|A random pair of working cockers; not the dogs in question.|
Unlike Barbara Woodhouse, I do not believe there are "No Bad Dogs."
Dogs, like people, can be brain damaged and perhaps even psychotic. This is, of course, very rare, and so too are the number of dogs that cannot be helped by a competent trainer.
But what is a competent trainer?
Can you be a competent trainer if you have never even owned a dog yourself?
Victoria Stilwell put herself out to the world as a dog trainer when, in fact, she had never even owned a dog.
And this was the result.
Faced with two wild-at-home cocker spaniels, one of which had biting issues and which she could not seem to help with her fly-in-and-fly-out schedule and one or two small bits of knowledge gleaned from a correspondence school dog training course, Victoria Stilwell advised the family (by phone, no less) to put the dog down. To be clear, this is a dog that was vet-checked several times and which had no medical issues, and the other dog in the house was a train-wreck mess of behavior too (though not yet a biter).
Apparently, Victoria Stilwell had yet to hear of a muzzle.
She also seems to have no idea that there are boarding kennels where the dog could have lived out its life on her dime (she certainly has the money!), or that the dog might benefit from a little field work (yes, yes, this is a working breed).
Of course, consulting another trainer would have been out of the question. And why? Why, because Victoria Stilwell is, by her own proclamation, the greatest dog trainer in the world!
RUN from any dog trainer that proclaims that he or she invented dog training.
RUN from any dog trainer that starts off with an "I believe" statement of philosophy rather than simple affirmation of the basics of operant conditioning -- reinforcement (treats, play, etc.), punishment (voice corrections, leash corrections, etc.), and extinction (no reaction from behavior, desensitization) which have been the backbone of dog training for over 2,000 years.
RUN from any dog trainer who does not actually watch dogs and who ignores what is obviously working, and who does not think that the dog is the real authority on what works when it comes to dog training.
Above all, accept the fact that the real "secret" to dog training is that the dog needs to be given a lot of exercise and time by you, that you need to be buy a book or two to learn the basics of operant conditioning, and that you need to learn to be consistent and reward good behavior, not bad.
As for Victoria Stilwell, I imagine she knows more now than she knew four or five years ago.
Sadly, however, she has yet to learn that she is not the world's authority on dog training. That authority is owned by a dog.