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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;

'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


Forget About Labels



Dog Industry



Gordon Gill

Dog Behaviour Specialist

Nationally Accredited Dog Trainer





Dog Industry


Words of Wisdom






Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog

by John Paul Scott (Editor), John L. Fuller

Dogs: A New Understanding

of Canine Origin, Behavior  

and Evolution

by Lorna Coppinger and

Raymond Coppinger

Excel-Erated Learning:

Explaining in Plain English

How Dogs Learn and How  

Best to Teach Them

by Pamela J. Reid

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