Dog Training Myths – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
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There are many misconceptions and myths about dog training and behavior.

Myth Number One: you can have a fully trained dog in a week of lessons. I’m surprised some trainers even try this as a sales pitch. Seriously. Do you think that dog training is that easy? Do you seriously believe that there is some secret method that requires no effort on the part of the owner, and that any dog is going to be well trained in that short amount of time?

Myth Number Two: prong collars cause dogs to be aggressive. Wrong. For example: You can make a fine meal with a knife, or you can kill someone with it. You can save a person’s life with a knife, or injure them with it. It is all about who is holding the knife. The same is true with ALL dog training equipment. Novices sometimes assume that use of a metal collar means the dog is going to suffer pain and injury in the training. Nothing could be further from the truth! At least when I train dogs, we are not using collars to deliver pain to the dog. I have had vets tell me that they only refer customers to trainers that use head halters or clickers, assuming any other tool was abusive and hurt the dog. I have always wondered if these vets consider what they do to dogs themselves. Do they ever administer a medicine that makes the dog feel awful? Yes. Do they do procedures that cause pain? Yes. Do they take weeks and weeks to get a fearful dog to be happy in the clinic before they do any procedures? No. Do they tell customers that dogs shouldn’t be allowed to play with other dogs because sometimes dogs will nip one another, or jump on one another, or get sports injuries from running around playing fetch? No. Proper training isn’t about inflicting pain. And if you make a mistake in the training, even if it is as simple as you accidentally stepping on their toes, dogs are resilient enough to rebound. Life is more complicated than those myths many people believe in.

Myth Number Three: Treadmills make dogs aggressive. Wrong. Criminals use treadmills to get pit fighting dogs into top physical condition before a fight. But, let’s say you are injured and you want to keep your dog in top physical condition, or you need to exercise your working dog, you could use a dog treadmill to provide the exercise needed, just like you could have them swim to get in shape. The problem isn’t the treadmill, the problem is what the owner is then going to do with the dog.

Myth Number Four: If a dog tastes blood, it makes the dog vicious. Wrong. Viciousness is a result of either abusive treatment of a dog, illness, or faulty genetics. In fact, many breeders feed their dogs “raw diets”, because they believe it is healthier than feeding dogs processed commercial foods. You don’t see these dogs on the raw diets becoming vicious. The two are in no way related.

Myth Number Five: Tug of war makes a dog aggressive. Wrong. However, there is a proper way to play tug with a dog, and an improper way. If you do it wrong, then you can make the dog aggressive towards you.

Myth Number Six: The best way to train a dog is with _________ (fill in the blank: food, petting, toys, tug, leashes, metal collars, fabric collars, head halters, clicker training, etc.). There are some laws of behavior, which always work a certain way. On the other hand, there are various methods of applying those laws. That is why you see so many dog training books, and why I don’t recommend dog training books to my customers. You need to know quite a bit about all the different methods before you can knowledgeably apply them or give expert opinions about them. The right approach usually involves “all of the above.”

Myth Number Seven: When a dog guards a toy or its food bowl, sleeps on your bed, growls at you, goes out the door before you, or eats before you eat, these behaviors are a sure sign your dog is demonstrating dominance towards you. Wrong. Aggression is more complicated than this. And so is dominance. And so is fearfulness. Most dog trainers and behaviorists have no clue concerning aggression or dominance or fearfulness.

Myth Number Eight: You should smack your dog if it defecates or urinates in your home, destroys your possessions, growls, gets on furniture, steals food, jumps on people, or is barking when you want the dog to be quiet. Wrong! Smacking a dog is a sure way to eventually turn your dog against you or other people. Smacking is oftentimes the beginning of creating a dog that bites people. If you smack your dog around, one day your dog is going to bite someone. Most cases I have seen, the dog bites you or a family member. The bite won’t seem to be a justified bite when it happens, but you caused it from previous abuse. The dog will get blamed for something you did wrong in the past. You can turn a perfectly normal dog into a vicious dog by such abusive training.

Shame on you! You know better!

Hire a professional dog trainer if you don’t know what to do!

There are many Dog Training Myths.