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What you need to know if you have a dog....

One of the number one reasons that pets are euthanized is because of BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS. And while there are many causes of problems, one of the greatest is that there are so many amateur trainers out there! They don't tell you that they are amateurs, but their "training" techniques reveal it. In the days of yore, say like the situation with pet ownership in most of Europe and GB now, there is still a tremendous amount of true "folk wisdom" about how good training works. However, in America, the land of freedom! we have lost just about every last shred of that skill completely, but yet replaced it with a bunch of idiotic methods. Such as waiting until the dog makes a mistake, and then trying to select the best type of punishment! All the tools of professional and successful behavior modification are gone because all three of the main rewards are given away freely(!). As a result, there are not tools left for successfully modifying undesirable behavior! People also frequently acquire the wrong breed for their lifestyle, they get a dog because of a fad, or because of how they look, instead of what hundreds of years of breeding have installed in them, for example hunting dogs need to hunt (something), guard dogs need to guard (something) and herding dogs need to herd (something)!. Most hunting dogs spend 340 days a year locked up in a kennel run and are then expected to perform perfectly on those three days the owner actually goes hunting! On the other days they are often punished for digging, barking, chewing or running away.

The typical pet owner brings their new puppy home, puts it on the living room floor (usually a white rug, of course) and admires it. So then when the puppy has the first "accident" the owner flies into an angry state, starts yelling at the puppy, shaking it, maybe rubbing the poor animals nose in the excrement, and repeating "NO! NO! Bad Dog!!" Of course everything in this litany is dead wrong! Besides crushing the poor little beast's self esteem and possibly killing the puppy's spirit permanently, it doesn't work, it even leads to more serious problems. You see these dogs everywhere, they slump over, look afraid and cower (and maybe even pee) when they are encountered. These dogs also can turn into "fear biters", the most common reason dogs bite people.

The critical must-have skills include knowing how to facilitate problems with 1) toilet training 2) barking 3) biting 4) digging, and 5) refusing to heel, come or stay. Sadly, problems in these areas are almost universal these days. You also see the dogs that are being yanked around with a spike neck chain or the equally hideous "choke chain" collars. And unfortunately, many of these barbaric tools are foisted upon the new owners by hack trainers, or are acquired sort of a frustrated last resort because "nothing else works...". In many cases the owners will resort to shock collars, another cruel offshoot of hack trainers or frustrated owners.

For over 30 years I have been recommending a school of behavior therapy and puppy training by DR IAN DUNBAR who set up his first SIRIUS DOG TRAINING facilities out of Berkeley and Oakland CA. Now these schools are owned and operated by his son. (see . A huge part of their training for puppies are the Puppy Parties. They have a series of excellent books by Dr Dunbar and even do virtual classes on-line now.

At the Uptown Veterinarian, my wife and her friends were the "Puppy Princesses" who wore fairy-like ballroom dresses and tiaras and ran hundreds of Puppy Parties usually drawing 20-25 puppies per class. A fenced tennis court sufficed before their were off-leach sites. the socialization by other peers (with careful monitoring) is irreplaceable. The Sirius Schools also run an equal number of classes for adult dogs. Equally important.

Here are the ways to find a true professional trainer: They tach zero punishment (verbal or physical), they prevent all bad behaviors, all freedoms are earned, and everything that the dog wants (freedom, food, and praise) is exchanged for treats. Again, zero punishment, no choke or spike collars and everything is related to earning the three rewards listed above. Please avoid the Nazi trainers, but also please get your dog some professional training!

Incidentally, I didn't mean to exclude cat and kitten training. That is crucial too, as they are also quite often euthanized for behavioral reasons, all situations that could have been easily avoided, or treated humanely, if only the owners had adequate information. The Dr Dunbar books are a gold mine of information about behavior modification and training for all cats!


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