Hazel Carter

Pet Behaviourist

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Jargon and Training Gimmicks

Quick Fixes and Physical Restraints
Dog trainers and pet behaviourists are often falling into the trap of labelling the poor misunderstood animal with one of the fashionable "in" words or statements, often giving misguided, insensitive or even damaging advice. How many times have we heard the following "buzz" words or statements; aggressive, dominant, attention seeking, not socialised? Or phrases such as "Never let your dog walk in front of you or go though a doorway first." or, "Don't let your dog sleep in the bedroom."? These statements are casually thrown out as fact without an in depth understanding of that particular person' s circumstances or the temperament and history of their pet. It is arrogant and insulting when so called "experts" bombard the poor owner with conflicting, sometimes inaccurate, or incomplete advice.

"Don't let your dog walk in front of you. It shows he is dominant."
Does it? Where do sheep dogs, guide dogs, tracker dogs, police dogs work? In front. How about drug detection dogs that seek out explosives and unexploded mines, their handlers are well behind! I am very happy for my Newfoundland to hurry though the door first as I bring up the rear, because she is carrying in the week's shopping from Tescos! Sometimes she pulls like a train and sometimes she stands rock still how ever hard I pull; I find this very useful as she pulls me up steep slippery slopes and acts as a safe anchor as I hang on to her as I climb down again!

"Don't let your dog sleep in the bedroom."
Statements such as this are not helpful. Some owners are on their own, and are often lonely and nervous and enjoy the security and comfort their pet gives. Some people have to work during the day so like to maximise the time their pets are with them when they are at home. The important issue is whether this is causing a problem, or is it likely to in this particular case?

Aggression
There are many reasons for this that have to be explored. One case I helped with was a little dog who suddenly become aggressive when picked up and enthusiastically cuddled by his owner. His "aggression" problem was very painful anal glands! I think I might have been a bit aggressive too!

Then we have the quick fixes and physical restraints, the head collars and dogs trussed up in all kinds of harnesses. We have the buzzers and shockers, clackers and clonkers. All these gimmicks are a poor substitute for an in depth study of the dog and its special needs.