It's Not About You...It doesn't matter if what you are doing is absolutely fucking awesome, or absolutely dreadful - in dog training it really is not and should not be, about you.
If it's about you, there's a problem - because when it's about you theres a bloody big risk that it's no longer about the dog, or the client.
Heres what that priority list needs to look like:
A bunch of other fucking stuff.
Right now theres a lot of cool stuff happening in the positive, reward based, open minded, caring sharing dog training world.
Oh yes - there's trick training, theres back-pack walks, there's 'do as I do' and there's snuffle mats and sprinkles and doggy zen and mooching vs walking and there's bite prevention and theres teaching kids to interact appropriately with dogs..
There is a veritable fuck-ton of good stuff going on, its awesome, its lovely, there is something there for you no matter what dog you have and what your goals or needs are.
But there's also one hell of a lot of ego flying around, there's trainers with 'celeb' status, trainers who are about to have 'celeb' status theres trainers who used to have 'celeb' status and don't any more - theres organisations who promised a lot and delivered substantially less, theres organisations that actually didn't do what it said on the tin and new ones popping up and brilliant ones doing their thing...
It's a big old melting pot right now and whilst theres some grumbly unpleasant shit under the surface I WOULD like to focus on the positives.
Theres more good than there is bad, I do believe that - and more importantly, the 'bad' that there is is just human shit, it's going to go away, it will all come out in the wash and it doesn't really matter.
But there is one thing that is starting to become worrying, and this is why all this ego and celeb status shit is a problem.
We all like and follow one another on facebook and if you are a 'name' you've probably got a FB list that is full or nearly full, you probably have a friend list that 95% of which, you do not know - I am not a 'name' and the latter applies to me!
When you like or follow someone, whether you intend it or not you are giving some kudos to what they do, you are saying 'I endorse this'.
You MIGHT just be friends with that person because you've no clue what they do, or you are keeping an eye on what they are up to - but in all honesty, the short hand is, friend on facebook, liked on facebook = endorsement from you.
When you put THIS together with the laudable and positive action of NOT talking about negative stuff..
You end up with bad shit happening and no fucker saying a word.
Whats that saying about that scenario?
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
We have GOT to stick our heads over the parapet - it is a fine line, it ABSOLUTELY is, and this is not and it never should be about people.. as I say, it is NOT about you...
It's About What You Do...If a method of teaching a dog involves physical force, involves startling the dog, is a quick fix method that carries huge risk, where a much lower risk method could be used.
I will say so. And you should too.
If you are the owner or founder of an organisation, this applies even more!
This nicey nicey lets all be positive and lovely - sure when it comes to talking to people, dealing with clients, handling dogs - yes...
But when it comes to ignoring abuse and welfare risks - no. Hell no.
Now I am of course NOT talking about attacking people and I am not talking about just being a shit-weasel, pointing out flaws with no real back-up, no alternatives, no science behind what you are saying.
Not at all, thats never useful, its as un-useful as the reverse, saying somethings shiny and wonderful and lovely without explaining WHY it is and how it works.
So when you see someone doing something you believe is wrong, what are YOU going to do? Because its every bit as much about what YOU do about it, as it is about what someone is doing in the first place!
Personally, for me, I will be speaking out.
If I believe a method is wrong, it will be because that method is risky, it is dangerous to the dog, the handler, to the public or all three.
It will be because that method does not pass my cost/benefit analysis - the potential benefits do not outweigh the potential risk.
And it will be because there are safer, more efficient, less stressful, less risky alternatives available that are practical and kind.
But I won't just say that something is wrong.
I'll be sure to make it clear WHY.. what those potential risks are.
I'll be sure to make it clear what the ALTERNATIVES are, and how to adapt those alternative methods to suit your situation and your skill level and your dog.
I'll be sure to make it clear how to manage your dog so that during the training or rehab process, your dog is not stressed or upset.
My remit when training or modifying dog behaviour is like medics, to first, do no harm.
I believe as positive trainers though our remit is broader than that, I think we should speak out when we see harm being done, and try to prevent others doing harm.
We should always attempt to educate, but if someone is not interested in learning, that should not stop us in ensuring that the safe, sensible advice is available, so that people can make an educated choice as to what to do - and that, as negative as it might appear, needs to include speaking out against harmful methods, because the average dog owner is NOT in a position to assess the risks and dangers for themselves, that is why we are the experts and they are the clients.