Thursday, February 24

How Dumb is the Dog Trainer?

Welcome to a Social Media Event in the Dog Training World.
It's scary.
And, in fact, it's pretty fragging brave. (That was my attempt at not swearing today. I don't know that that actually counts. What do you think?)

Enter in a few kids - adults, I mean - at a "round table," having a doggy discussion with the public.


First, it's a marketing gimmick - everyone has pamphlets and smiles plastered on their faces. Kind of makes me want to throw up - the fake smiles, I mean.

We have vets, dog trainers, groomers, daycare people, and the like. You also have "positive" or Truly Dog Friendly people and traditional trainers. 

Does anyone else see this going south? And fast? 
Like really fast?

It's an entire event, laid out before the public, of trainers undermining each other.
In front of a crowd.
And cameras..

Pause the event for a sec, here.

Ever been to a seminar with positive dog trainers?
Worst flipping atmosphere I've ever had the misfortune of being part of. Really.
There's a niche within a niche in dog training, brought to the forefront during social gatherings.
And it doesn't make you look good, guys.

So, this niche.
This niche is the Truly Dog Friendly folks, and people like they. (Yes, that is proper grammar. If I say "people like them" it means that people think they're cool, and that's not what I'm trying to say.)
They center themselves in the middle of the room, chatting amiably... with anyone who agrees with them.
Don't agree with absolutely every morsel that the Queen Bee at the center of the center does?
Don't approach.
I repeat: Do NOT approach.

And don't you dare have your own ideas or opinions about dog training.
You try and present rationality (or what you think of as rationality) to that crowd...
...Well, you'd have better luck trying to break a brick wall with your face.

It gets worse.
There are a lot of dog trainers in this world, but there aren't a lot of dog trainers who ...
...Okay, whatever... I'll be the one to say it.
There aren't a lot of dog trainers who know their ass from a hole in the ground.
Sure, they can train a dog, and they can even train you to train your dog.
They know next to nothing about operant conditioning. (Come the eff on, people. "I don't use positive punishment." Really? Ever said "No" to your dog? Application. Of. An. Aversive. IE: Positive Punishment.)

Here's the deal: I can make, fix, and build cars. 
That doesn't make me an ASE Certified Mechanic, the same way that being a certified mechanic doesn't necessarily mean you can fix cars.

And what really gets me is when people memorize this shit. That's the latter of the mechanic metaphor. 

Example: Negative Reinforcement = delaying of a punisher. 

This threw some people right off their game when it was posted on some CPDT-prep group on Yahoo, and no, I'm not linking you to it. I wouldn't waste my time.

Point: If the people who threw such a hissy fit had bothered to learn - NOT MEMORIZE - what R- is, they would have nodded their heads and said, "What an interesting way to define it."

So, here you have dog trainers - PROFESSIONAL dog trainers - who memorized a bunch of shit for their tests, passed, and now believe that their credo is the Word.


And it's not that I disagree with their credo, though now if you're still reading this, you're probably too pissed off to care whether or not I agree with it. 

The thing that will get my goat every time is this: When you join the religious faction of positive dog training, you close yourself off to any other ideas. 

And even if you were to say, listen to another idea, you're going to be ostracized by your own little "community." Don't believe me? 
The APDT routinely tries to kick people who don't agree with their credo off the board.
Still don't believe me?
Ask Ian Dunbar, who founded the damn thing. It's him that they keep trying to boot out.
Mostly because he points out that they don't know learning theory, and that it's all but useless.
And they just don't want to hear that.

Put it to you this way: I am a "By any and whatever means necessary" type of trainer. I'll spend 700$/mo on medication, holistic food, and behavior modification if I believe that's the way to go. On that same note, if I truly thought the best way was to put a shock collar on the dog, turn it all the way up and hold the button until the dog was incapacitated, I'd do it.

With the latter, you will never find me pre-planning that situation, because there is always a better way. 

(Although, I used the latter example because I've done it. Repeat: I've done it. As a positive - well, cross-over - trainer. Of course, the couple already had the collar turned all the way up and on the dog, and it was either drop the dog or offer my condolences to the family after he ripped out their three-year-old's throat while I stood there and did nothing about it.)


So, I'm a crazy, open-minded, cross-over trainer who hasn't crossed all the way over.

And I'm sitting at a round table discussion with a bunch of trainers who are all trying to puff themselves up on their religious credo.

Can I...

Can I just get to the point?

When you're in the midst of a public event, trying to undermine everyone else because you're credo is correct and everyone else is misinformed... 

You aren't impressing anyone except yourself. And if you're attending a public event to impress yourself, there's a problem.

Self-deceptive enhancement is only enhancing when you're talking to yourself, standing in front of a mirror. Not so great when there are cameras and media personnel, all looking at each other like, "You've got to be &*^&ing joking."

If you're a good dog trainer, people will come to you - through word of mouth as much as anything else. It won't matter what your credo is, or how you explain yourself. 
You wouldn't treat a client who came in with different opinions like you do trainers who have different opinions. So stop treating other people, who have different opinions like inferior beings.
My point: Get the eff off of your high horse. Please.

Oh, and the traditional trainer?
Oops for him. After he explained that his shock collar was "a muscle stimulator" (duh) that "didn't hurt at all" (yeah, okay, sure...) he said that his dog was happy and confident, and then went on to redefine what another trainer said about stress signals, just to prove his point further.
If his dog was stressed, he'd be yawning, licking his lips, and tense.

His dog's tail carriage was low, his body tensed while he scanned constantly, licking his lips and yawning repeatedly.

I've got to say it. At least when I trained traditionally, I didn't give some bullshit speech about how it "didn't hurt." I said, "Yeah, it hurts like hell; that's the point." 

And then I learned that it's just more fun to train without it.
And my dogs love me more.

The End?
Feel free to scream, insult, curse, call me an idiot, etc.
And, just to add insult to injury, I'm not going to reject you or your views/opinions/beliefs just because mine are different.