Saturday, January 02, 2021

Online Dog Training Trolls

 Eventually everyone online will encounter Trolls. Online trolls are bullies, and they can be quite irritating, annoying, occupying, and sometimes even threatening. Every online critic these days is an “expert”. They will claim unearned reputation, expertise, wisdom and credentials. 

Online trolls think they are entitled to provoke strife and trouble. Their posts are inflammatory. They want to make you angry or upset. They want to tear you down. And they seek to hijack your legitimate posts and make themselves the center of attention. 

I’ve encountered several types of Online Dog Training Trolls. Here are some examples.

The Competitor: Late one night, I received an angry email from a dog trainer. I was his target that night. He wanted to provoke a fight over dog training philosophy. At first, he started out with a few challenging statements. I was dumb enough to honestly answer them. I didn’t answer in a hostile manner. But that wasn’t enough, he then escalated the statements into an angry inquisition. I eventually had to just end it. What was the point? What’s his problem? I don’t know, and it wasn’t my job to find out.

With over 20 years of dog training, I’ve had plenty of these types of online encounters. It used to just be either anonymous phone calls or emails. These have now morphed into social media attacks, which brings in a larger audience to feed their nastiness. I’m not the only trainer who has been vomited on by competitors. I’ve had private conversations with them and each has had their share of nastiness.  Sometimes I have researched these trolls, and I usually find out how goofy they really are. Most have questionable credentials. Many have none at all. Many have troubled lives. Many are envious and jealous, and when they find you, they are going to lash out at you. They are losers, and they hate you if you are not a loser. Instead of working to create a true record of success, they attack the successful, somehow thinking that makes them higher in societal ranking. 

I never check out competitors. I really don’t care. I don’t compare myself to others. I study and work to improve for the dogs I’m working with, and for the people who need good advice. That has nothing to do what some other trainer is doing. It is irrelevant what they are doing. What some trainer is doing 500 miles away isn’t going to fix the separation anxiety, pooping, biting, jumping, pulling, etc. issues my new student might be dealing with.

The Fanatic: I have also received attacks from dog training fanatics. These cult-like critics adhere to some extreme dog training philosophy, and often will recruit their other cult members to gang up on you online. I’ve also seen this in the animal welfare community. For example, there is the extremist who believes it is abusive to ever even make physical contact with a dog when training. Seriously. If you won’t exclusively use a clicker and treats, you are a horrible person. For some, even using a leash is abusive. Another type of extremist is the types that turn dog training into some New Age religion. In these cases, they will attack you because you won’t do some kind of spiritual ritual on the dog, owners, and or home. I had a student who had an encounter with one of these types. She said the reason their fearful dog was biting workmen in the home was because their multi-million dollar home was possessed by evil spirits. Her solution was to burn a variety of weeds and then to spread the ashes all over the exterior of their home. The third extremist is the type that thinks that it is acceptable to use as much terror and force on a dog to get it to do what they want the dog to do. They advocate a practical torture chamber of methods and tools. If you don’t do it their way, you are not a “real” dog trainer. Only they are the real deal, you are a phony. 

You aren’t going to convert a cult member. These types are convinced of their righteousness cause, you are the infidel, and they are coming for you.

I’ve never claimed I know it all. I don’t. I don’t think anyone knows everything. There are always new things to learn, and that is what makes working with dogs and people so rewarding. A closed mind won’t discover new knowledge or wisdom. I never want to think I can’t learn new things and that I know it all. Dog training isn’t a religion and shouldn’t be treated as a religion. 

The Unstable: According to statistics, approximately 1% of the population is clinically unstable. These types range from the irritating to seriously disturbed. I know of one case where a “trainer” so intensely spooked some people in the animal rescue community that one woman started sleeping with a gun by her pillow! There are abusive trainers out there, sometimes they will end up in the news. If you read my articles, you’ll see some of the stories. I change the names, etc. just so that they don’t get more business and so the public doesn’t get taken advantage of. There are also fakers, who pretend to be someone and hide behind one or more fake identities. Any abnormal type of behavior can follow. Welcome to the 21st century.

In conclusion, there are online trolls for every person and topic. You pick the person or topic, and someone out there is trolling and wasting everyone’s time. My advice is if you see someone trolling, scroll on by. You might get involved, however, that troll might then try to contact you, too. None of us are here to counsel trolls about their troubled lives. It is the new reality that comes with doing so much communication online. Yes, that phenomenon even pops up in the dog world. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Dogs and Mt Rushmore

 I watched National Treasure: Book of Secrets the other day, and it reminded me of when I was on vacation to Mt Rushmore... of course, I brought my dog along. Part of the purpose of dog training is to be able to have your dog with you, and be prepared for any environment. Now is the time to start training your dog, to prepare for next year's adventures and hikes. Message me to schedule your dog! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My Dog Has Died What Should I Do?

 When the old dog passes away, take time to make memories and grieve. But, if you are a dog person, you are going to want another dog at some point. The new dog doesn't replace the old dog, but the new dog will fill that hole in your life. Then learn to appreciate the new dog and don't try to make the new dog into the old dog.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Lack Of Understanding And Support In Dog Training

Many years ago, I had hired a dog trainer to assist me with one of my dogs. However, I had to terminate the relationship. Here’s why…

While this trainer had been training dogs for about 10 years, he had never owned a dog for himself. Ever. Thus, dogs were more of a machine to be worked and fixed rather than a pet. That important element made him unable to relate properly to me or my dog. It was a blind spot and he couldn’t see what he was doing wrong with me or my dog. 

A lack of good training and burdensome behavioral problems can significantly disrupt your life. When things get bad enough, and if the trainer can’t provide the necessary answers and support, dogs risk relinquishment, abandonment or euthanasia. Even if the trainer has the skills to fix whatever the dog needs help with, if the trainer can’t sense or listen to the owners to know the severity of the problems, bad results can happen. 

Behavioral problems, especially, can materially and negatively affect your life, especially regarding issues of house training, separation anxiety, aggression, or inability to pleasantly interact with any member of your family or your guests. Pet behavioral problems can put a serious drain on your family, such as taking precious time away from your already busy schedule, financial hardship, quality of life issues, a compromised social life, and can result in you being overwhelmed with feelings of grief, anxiety or depression. It also doesn’t help if your dog isn’t happy, appearing fearful, sad, aggressive or anxious. 

I didn’t start out as an adult wanting to be a professional dog trainer and behaviorist. I started out, like you as someone who just wanted a fun and affectionate dog, just wanting to be a pet owner. I started out as a novice and did a lot of the wrong things… well, maybe not all the wrong things. As a result, I experienced training and behavior problems. For example, yes, I experienced puppy house training accidents in my house, stepping in warm gooey poop in the middle of the night in my bedroom. I could give you a long list of mistakes I made over those early years. Unfortunately, a lot of the dog life lessons I learned had to be earned, and it wasn’t until I figured out I needed to pay for help did I start getting some good answers. Fortunately, I never got involved in some of the horror stories that some pet owners experience, but I did run across some bad training.

I think a significant factor in my success as a professional today is that I have always cared about how dogs affect people. I saw how my dogs issues affected me, so I could relate. Further, sometimes, to get to know the people helps me get a better result with the dogs. For example, the other night, I spent over an hour after my last evening lesson talking to the owner’s son about being a young man and ideas about finding his life path. His mom thanked me when I was about to leave… at 10:37 pm… way too late at that point (I had to be up at 5 am the next day for an early morning lesson). But, he needed to talk, and in that conversation it helped me understand their family and I’ll better be able to dial in their continuing lessons in the coming weeks. 

I have done mostly private lessons my entire dog career, so I’ve seen and been involved in countless home dog ownership situations with almost every type of pet training and behavioral issue you can imagine. I try to get a full picture of the home life of the dog, not just focusing on what the dog is or isn’t doing, but getting to know the owners, so it all fits together. I’ve found that discouraged and frustrated owners need new motivation, encouragement and support. It is hard for many to start on a new path performing new habits. Some people aren’t easy to talk to or reason with, however, I make sure I am easy to talk to and reason with.

I think it is also important for me to be there to cheer on behavioral and training breakthroughs. I do that as well. “Excellent! Super! Great Job! That’s amazing!” Students need encouragement to reach their goals. Almost everyone benefits honestly knowing they are on the right track, doing the right things, making good progress. If it is good, I’ll say it is good. 

In the end, sensitivity is key to proper understanding and support for dog owners. A good trainer and behaviorist provides that.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The Musical Dog

Today was Day One of practicing my clarinet. I played for many years, many years ago… then I took over 25 years off, and now I’m starting all over again...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dog Training Perfection

Dog Training Perfection: If I am your dog trainer, do I expect you and your dog to do things perfectly? As I say over and over again, “advanced obedience is mastering the basics.” Here’s what I mean. I have a spreadsheet of almost all of the dog obedience exercises I teach, from beginning to advanced. That list has 211 separate exercises, and variations on those exercises. In addition, there are other things that are covered outside these exercises. For example, let’s start with putting on a collar. There are right ways of doing that and wrong ways of doing that. The goal isn’t just getting the collar on. Nope, no, no.

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