Integrity in Dog Training

I have been considering writing this blog post for a number of weeks now, for a number of reasons. The dog industry is (unfortunately) rife with emotive arguments and propaganda with people pushing agendas and their ideologies combined with pseudo science or people that simply ignore it, opposed to looking out for the best interests of the individual dog and continuously furthering their knowledge, skill set and alternatives to increase their ability to help dogs and the people that are their guardians (owners). So I write this in the hope that it may help others seek and gain a better understanding of their dog and advice or referal to a professioanl that will assist them.

What initially prompted me to want to write this was after receiving a call from a distressed women whom was desperately seeking help after she was advised to euthanize her dog due to it’s “aggressive” behaviour. 

After gaining further information and details about her dog “Bella”, I agreed to come and assess and work with her and the dog.  When I got there, Bella’s owner showed me the daily diary she had been keeping for the past 9 months of every interaction she had with her dog from feeding times, to how many times she barked per day, as requested by the veterinary behaviourist she had been working with during this 9 month period. Now imagine how detailed and long a daily interaction record keeping diary would be after 9 months; WOW!

I continued to ask questions in regards to what they had been working on with Bella, I was dumbfounded to learn that apart from giving Bella the prescribed medication, Bella’s owner couldn’t really tell me anything that they had been working on as the behaviourist had never handled the dog nor helped or demonstrated any training techniques or provide advice on obedience.

I continued to ask questions as I thought I must be misunderstanding what she was saying, but it’s pretty clear when you are told “No the “behaviourist” didn’t touch Bella or take the leash, ever! The “behaviourist” would not come near her!”

Now I could go on in regards to the multiple things I would and did do differently in order to help Bella and her owner in gaining a better understanding of Bella’s behaviour and getting it under control, however the point of this blog is to hopefully provide relief to other dog owners and hopefully open the minds of other professionals in the industry. So here it is in a blunt format.

  • 9 months of weekly, fortnightly then monthly appointments with the veterinary behaviourist.
  • Bella’s owner was unable to share any learning she gain during his period.
  • Bella started medication
  • The veterinary behaviourist NEVER, handled or touched the lead or Bella
  • The behaviourist advised euthanasia

Now you can imagine the distress this would cause if you received this advice from a professional.

In my first session with Bella, I explained why Bella was displaying and performing the behaviour that she was and immediately put the basics of training in place.  

We started to crate train Bella and counter condition her excessive barking response to my presence whilst she was in the crate which we placed in the lounge room.

This was the first time Bella had been allowed in the house when guests were over and her first interaction with other people for nearly 12 months. The homework set was to continue to crate train Bella so she enjoyed walking in and laying down in her crate on her own free will and continue with the counter- conditioning steps provided.

The following week I returned to Bella’s home to see the progress.

They say a picture paints a 1000 words, so I’ll let these pictures tell the story.

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Now it frustrates the heck out of me that a professional had been coming and “advising” on Bella’s behaviour for 9 months (which doesn’t come cheap), with zero results or contact with Bella, only to end with the advice to euthanize.

Now for those that don’t know me or haven’t seen me work with a dog, I don’t take my eyes off, nor drop my guard when I am working with a dog that I perceive as a threat to my wellbeing. As you can clearly see, Bella and I are having great fun, taking selfies and in the photo’s below, demonstrating Bella doesn’t want to dominate me when I lie down on the floor, infact she comes and joins me.

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I have since referred Bella to a professional dog walker, that happily follows my recommendations when walking Bella and I keep in regular contact to see how Bella is thriving.

The really frustrating and unfortunate thing is, I have had multiple calls from people that have similar stories in regards to their dogs and this behaviourist. My frustration lies in the fact that people get so caught up in their own ego, qualifications and ideologies that the unsuspecting dog owner gets the short end of the stick, and ultimately, it’s the dog that pays with it’s life.

It is this notion and these illogical ideals that is seeing 1000’s of dogs die every day. But due to the “romantic” explanation of how using flawed training techniques and applications gains momentum as it sounds fantastic; the truth is it’s killing dogs.

Where has the integrity gone? Like I referred Bella to a professional dog walker, as this is what was and is in her best interest at this point, why are there so many “professionals” in the industry that choose not to refer to colleagues that may be more experienced in that particular field? Instead, they put it in the too hard basket or it doesn’t fit or work with their preferred techniques so they advise that ending the dog’s life is the way to go.

There are some cases where I will personally refer and advise other professionals due to their experience in an area of behaviour or work in conjunction with them as many other professionals have referred clients to me also. It should always come down to what is in the best interest of the dog, a trait that unfortunately isn’t always common practice in this industry.

So to those professionals that are aware that working together will get the best results for the dog, I would like to thank you, it doesn’t go unnoticed and more importantly, the dogs that are intrusted into our charge, have the best possible care and results to help support them and the people that welcomed them into their families.

For those that haven’t yet discovered the truth in the term “in the dog’s best interest” or haven’t considered referring on in the best interest of the dog, I implore you to grow as a professional and join in the power of referral to others that may very well make the world of positive difference, not only in your life but also the live of the dogs and their families.

Thank you to the following people for being active in the betterment in dogs lives and for making the effort to keeping ego’s out of the way of helping people and their dogs.

 

Glenn Cooke and the fabulous team at Pet Resorts Australia & Canine Evolution

Brad Griggs – Canine Services International

Pat Stuart – MS Kennels

Scott McGuinness – Canine ConnectHedgegrove Kennels

Lauren Hoyle – Pawfect Behaviour

Laura Taft – Honest to Dog

Forrest Micke

Uta Bindels

Chris Loverseed – Positive K9

Brydie Charlesworth – Brydie Charlesworth Dog Training

Daniel Mannix – Victorian Dog Training Academy

Dallas Burkevics

Jean Claude Bertoni – K9IQ

Trish Harris – Four Paws K9 Training

Gary Jackson

Kerstin Keimling – K9Fun

Catherine Rains (Webb)

Boyd Hooper – Task9

Claryssa Humennyji-Jameson

Shelley Revell

Kelly Gulliver

Alyssa Rankin Canine Compass

David Haywood –The Canine Classroom

Rachael Dols – Unleashed Artistry

Mishelle Dench – VicDog

And many others…

So don’t be afraid of asking for help or a referal for a second opinion.

Here is a photo of Bella on a recent walk 🙂

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We hope to see you at training soon so we can help you with improving the relationship with your dog.

4 thoughts on “Integrity in Dog Training”

  1. Awesome work Cat, I am privileged to have met and worked with a number of those on your list and to be a part of one of the groups mentioned. It is so good to be able to train with those who do not let egos get in the way and are there to improve themselves as well as everyone they come in contact with.

    After reading this I can relate this to breeding and showing of the breed I am in love with the Rottweiler unfortunately egos and lack of integrity is rife which is such a shame as we can all learn from each other to improve our breed, our handling skills, the health of our dogs and more importantly encourage and assist newcomers to the enjoyment of dog ownership as I see time and time newbies scared away, breeders who do not follow up the puppy buyers and give advice, so thank you for putting this out there.
    Neville Bennett

    1. Cat says:

      Thanks Nev, It has been a pleasure to watch and be a part of the amazing relationship you have with your boy Tank! My approach is to focus on what I can bring to the dog world in a positive light and to each dog and handler team, as this is what I’m in control of. I love meeting people such as yourself, a person that is sharing and caring and is able to remove ego from a result based decision in regards to what is best for the dog. Together with the listed and those that I am still to meet, we will all have an amazing impact on those we all collectively help. x Cat

  2. Jude Maclean says:

    Excellent article Cat. As a customer and trainer, I’ve seen and listened to advice given by well meaning trainers and professionals, who have not developed their training tool boxes to give appropriate advice to their customers and class participants. I’ve watched trainers chastise owners for guiding or correcting their dogs when some guidance was assistance was appropriate, resulting in a dogs behaviour escalating to beyond what the owner and trainer could deal with, resulting in owners feeling incompetent, becoming despondent and withdrawing their dogs from class, and after some time, trying to rehome their dog or considering euthanasia. A Professionals Knowledge and Integrity is key to both animal and owners welfare and partnership when assistance is sought, and referrals made when appropriate. As a dog walker, trainer and sitter, I strongly believe in enriching a dogs quality of life with regular exercise and mental stimulation, and love to get people involved with their dogs, making referrals to clubs and activities. Love your blogs and the support and training The K9 Co gives it’s customers and the training development you offer to up and coming trainers doing certificate courses.
    Kind regards, Jude Maclean – Peace of Mind, Pet and Property Services.

    1. Cat says:

      Thanks for your comment, feedback and sharing of your experience Jude. Training should always be a positive experience for the dog/handler team as I know you are well aware. Learning and professional growth should always be high on any trainer/behaviourists agenda especially when advocating for those whom lives are relying on your knowledge and expertise. It is for the betterment of the dog that I know we, The K9 Company attend, participant and run seminars and workshops each year. It’s all about the dog after all <3

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