Integrity in Dog Training
Ironically, I have been thinking about writing this article for a few weeks now.
I saw something similar to it recently on the internet.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of integrity in the dog training world right now.
What sells is HYPE and PROMISES of temperament change and the cure to all bad behavior.
A lot of this is a result of unrealistic dog training TV shows and celebrities. The truth is that I could video tape a problem and solution in one day too… but that doesn’t mean the behavior band-aid will stick and work for long term change.
The truth is that, that it is not possible to cure all bad behavior.
Tonight, I found myself in the home of a 175 pound dog that has aggression issues.
His family wants him to like all people, children and other dogs.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t like people, children or other dogs that he doesn’t know and he has severe blatant aggressive tendencies.
He is not fearful, he is territorial and very boldly aggressive.
And, let us just be clear; he is HUGE.
175 pound angry, dangerous dog could rapidly kill a child.
Heck, a 175 pound defensive, angry, and determined dog could do some damage and possibly kill me.
Let us not forget that every year, dogs kill people.
This dog reminded me, why it is that I charge a hefty fee when working with bite cases.
After all, I am in charge of my medical bills if I get mauled.
I Am Not the One
I am not the one to call to your house if you want empty promises about changing your dog’s personality.
I will not guarantee that after you work with me for ________ insert the amount of weeks or for _________ insert the thousands of dollars that your dog will never bite anyone again.
I won’t assure you that I can turn your dog into a Golden Retriever.
I won’t tell you that a shock collar or a prong collar applied correctly with a severe enough punishment will fix all of your problems.
Don’t I Want to Make Money?
Sure, I want to make money.
But I refuse to take people’s money at the expense of my own integrity.
I know what is possible, and what is not possible when it comes to dogs.
I also know that once I leave your house, I have literally no control of you or your dog or how well you stick to our behavior modification program.
For more details on our training program for aggression issues, click here.
So how, then, could I guarantee anything?
I can only guarantee that you will be happy with my immediate training and information.
I can’t guarantee anything beyond that, it isn’t ethical.
Once people start guaranteeing their ethics have gone out the window.
These are the trainers that then blame the owners for “creating” aggressive dogs or not sticking to the program so they then refuse to stand by their bogus “guarantee”.
I once lost a potential client because I was honest with her over the phone, while a board and train facility promised her that with the use of a shock collar they could literally fix her dog.
Of course she wanted the “fix” and wasn’t up for the work that I was describing.
However after 3 weeks back home, the dog went back to biting the children, but much more maliciously after being shocked.
The facility refused their guarantee because they could show the changes the dog had while at their facility (even though these changes didn’t hold true after). They blamed the owners.
It was at this point that she called me, in tears, because I had been the only one honest with her in the beginning.
I have worked with so many clients and dogs who have been on the losing end of this scenario and who are then sad and ashamed to seek out a different trainer.
When the truth is that honesty in the beginning, would have helped the client to have realistic expectations.
Working with aggression is not about changing the temperament or personality of the dog.
It is not about forcing the dog to love the things that he aggresses toward.
It is instead, about learning how to control that dog and teach him how to accept the things that are his triggers through obedience and control all while maintaining some control of his environment.
Yes, I recommend things like gentle leaders and muzzles and crates for dogs with aggression issues.
No, I will not sugar coat aggression for you or your family.
I will only promise you that the training will be difficult and tedious because true change always is!
It will be difficult and it will test you and your dog.
But, if you put in the work on basic, intermediate and advanced obedience and you are willing to use the tools that you need to keep your dog and society safe; you will find success.
It just may not be the success you were hopeful for in the beginning!
Personally, I would rather have a realistic dog trainer with realistic goals and knowledge and a vast amount of experience than someone who would promise me something that my heart may want, but my gut knows is simply not possible.
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.