Rovers Return Training Academy

How do you know if the dog trainer you choose is not only effective but uses kind methods?

It’s difficult to know if the person that you have invested time and money in will be able to not only help you with your dog’s behaviour but also understand why your dog behaves the way that they do and uses kind methods to train the behaviour, looks and words can be deceiving!

In my experience, people will use who their friends have recommended, or the trainers popular on TikTok but is this the right trainer for your dog?

It’s controversial, but time and time again I see posts praising dog trainers for their great work transforming their dog’s behaviour, but when I see the video or look at the trainer, their dog has been punished and is displaying avoidance behaviours.

On the surface, it seems great, your dog isn’t barking and lunging at the dog, wow, what a transformation!

But have you ever stopped and wondered why the sudden behaviour transformation, without prior learning?

All animals, including humans, has a primal survival instinct. It’s in our brains to protect us from harm and keep us alive. But humans have a much larger brain that is capable of a higher thought process, therefore, we are able to determine situations and make a decision on how to behave.

Animals don’t have this luxury

During every event, the animal’s brain assesses whether it is good or bad. Let’s look at it as pessimism and optimism. This is a natural process, not a chosen one.

Therefore in a situation where your dog is displaying reactive behaviour (barking, lunging etc), it is because the brain is driving the behaviour due to the pessimistic view of the event.

By adding a product that creates avoidance – halti, a figure of 8 head collar, prong collar, e collar, shouting, hitting, lead corrections, water sprays you are adding a degree of pain or discomfort. Either way, the product will have some degree of dislike for it even to change the behaviour, if it didn’t then it would have zero effect on the behaviour.

Let’s look at the e-collar. The shock is given when the human thinks the behaviour is occurring. However, often it actually occurs after the event (there is a delay from the brain thinking and pressing and the shock being delivered).

This can create confusion, learned helplessness, and aggression as the brain can perceive the shock at any given time as it isn’t always delivered at the time of the event. Even if it is provided at the correct time, the emotions that drive the behaviour are the same, if not driven higher by the pain. There must be some behavioural response to emotions, it is what the body does. You may have stopped this behaviour, but another will be sought by the brain, which could be worse!

I have digressed slightly, however, there are still ‘trainers’ promoting their services to unsuspecting clients who willingly trust and follow their methods.

Choose a trainer that has a number of qualifications, and not just online, short courses.

Do they follow regular CPD?

Are they a member of a professional body? This can be confusing, as you can pay to be a member of organisations. There are only a few that assess their members. APDT, IMDT, ABTC, UK Behaviour Charter, PACT.

Check their social media presence – do they post videos of dogs with head collars? Use e collars? Some of the very popular online who are always on TIK TOCK regularly promote the use of prong and e-collars – This is why when your mates recommend someone, take the time to check out their methods.

Do their videos show the use of rewards? Often they don’t show the punishment side, marketing is made to look good, but behind the scenes, punishment has been used. (I can always tell these types of trainers)

Do they have dog training and behaviour qualifications? There is a major difference between being able to train a dog to go through your legs, roll over, and understanding the dog’s brain and how emotions affect and drive behaviour.

How many dogs do they have in a class? I usually find those that don’t understand dogs fill the class with high numbers. This can create reactivity, inhibit learning and have an overall adverse effect. Do they put reactive dogs in the presence of other dogs as part of training? This should not happen.

How long are the courses? Puppy classes should be at least 6 weeks. This is because the pups need to learn through progression, start easy then gradually add difficulty, distractions, distance, etc. 3-4 week classes probably won’t cover what you need to learn and help you understand how your puppy learns and grows.

In the past month have had several enquires, people have either been advised, considering or have been using punitive methods.

If you want to use punishment and disagree with me, then I am not the behaviourist for you. I will not condone the use of these products.

If you have used a balanced trainer or you are struggling with your dog’s behaviour then click on behaviour modification and book your free, no obligation, discovery call.