The dog training industry is unregulated and to be frank, full of misinformation. You've got your
'whisperers,' 'listeners,' and 'telepathic certified babblers,' but just because it's not regulated
doesn't mean it isn't like many other industries. Let's face it,
Just to be clear, it's not to say that all of these fictional examples above are fraudsters, I would
suggest that most really have the best intentions and I'm sure many even have a lot of
'success', some people can get by with good instincts alone.
What prompted me to write this post was some of the content which can be found on Utube. Some of
the language and accompanying techniques for all to see can be very disturbing and yet to the uninitiated
it can appear quite reasonable.
Often these Utube clips are coming from people with many years of experience. As far as I'm concerned
it proves the point that you really can have 1 year of experience; 10 or 20 times. There is a lesson here
and that is the quality of experience can actually account for a whole lot more than the
So what is this language I hear you ask? A lot of the language I hear centers around
anthropomorphism, which is basically attributing our own human behavioural characteristics
onto our dogs. This is treating dogs like people and assuming that dogs learn, think and
respond just like people. We all know what happens when we assume, right? We make an 'ass'
out of 'u' and 'me.' It's no coincidence that these same trainers tend to offer solutions that
involve throwing lots of words around with very little substance behind them. We have all heard
it; 'alpha-pack-leader,' 'alpha roll' and perhaps even the dreaded 'dominant,' to name a few. As
a dog trainer I can't tell you how infuriating it is to hear the word 'dominant' thrown around in
the belief by a trainer that it's use will gain them some 'credibility' and of course to imply that
it's responsible for a 'generalised' overall behaviour of the dog in question. Then it's followed up
with terribly timed executions of modification techniques where the canine subject is pushed to
the absolute limit in order to attempt to understand what is being asked of them. Generally the
dog has no answers and offers overly submissive behaviours brought about by learnt
helplessness. I see the evidence of this all the time! These "trainers" show a complete lack of
understanding as to how dogs learn and what conditions provide the best potential.
The Dog Training Industry - a land of confusion for the uninitiated.
By Gordon Gill
1 Aug 2016
So what causes these assumptions, why is the dog training industry so full of assumptions that
lack critical analysis? I mean, it is true to say that dog training and behavioural modification
requires assessment, right? Well assessment requires interpretation and perhaps here in lies part of
the problem? If the interpretation is wrong, how much of the solution is going to be right? The other
problem is that the truth which science reveals doesn't always comply with some peoples
ideologies and methodologies. Sometimes the truth is just not what they want to hear. Truth in
science doesn't always offer a quick and simple solution, and these days more than ever people want a
quick result, Utube wants a quick result. Celebrity trainers want solutions which can be squeezed into 5
minute 'on-air' packages leaving the viewer feeling all 'warm and fuzzy' having closure provided.
For many, this doesn't happen and I've concluded that lazy trainers in the industry seek clarity not
by completing the jigsaw puzzle, not by delving deeper, searching further for missing pieces by
becoming an apprentice, no. They create their own clarity by making their own puzzle pieces from
their own non scientifically tested 'suspicions' and anthropomorphic solutions. After all, they know
people, so why not treat the dog like a person? I suspect this because I remember what I was like
before I approached the National Dog Training Federation. Before I found my mentor, before I started
my apprenticeship. I remember when I was a regular dog owner, qualified with a training education
from a 12 week group obedience class, a few books and some mediocre television celebrity dog
trainers. Sure, having grown up with lots of animals, probably having viewed every single wildlife
documentary religiously whilst having plenty of hands on exposure I had probably developed some
pretty good instincts. I certainly had a few pieces of the puzzle, but the reality is I had no idea where
they fit or how big the entire puzzle was?
Today, what scares me the most is that people who were like I was are currently already running
dog training business all around the world without actually understanding all the fundamental
factors which influence canine learning and the techniques involved in capitalising on this. They
are not learning the detail, nor are they acknowledging the constant requirement for further growth
and education. To make things even worse, they are then broadcasting their own exploits on youtube.
At the risk of turning this post into a novel, I'm going to finish up and say this.... You should always be
asking lots of questions. Even the most academically qualified specialists may arrive at your door with
a set of pre-existing problems accompanying the series of letters after their name.
I don't envy the prospective client, it's a dilemma and there appears to be no shortage of trainers
on offer. If i'd like you to come away with anything from this post it is this: It really doesn't matter
which industry your in, people are just that, people. They're all individuals; products of their
genetics and their varied environments. Just use your instincts, allow their presentation,
professionalism, efficiency, clarity in explanation and results decide for you. If there is doubt,
then perhaps there is no doubt? You'll want to feel confortable, relaxed, open minded and
hopefully prepared to ask lots of questions.
Best of Luck,
"We have all heard it;
roll' and perhaps even the
dreaded 'dominant,' to name
a few. As a dog trainer I can't
tell you how infuriating it is to
hear the word 'dominant'
thrown around in the belief by
a trainer that it's use will gain
them some 'credibility' and of
course to imply that it's
responsible for a 'generalised'
overall behaviour of the dog in
Dog Behaviour Specialist
Nationally Accredited Dog Trainer