February 16, 2019
Well folks! It's been a journey.
When I embarked on this adventure of comparing all positive vs. balanced dog trainers, I expected to find vast differences, competition, and even drama between trainers.
What I actually found was the opposite.
After speaking to many different trainers (and featuring a couple of them in this blog series) i've discovered that all dog trainers are essentially on a scale. The scale starts at 100% positive reinforcement training tactics, and ends on punishment based tactics. There are no "good" trainers (from what i have found) that land on one part of the scale and stay there.
When it comes to 100% positive trainers, I believe they start at the beginning of the scale, and will slide further down if necessary, adapting to the dog and what they dog is telling them. The only difference with balanced trainers, is they choose where to start on the scale, based individual cases, the severity of it, how the dog responds to it, and further to that, jump around on the scale as needed.
With that being said, theres also a whole other category of trainers - let's call them "Divergents". These are the folks that call themselves experts, but have zero training, experience, or proof backing up their tactics. These are the folks that don't see any fault in what methods they use, and are unable to adapt to the dog. Instead, they are stagnant on the scale, cemented in place. In my opinion Divergent trainers are how "bad dogs" are labelled, how dogs end up re-homed, in shelters, and even euthanized
There a pros and cons to all training methods, but those pros and cons may not be the same for you as they are for me, or the next person. It's your responsibility as an owner to find someone you can work with. If you are not seeing improvement over time, or if you don't agree with something a trainer is telling you, find someone else. If your dog is not responding to training methods like you think they should be, try different methods. In general, do what you think is best for your dog and what feels right for you.
So moving forward, how can find a trainer that will work for us.
The answer is quite simple. Talk to them. Ask them as many questions as you possibly can. Don't settle for the first trainer that you see. Get second and third opinions. Most importantly, know your own moral standards, and stick to them
To trainers I say this. Don't be too proud to say no. If someone comes to you with an aggression case that you dont think you can help, or if over time your methods clearly arent working, be compassionate enough to recommend another trainer. Be hopeful enough not to send a dog to be euthanized.
Aggression cases are workable. Don't give up on your dog, do everything in your power to make sure your dog gets the help they need. If you are seeking a trainer for any type of behavioural issues, don't hesitate to question trainer's methods - they should be open enough with you to share what they think will work, and what next steps are if it doesnt. They should be willing to adapt their methods to meet your dog's needs.
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