Condemnation Prior to Investigation
Several times a year, I have workshops for the dog trainers that I have close working relationships with. They come here to Delaware and stay in a house that we own, mostly for this purpose, and I invite members of the community with “challenging” dogs, to bring their dogs out for FREE behavior consultations and training sessions. (During this past course, I had a Connecticut Dog Trainer, a North Jersey Dog Trainer, and a Philadelphia Dog Trainer, in the course, among others) This is a great opportunity for the trainers to gain some new perspective, and it’s awesome for the dog owners, many of whom wouldn’t normally be able to afford what (used to be) my normal training fee. (Which I could easily charge, but find unfair to do, since I’m using the opportunity as one for training and development for the trainers.)
Today, I’m fuming. A woman and her daughter brought their 2-year-old rescued Jack Russell Terrier mix out for some training. I knew some basic background about this dog. He was “hyper”, he had bitten both the woman and her daughter, was dog reactive, and completely unmanageable. Since this is the profile of our typical client, it was a perfect dog to have out for training.
The woman arrived with her dog pulling on a harness. He barked continuously at me, and at the other trainers, throughout my 90 minute interview, and growled at me every time I put my hand near him. Exactly what I expected, based on our email correspondence.
But, during our talk, I learned that this woman had talked to several dog trainers, by phone, about her dog, while searching for help. Two trainers told her, after listening to her describe her dog’s issues, that she should put her dog down. Another said she would work with her, but that the dog would require an intensive “board and train” program which would cost more than $1000.00, and several, after hearing that the dog was aggressive, flatly refused to talk to her, or return her calls.
Though I’ve unfortunately heard this story before, I try to give my colleagues and “protoges” the benefit of the doubt, but after talking with this dog’s owner about her conversations with these trainers, and what they said, I have absolutely no doubt that she’s telling the truth.
I find this information to be disturbing, completely out of line, and about as unethical as it gets. HOW CAN YOU DIAGNOSE A DOG’S BEHAVIOR OVER THE TELEPHONE, SUGGEST A TRAINING PLAN, OR CONDEM THE DOG TO DEATH? What in the hell is wrong with our profession?
I had a two hour conversation with Patches’ owner and her daughter. Tears were shed. I told them that based on the information they were giving me on what they have already tried, my observations about the dog I saw sitting in front of me, and their willingness to follow through with a very basic training protocol at their home, that there was no need to send the dog away for someone else to warehouse for two weeks, before spending 15 minutes training it (and any halfway competent dog training would need half that time to achieve some results with this particular dog….. with a regular leash and collar… not an e-collar) and collecting a ridiculous 4-figure fee.
After spending an hour covering a solid behavior modification protocol with his people, worked with Patches for a few minutes and he responded beautifully. I gave the leash to his owner, who could not believe that this was the same dog she walked in with a few hours before. Is it rocket science? NO Like I said…. any competent dog trainer could have achieved this.
Are you a dog trainer in the Philadelphia Area? Did you receive a phone call from a woman with an “aggressive” 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Patches? Did you condemn this poor animal to death over the telephone? Did you make a training recommendation on the phone without meeting the animal? We should talk. I’m right up the road in Delaware, and if you’d like to do that, I’ll pay for your gas, and I’ll even have a few dogs available for us to work with. Oh… and I get to videotape it.
If you don’t have the balls to do that, you should perhaps consider another line of work.
Give me a call. I’m at 800.649.7297