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  • Writer's pictureTeaching Tails

No Quick Fixes.

We live in a world where we can nearly get anything we want at the click of a button.

We live busier lives than ever before and want to have problems fixed as quickly as we can. It may then be tempting to work with trainers who promise that one session with them will fix your dog's behaviour.

The problem is we know quick fixes don’t even work on humans. They only suppress behaviour but fail to address underlying issues that are causing the problems. Take dieting for one, crash diets fail because to effectivity lose weight long term you can't just cut out carbs for a month. Your entire mindset has to change along with healthy eating and a dedicated exercise plan. It will take longer to reach our goal but results will last longer. 

Trainers Using corrections to achieve a quick fix.

Let's say you have a reactive dog. To help you the trainer may bring along a dog, then continuously walk your dog around it. They will give your dog a correction any time they react. They may even follow up with a treat when your dog stops. Corrections can be jerking up on a choke chain, slip lead or prong collar or the delivery of an electrical current via and shock collar.

Let us be honest about this situation, reactivity is normally fear-based. Is it fair to take a dog that is genuinely worried about other dogs, and correct them if they try to express that fear? Oh, I must not forget, give them treats when they stop.

Firstly the dog thinks this person is a psychopath they do not stop reacting because the nice person gives them treats. They stop reacting because this crazy person keeps hurting them every time they do.

The real problem is that this may look good and seemingly work fast but at what cost to the dog's emotional and physical well-being?
All they did was suppress the behaviour.

Say you did this to me to fix my fear of spiders. You show me a spider and pull a rope tight around my neck if I scream, oh and then give me a square of chocolate when I stop screaming.

Would you succeed changing my mind about the spider? I mean I must no longer be afraid of the spider because I stop screaming and you rewarded with chocolate right?

Let's look at what would really be happening?

I would see the spider know the pain was coming and suppress my scream. Cause I'm not crazy, I don't want to be hurt. I need to be silent to make you stop and hopefully go away. So no it didn't work! I still hate spiders, I have a sore neck, I don't like you much now and you have probably put me off chocolate as well.

Trainers like this usually also guarantee results!

Dogs' lives are affected by as many variables as our own. While we know how to help a dog feel better and safer in certain situations they are not robots. You can’t just make changes to their programming and that will be them permanently fixed. They deal with so many variables that impact their behaviour daily many of which are out of our control. So no, you can never guarantee results and we should be open and honest about this to dog owners.

Now I know some people will disagree after working with trainers who use these methods or they have used these techniques with dogs themselves. Everyone has the right to choose whatever training method they are comfortable with.

Personally, I would never feel comfortable using fear or pain to train my dog.

Chester is genuinely a little worrier about the world and whilst his confidence has grown dramatically over the years we still have incidents that remind him that the world can be a scary place. I adore him, quirks and all. There is one guarantee that I do give him though and that is he will always have a safe place with me.


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