The Dangers of Choosing the Wrong Dog Trainer

Jul 30, 2020   Tracey Aston   Training

One of the most overlooked steps in pet care is training. In the past we have written about how to choose the right dog trainer for your pet and given tips on how to find a positive based trainer, but choosing the wrong dog trainer is even more dangerous than choosing not to train your dog.  

Unfortunately, the pet care industry is an unregulated industry, meaning anyone can say they are a dog trainer. Someone could have watched a dog training show on television or read one book and say they are a dog trainer. This can set a very dangerous precedent and pet parents must be especially careful when choosing a professional dog trainer. A professional trainer will be educated through an accredited school that offers certifications upon completion and requires hours of hands on training with a certified trainer with many years of experience. Their schooling will address canine communication, body language, lifecycles, proper animal handling techniques, animal science and breed specific traits. They will be insured, bonded, involved in professional organizations and invested in continuing their education for the benefit of the pets in their care. For professionals, this is their business and they take great pride in the training they provide and will always be considering the wellbeing of your pet, your family and the public.

If a pet is trained with aversive training equipment or negative based training, they can become fearful, anxious and even aggressive and then must be trained to overcome their fear, anxiety and aggression before they can be taught the correct way.  Unfortunately, for some pets even after years of positive training, trust work and bonding, they will still hold on to the memory of the pain and fear associated with aversive training.  That means a pet who has learned through aversive training methods may instinctually act out years after the aversive training has ended. In addition, if the does become human or dog aggressive, the owner is responsible for any damage the pet causes by biting someone or attacking another dog.

A pet who has experienced negative stimuli from a shock or choke collar will react negatively to any type of collar being put on their neck.  If every time someone raised their hand to you, you received a smack, you would start to get very defensive when someone raised their hand. In the same way a pet who has been trained with pain will react defensively in any similar situation. This means anyone attempting to put a collar on a dog such as a Professional Pet Care Specialist or family member, or a veterinarian trying to examine a pet, are now in danger of a pet reacting defensively.

Think back to a time and place where you had an especially fearful situation.  Did you become stuck in an elevator? Where you lost in a strange town?  Now if you think about that situation, can you still feel the anxiety and fear? Does it all come right back? Have you tried to avoid elevators now? Buy a GPS? Our pets are the same way but they don't have the option to avoid situations or things and those fears easily flood right back to them.

Even if the owner is fortunate enough for the dog not to become aggressive, aversive training could still cost them financially. Choke and prong collars can cause permanent long lasting damage that may require a vet's care.  Because aversive training doesn't work with the dog, the dog will require further training and now a trainer is dealing with a stressed, fearful pet. This could take months to reverse and put the trainer in danger too!

A trainer using aversive training may be able to get your pet to listen temporarily but at what cost? A pet will now live in fear, the trust bond will be broken and the pet is now afraid of doing anything because no one taught them what they want them to do, only punished them for what they didn't want them to do.  Positive training allows the pet to make their own decisions and teach them right from wrong and allow them to think and make decisions. It allows them to know what is expected of them not just punishing them for unwanted behaviors.

Our pets are living creatures with minds or their own and great memories who learn by association. The danger of choosing the wrong dog trainer can lead to a lifetime of fear for a pet and of danger for anyone who comes into contact with your pet.

The best possible start in life for your pet is to choose a positive, modern, scientific based trainer who will work with your pet in the away they understand and communicate with them through positive association. 

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