05 May The first two points of contact
I’m not talking about an agility exercise here. I’m talking about the first two people that new puppy owners will meet which will set the foundation for their training: Breeders and Veterinarians. Sadly, these two ‘expert’s’ are just not knoweldgeable enough in the field of behaviour to be giving training advice. A new client of mine forwarded me her breeder’s book recommendation which included: Culture Clash (yippee), Cesar Milan video box set and book (ughhh), Bruch Fogle (ughhh), the Monks of New Skete (ughhh), and a few others I haven’t heard of. So the breeder recommends some bad books and the new puppy owner goes out and spends a lot of money and learns nothing useful. But the bad advice doesn’t stop there. Shortly after they bring the puppy home, new owners will meet with their vet where they will most likely get a lecture about dominance, and a referral to a correction style training school where so and so’s dog went 8 years ago. You get the picture. New puppy owners are sponges for information and desperate for solutions; they will take anyone’s advice even if it’s bad advice. Training is complicated, and resolving problem behaviour, even more so. I don’t give people advice about breeding dogs, I don’t give out medical advice, and I stay far away from canine nutrition; but most people have no problem dispensing training advice. I know they mean well and that breeders and vets just don’t know better. Certainly we are living a very confusing training era. On one hand we have positive-reinforcement based and shaping schools growing in popularity. Yet on TV we can tune into to Brad Pattison and Cesar Millan demonstrating alpha and pack training methodologies. Emily, my coworker likes to remind me that the former president of the CAPPDT (Canadian Association of Professional Pet Trainers), Roger Hild, is a leading proponent of shock collar training. These days, there’s so much conflicting advice, it’s enough to get anyone’s tail spinning. Certainly positive trainers have their work cut out for them. Educating clients and vets and breeders is no easy task especially when people aren’t open to learning. I know Ian Dunbar’s partial answer to this conundrum is http://www.dogstardaily.com/ – an excellent dog training resource. I also believe in the power of the internet. I hope that when people see the videos of my dogs dancing and excelling at rally; that they will ask me how we accomplished this. Perhaps this will be the way that I can influence people to train more positively.