Moderately Gentle Training Rant, Report, Plans

For some reason, we are too often overly impressed by people's titles -- "Dog Trainer" is no exception. It takes ZERO credentials to be a dog trainer. Anyone can start a dog training business -- and they do. Training dogs is one of those things that has taught me how much I do not know, and makes me feel embarrassed when I look back at times when I thought I knew so much -- who did I think I was?! (Click Read more to read more)

The more I know, the more I know I do not know -- and my tolerance for people who claim to know stuff of all types is really, really low. Knowledge and education *should* breed some humility, and the ones who are full of themselves are among the most ignorant people I know. I do not mean that unkindly but it is true -- only those who have no clue think they have all the answers.

And so it is with too many "Dog Trainers". Let me get this straight -- you train a dog or two of your own, and suddenly you are qualified to be a "Dog Trainer" and interpret and assess and plan  interventions for other people's dogs?! Give me a very large break.

And owners -- you trust such a person??! One word - YIKES!!! Put your thinking caps on, friends - most Dog Trainers do not have the skills, knowledge, or abilities that you think they do.

And so I cringe when I hear things like, "my trainer says my dog is xyz" -- I suspect that we could get about the same amount of accurate information from the Magic Eight Ball as we do from most so-called "dog trainers". And the trouble is that once a dog or person is labeled by a so-called expert, we believe the label to represent truth and respond/react/train accordingly.

My intention is to wave the caution flag -- do not throw your critical thinking skills out the window when it comes to dog training. Nobody has your answers -- they can only provide input, which is filtered through their skills, knowledge and experiences (or lack thereof). Your dog needs you to be the expert -- don't turn that over to someone else...

Just some general points about trainers and training:

1. If you want a competition dog, do not go to pet dog training classes (past puppy kindergarten) - you need to go to someone who has competed for a period of time with different dogs -- period and end of discussion.

2. It is sometimes appropriate to correct a dog -- because some things are just not okay. Dog barks at the nice elderly neighbor -- totally fine to tell the dog to knock that %$#@ off. Think about it -- dog barks, you get her attention and give her a cookie -- do you imagine that behavior chain is going to ever stop? The cookie should happen when a dog does not bark at the neighbor. (Puppies are different -- they should always be redirected and prevented from undesired behavior).

3. Don't accept labels on your dog -- address behavior, and not what someone who thinks she is a dog trainer/psychic tells you that your dog feels/thinks/experiences.

4. Ill-mannered children and dogs typically come from overly-permissive adults -- you can impose rules, boundaries and limits without ever hurting a dog or child -- and you should!

5. Humans who freak out about dog behavior create freaky dogs -- that includes dog owners and dog trainers. Stay calm, friends!

Okay, I got that out -- being a breeder means you hear all kinds of things that makes your hair curl -- and I have very curly hair!

And speaking of being a breeder -- things could not have gone better in Washington!! Progesterone testing means we knew exactly when to breed and it happened on schedule with no problems, and so that H Litter *should* be doing some serious cell division as I type (and you read). We will do an ultrasound in a month to see what is happening in there.

I am super excited about this litter. Zed is even more beautiful and sweet than he was in January when I saw him last. He was a favorite in that F Litter -- just a sweet puppy that everyone loved and cute as a button -- see for yourself:

And Sydney -- well, let me share the results of the "maid test" and you can decide what you think. Maid knocks on motel door in Washington this weekend -- Syd runs to the door and wags her tail furiously, waiting for me to open it so she can greet her new BFF. Yea -- not a watchdog. Sydney is Galen's absolute favorite -- here they are when Syd was a baby:

And since we are looking at past pictures, how about this one -- it is Maize and Abra - and both are behind the Hopeful H Litter. Maize is Syd's grandma, and Abra is Maize's mom.

Good thing I like Washington and the Northwest berner people so darn much because I am going again on Friday. I decided I could not stand Zoey being in the "One Point Club" and so I entered her in a show this weekend, hoping that a judge will overlook her lack of coat and give her that one stinking point she needs for her Grand Championship. In the meantime, I am not grooming her at all -- this is quite a change from what usually happens before she is shown -- but I do not want to encourage more coat to come out before Saturday.  The show includes agility and so she will also do that -- we are camping with our Montana friends at the show site and so it will be fun.

The weekend after that both Zoey and Mac will do agility in Spokane. Mac is getting near the end of his time here in Montana and so we are trying to get that last agility leg before he jets off back to his real mom in Connecticut.

Plans after that are a little up in the air given all the recent changes that were required by that dumb squeaker that took cover in Cadi's intestines -- sigh...

I hope you are looking forward to an excellent week and remember -- don't check your brain at the door of your dog training center (or any other place for that matter)!






by Heidi on Mon, 08/15/2011 - 10:59

Some of the worst 'advice' I ever got was from trainers. I choose to believe they were well-meaning, but when I look back now . . . Shudder. Sigh. I know now that if the advice doesn't feel right, it isn't. I live with my dogs 24/7, and that experience is valuable. I trust myself, and I know that if I need help with my dogs, I find an experienced person who takes the time to listen to what I know about my dog before making suggestions. Actually, this is how I found Mary-Ann (and luckily made a good friend in the bargain!) in the first place . . . Lucky me. :-)

by Carmen on Mon, 08/15/2011 - 15:47

It can be very easy to be swayed by what "experts" tell us. I once brought our 5 yr old guinea pig to the vet for an open sore on her shoulder. The vet told me she needed to put down my pig. My guinea pig was acting normally, eating well, and purring loudly when petted and/or offered her veggies. I said "no" to putting her down. The vet treated the sore and sure enough, our pig lived a happy, healthy life for TWO more years! Know your pet, trust your instincts, and weigh your options to make an informed decision.

by Heidi Ho Marie on Tue, 08/16/2011 - 19:22

I am an Overly-Permissive Adult.....and I like it!!! *Koda agrees and thinks....If I only had a scone*

by Elizabethanne on Tue, 08/16/2011 - 19:51

Hmm. I've been mulling this one over. Dogs bark as a way of communicating. I don't think telling the dog to knock that [expletive] off addresses the root cause of the behavior. Oh, maybe it makes the person feel better and maybe they want to respond to the social pressure of having a dog who barks at a "nice" neighbor, but what does it do for the dog? And does it work? I find that acknowledging the bark, the communication, with a verbal "thanks for telling me" and eye contact goes a long way towards addressing the dog's need to communicate as well as meeting my need for good neighbor relations. YMMV and all that. And maybe you think the elderly neighbor is nice, but Fido finds the smell of prunes accompanying said neighbor to be quite punishing! ;-)

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