
We were new to competition and I still really don’t like competition much but she did great; head held high tail wagging.
A short time after we found out about our results (she was top) I was approached by an older lady who was volunteering to raise funds so that police dogs could get bullet proof vests.
Her first question to me was, “Was I new to this?” and “You train positively don’t you?”
Both of course were “yes” and she described how all the other dogs looked like they were scared to comply or didn’t comply at all and even the ones who did hung their heads and tails. She was impressed my dog’s tail was up the whole time.
That is probably the nicest compliment I can get, because it shows me through the eyes of someone else, how my dog sees me! That is the true testament of greatness.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.