Go with your gut
This image is one of my students who has never seen and never will see a choke collar. He is a star student in every way.
GO WITH YOUR GUT INSTINCT"So is it bad that she peed when he yanked and yelled at her?" This is what a woman asked me after talking to her about her experience with a trainer. I cringed as I pictured a sweet honey colored lab puppy being so afraid of the human on the other end of her leash that she peed. I was in a local furniture store and after reading the back of my xterra the sales asked me about the dogs. She told me about a wonderful young lab she had; sweet as can be and the horrible memories she had from the few training classes that they had taken her to. I explained further that I was a positive trainer and had no use for choke collars. The story was as follows:
The couple took their dog to a local "conventional" trainer. After the trainer told them what to do; they were told that they were going to ruin her and he took the dog; yanking and yelling her into submission. The sweet young lab then proceeded to pee on the floor. She had no doubt given all the signs of submitting to this horrible human but he did not stop in his abuse to her. This is sadly and far too often a reality for many. New owners feeling like they should trust the trainer hand their dogs over.
I have worked with many dogs; undoing what these harsh type trainers have done. Their answer for all dogs is to literally yank them into submission. And many use the psychological tactics; undermining the owners confidence. "You are going to ruin that dog." This is the same phrase told over and over to many new owners. One young Golden who was as sweet and amazingly smart as can be went through this exact situation. Unfortunately the owners turned this dog completely over to the trainer, only returning weeks later to find that their once bubbly and happy Golden was now a shell of what once was. They were mortified and explained to me; "we didn't know." Together we worked with the dog; lots of positive confidence building and he recovered nicely and is the amazing dog that he always was.
A dog trainers job is to build the guardians confidence; creating a sense of "I can do it" for the guardian. Afterall when the training is over; you are going to be alone with your dog so you have to have the knowledge to do it yourself. The training is mostly the owner; teaching the owner how to teach their dog.
Most recently I talked to a guardian who told me of the horror stories she experienced with a trainer. She said "they were so mean to her." She hated it and can't believe her dog had to go through this experience. So stop right here.
If you go into a situation and your gut tells you "NO." Then leave. Do not put blind faith in someone who is doing an unjust to your dog. Even if someone has been a trainer for 25-30 years; they could possibly be the worst there is. It was the "there has to be a better way" feeling that lead me to find positive training so many years ago. I started my training with one of the worst; harsh and demanding woman trainers there is. My experiences from this fuel my passionate about spreading the positive word. Our dogs deserve better.
There are so many people out there who are looking to make a buck anyway they can. They have no conscience; no passion for animals. These type people are driven by greed and power. I have met many trainers who are power hungry and use their physical power over innocent animals to fuel their pathetic thirst. I'm sick of it; but still today there are so many people who just don't know that there is a better way. So tell your friends; throw the word around as much as you can, positive reinforcement. With these two words alone; typed in to surf the web can bring a wealth of information for anyone who is interested.
There will hopefully be a day when we look back shaking our heads stating "we use to yank dogs around with a chain around their neck?"