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Dr. Ps Dog Training

Recipe to Ruin a Good Dog
by Christina Karlhoff (
Copyright © 1999

If anyone is going through, or is planning to go through with the job of training a pedigree dog, do yourself the very important favor of not getting the dog trained by just any so-called dog trainer. Why? Well, first of all, it's almost like abusive parents -- any moron can be a parent -- but an understanding and caring person would more than likely become a good parent; so goes doggie "obedience training".

You don't believe such nonsense. Well, come on over. I will introduce you to a beautiful 10 month old Rottweiler who was doing just fine until we (my spouse and I) made the innocent-but-tragic mistake of hiring a "dog-trainer" to teach the pup some manners. Ha! So, after this "trainer" dragged the little thing around by a choker collar assuring us that that's the way it has always been done, we found out the hard way that this type of "obedience" has made our Rottie fear-aggressive. Can't trust him anymore. If you even look like you are going to grab him, or make him nervous, his little mind says "Here it comes--pain--force--well, I'll get them before they can get me!" Oh brother, right? Well, 9 months and $1000 in bite treatment medical bills later, we are left with only two choices -- get rid of him (that's the easy and unfair way out), or, find a REAL dog trainer. A feat in itself, but they are out there!

It is all too common. Are you aware that over 95% of dog aggression problems come from using aversives in training (that is, bad parenting)? And that 100% of those dogs are euthanized because the owners don't know what to do about it? Hear this -- dogs with true psychotic problems are rare. Dogs aren't humans, but they are emotional creatures, and most dogs with behavior problems have the same rut to get out of as do the owners. On the same token, the owners of dogs with behavior problems rarely know how to solve those problems. I know, since I'm a shining example. You don't want to get into my position; it is far from easy to undo what damage has already been done! Hopefully one doesn't have to arrive at this conclusion after the fact that their sweet pooch has turned into Norman Bates. Part of the reason why I wrote this was to let others know of what could happen.

So, who do you go to? If you are lucky, you can open the yellow pages, look under dog training, and find someone who advertises that they specialize in behavioral problems. Not that you have to have a problematic puppy, but chances are that that individual holds the informal or formal title of Dog Behaviorist, or Dog Psychologist. These folks study dog behavior. If you want a loving and caring dog, not a potential Cujo, or a potential wussydog, invest your hard earned money with confidence in somebody who lives to understand canine behavior -- it just makes better sense. Remember, anybody can call themselves a dog trainer (they don't need a license to be one either). Your generic dog trainer may tell you how their methods are always positive. If it involves yelling at your dog, making loud noises to get your pup's attention, kneeing the dog if it jumps up, using a choke collar, or (god forbid) any electric stimulation, hang up the phone! Anything negative or aversive done to your puppy could reflect on you later! Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. When young kids are smacked around until they do what you say, kicked or kneed in the gut for being excited, left in the basement and ignored as punishment, what kind of people do they usually grow up to be? The moral here is, if you love your dog, take the time to educate yourself about the breed, and whatever you do, get a real dog trainer who cares -- about your feelings and your best friend's feelings, as well. But is it more expensive? No, not really. But I'd much rather spend $150 on two life-long sessions than spending $45 on someone to bully my dog into compliance, times three or four, and then shell out hundreds more in attempts to redeem my dog.

The Assoc. of Pet Dog Trainers is an excellent place to start looking for the right type of obedience training for any pet dog. By the way, for any dog trainers that may be reading this: please, don't take offense! Whether you agree or disagree with my conclusions, the above link is also a wonderful resource for all professional dog trainers. Continuing education never hurts, and this organization was founded for trainers and pet owners alike.

Today my dog is in the process of behavior modification. There is hope that he will be able to heal and eventually live with us happily. Until then, I will continue to let others know about the "Recipe to Ruin a Good Dog".

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