An Open Letter to the BBC/The One Show

I have now emailed my letter of concern to the BBC, and directly to the One Show, while I await a response, I thought I would share what I have written on on my blog – if it inspires even just one more person to write in and voice their concerns too, then all the better.

To Whom it May Concern:

Re: BBC’s “The One Show”, September 16th 2011 – Jordan Shelley’s segment

I am deeply shocked and saddened by the BBC, an organisation that would normally undertake proper and full research into anything shown on one of their channels. The BBC had a rare opportunity to discuss with the nation how to find a good behaviourist, or training instructor; but it seems you chose to sensationalise serious canine behaviour problems. After watching Jordan’s segment of the show on iPlayer, I can honestly say that he is no “doggy behaviour expert”(as claimed by Chris Evan, though Jordan did not refute this) – where are his qualifications, what professional body is he associated with, what learning and courses has he undertaken, which training schools has he observed and assisted at, and for how long?

All I can see is a man kicking, shoving, and shouting at a small dog; ignoring the obvious signs of stress and appeasement that Roxy is showing, and generally teaching her that people are unpredictable and must be stopped before they do something scary or hurtful – as is proven by Roxy immediately biting at Jordan’s feet when told to leave the food dish alone after only a few minutes of “training”.

At the beginning of the segment he claims he can “fix” Roxy in “a couple of hours” – I have heard this claim before, but only ever on television where questionable methods are used to suppress a dog’s behaviour. This type of “training” has nothing to do with helping the dog, and teaching it a better way of living in the human world – it only serves to reinforce the dog’s original beliefs.

At the start of Roxy’s “training” we see the family stood around the kitchen, with Roxy, her food bowl, and Jordan taking centre stage, poised to deal with Roxy’s “aggression” – or more properly her resource guarding. At no point does Jordan seek to find out, or even suggest an explanation as to why Roxy might be behaving this way; neither does he tell them there is more than one way to deal with her resource guarding issues, let alone tell them there is a way to help Roxy without putting anyone in danger of being bitten or injured, unless the training was moved through at a pace which Roxy was uncomfortable with. Additionally, at no point is a warning given not to try Jordan’s “techniques” at home, or without first consulting a qualified professional behaviourist – something which I was saddened to read had caused one dog to be handed over to a shelter on the Saturday morning following the show, and no doubt countless others will follow, and will continue to follow as long as this segment continues to be aired on television in it’s current state.

Jordan lets Roxy begin to eat, and explains he will remove Roxy’s food bowl from her – coincidentally, this is how resource guarding actually begins in the majority of cases – dogs being worried that something of theirs will randomly be taken away.

Jordan is shown shouting at Roxy, and staring her down which – unsurprisingly – results in Roxy running at Jordan barking and snapping; Jordan had, after all, ignored Roxy’s body language which shows she is uncomfortable with what is going on.

As the section progresses, we then see a shot of a Roxy cowering beside – and then underneath – a chair; this is as Jordan claims she is “calming down” – if that is a calm dog, I am glad my dog is never calm!

In the section in Samantha’s bedroom, it would seem that Jordan kicks Roxy as she is running out of the room, of course we are not shown this, but from the movements he makes, it is quite apparent to me that he is making a kicking motion. Later, when she is apparently “OK” with Jordan being beside stood the bed, all I can see is a nervous, anxious dog.

Back in the “One Show” studio, Jordan says that there are “two schools of thought, dominance-based training, and reward-based training”, and boldly clams that “finding a balance between the two is really important”. However, scientific study, and hearsay, are two totally different things and are never to be mixed to be mixed, as this can cause more confusion and anxiety for the animal, as well as muddy the relationship between trainer and trainee.

I daresay I am a similar age to Jordan, however unlike him I am currently studying an accredited course to learn about canine psychology and behaviour, and I fully intend for this to be life-long learning so that I can keep myself up-to-date with the latest scientifically proven methods of animal training. It also needs to be life-long learning as I fully intend on becoming a member of the UK Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) – one of the organisations who promote the use of kind, fair, and effective dog training techniques. The APDT are just one of the organisations the BBC should have turned to, if they had wanted to find a qualified, experienced, behaviourist to help Roxy and her family – it may not have made for “exciting” watching, but it would have helped that family on longer-term basis, as well as any other dog owner who was watching the show and decided to try to imitate Jordan.

Yours Faithfully

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