Here is a letter I received from another professional dog trainer reads:
Hi Adam, I’m Jim Haines. My partner Brenda and I graduated from Tom’s [Tom Rose’s School For Professional Dog Trainers, in St. Louis, Missouri] 20 week program, four years ago. We have trained just over 1000 dogs/owners (the vast majority being in-kennel training & privates one-on-one).
I love your internet chat room and plan to throw my hat in the ring. We deal with the same pinch collar issues from the well meaning psuedo-experts all the time. It’s tragic that people judge a book by its cover. Anyway, this is the hyper-sensitive PC era that we live in.
People just do not understand that nothing worthwhile comes easy. I get similar feedback from good parents. One lady told me that her child threw a huge fit in a Wal Mart. He dropped to the floor and started screaming. This lady simply walked away to another isle, the child quickly got up, shut up and returned to good behavior.
I guess someone had the audacity to pass a remark to the effect that what she did was unbelievable and no way to raise a child. My client calmly responded to this woman that she loves her son more than she could ever know and that walking away from a fit will prevent him from pulling the same stunt ever again. [Note: This works for kids, not necessarily for dogs… but your point is well taken.] This is a new client of mine.
I will bet that she is a great mom and will be a great trainer with her new dog. We need to continue to educate the well meaning pseudo-experts that the benevolent use of correction in dog training is an essential part of having a well mannered, happy and confident dog that is a pleasure to be around. I have a big mouth.
We get our facts straight before we praise or knock a particular method. So I can say we have tried the purely positive approach, head collar systems (you know what I am talking about), operant conditioning, training in drive, etc… Some things have some merit in some situations (our approach to working dogs is very different from the spoiled pet, but these are not our pets… these are dogs who live in a strict working environment). The pet owner with the vast majority of pet dogs should train a la the pinch collar & praise for awhile.
Dogs trained this way learn that obedience while not optional… is still fun. They learn respect (not fear). They learn that the human has control over all situations so they worry about nothing… and so they become confident. THEY DO NOT HAVE BROKEN SPIRITS AND ARE NOT ROBOTS!!! I concur with your statement somewhere in your web site about customizing the training to the dog. “Canned” dog training fails the majority of dogs.
The positive-only approach to training has not yet reached its apex. The majority of our society will continue to avoid the sometimes tough (but necessary), and look for the easy way. The bad news is, thousands of good dogs will continue to be euthanized each week in this country… the majority of which I believe end up in the pound due to poor behavior that was created by– or could have been prevented by– proper action on the owner’s behalf.
The good news is, some of these people will be open-minded enough to try an approach like yours or mine. Despite the bashing we get, behind our backs… and will get the results they seek (a happy, well mannered dog). These are the ones that will sing your praises louder than all others. I know this because 30% of our business comes from other dog trainers.
Veterinarians and other animal medical professionals not only refer to us, but do training with us as well. We do charge substantially more than the competition, and we are out in the boonies, but they still come. They come from town. They come from other cities (several have come from different states)… all from referrals.
I know what I’m talking about when I use the term well meaning pseudo-expert… I used to be one. I thought that pinch collars were cruel. Crates were cruel. Those who dared use “shock collars” should be arrested… as well as those who cropped ears and docked tails for the sake of appearance. I thought no one knew more about dogs than me and those who thought like me.
Now dogs are my full time life. Just about 24 hours a day a dog is with me. I love dogs. We all love the animals… that is why we are in this. I know that what I tell a client to do is in the dog’s best interest, first and foremost!
The well meaning pseudo-experts often think that if you train with a pinch collar, you can’t possibly love the animals! I have to go now, I just wanted to introduce myself before I jumped on your chat site (I have never participated in any of these groups). Best Regards, Jim Haines