Today I want to talk about dog training franchises. One in particular have run regular “advertorial features” in the doggy magazine I read, and I wanted to learn a little bit more about them. I have heard of the American chain of this particular franchise, and I know some US trainers are not impressed with what they see as the results of this franchises’ training methods. To say I was perplexed when ‘my’ magazine ran one “advertorial” from this company is fair. The next few left me completely dumbfounded; after all, this is a magazine that was involved in the campaign against Jordan Shelleys’ “training” methods when he was shown – to put it bluntly – terrorising little Roxy to try to stop her from resource guarding. And so I decided to do some research.
The UK website for this training company is vague, with no real information as to how dogs are trained; and several references to varying aspects of dominance theory. Something that we know has since been noted as incorrect, even by the very scientist who first used the term “alpha” who has since renounced this terminology.
Doing a quick search on YouTube to see what I can find, I see they have their own channel; but looking through the few videos, again the information is quite vague. There is a news segment from a US TV channel, where I learn than this company use “neither physical punishment nor treats”; and though they say their technique uses “positive reinforcement”, the segment shows a young puppy being literally barked at to get it to leave a treat on the floor, and the presenter says the company’s’ other training methods are a “secret mix you pay to discover”. Though at the end of the video you see a now apparently “nice” walk with the presenters’ puppy being jerked around on the end of the leash (albeit not very harshly, but on a developing skeleton, it wont take much to damage it), and still being barked at.
Looking at reviews of the company’s “trainers” away from their own site, but staying within the UK, comments say their methods include “barking” at dogs to stop behaviour; use of a water spray; and that bags full of of chains are thrown towards dogs (which apparently mimics a dogs “snap”); as well as water balloons; looming over, and even “rolling and pinning” dogs. There are plenty of people saying they would not recommend this company after family, friends, or even they have hired them; there are comments about people becoming a “trainer” in this company with little to no experience of dog training (since first posting, I’ve learned that “trainers” complete a four-week course, and then shadow another “trainer” for four weeks); and the prices are more than a little extortionate!
Overall, while I can find some positive reviews of this company & their training methods; most are negative, and very negative at that, and I am saddened to see ‘my’ magazine promoting these “trainers”, even if they are paying for advertising space.
Before doing this research, I was almost tempted to have an appointment with my local “trainer” to see what all the fuss was about; however it’s safe to say I don’t want them coming anywhere near Inka or I until they do some research on modern training practises, and learning theory; in the meantime I will stick to my kind, effective, and fair method of training; and learning as much as I can about training and behaviour modification myself to ensure I stay up-to-date, and can become registered with and practise under the banner of the UK APDT.