Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When People Think Strange Things About Dogs


"You can train dogs all you want, but as soon as they die, they forget it all."


I was a speaker at the 12th Annual International Association of Canine Professionals in Orlando, Florida over the weekend and met a bunch of terrific people and their dogs.

I asked the same question over and over of all the dog trainers I met: "How did you get into the world of dog training?

The variety of answers I got back was dizzying.  I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of backgrounds -- everyone from the first woman ethologist in the U.S., to a former electronics technician who now had a decade of solid dog work under his belt.

Along with a diversity in backgrounds, was a diversity of training methods.  This was not a "one size fits all" crowd -- a point underscored in Martin Deeley's excellent presentation entitled "There Are No Magic Wands".

So what did I talk about?  My presentation was entitled When Good People Think Strange Things About Dogs, and it was a naked attempt to try to get dog trainers to suit up for a new American dog culture centered on meritocracy, rather than to parrot the contrived British dog show culture fashioned to salute aristocracy.

Dog trainers, it seems to me, have a stake in people doing things with dogs, and they have a stake in dogs living longer so that their training investments are not wasted by disease, dysfunction and death.

As I told the conference participants:  "You can train dogs all you want, but as soon as they die, they forget it all."

For those interested in the slides and the text of my presentation, I have put up a PDF of both here.
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4 comments:

Jen said...

Thank you for posting your presentation! It would have been interesting to attend.

Did you get any interesting comments and questions after this?

PBurns said...

Yes. First question was about non-working breeds, then questions about food, pit bulls. May post a few Q & As as I remember them.

P

april 29 said...

Patrick, You had me...I loved this presentation, a lot, until I got to this remark "I am still not sure what a Dogue de Bordeaux is supposed to do that a rescue Pit
Bulls cannot do better, but I am still applauding a focus on health." You have gone from a remark about a dog with life shortening physical health issues to a remark about a dog with life shortening mental health issues. These issues are equally serious. The off-the-charts aggression of pit bulls is something to consider when making comparisons. You can't train away DNA. The aggression found in pit bulls is the cause for many of them to enter the rescue system. A change of address is not likely to change the actual dog.

PBurns said...

April 29, it is is extremely imporant to NOT be breed blind, a point I make to both sides in the world of Pit Bulls.

I had a question from a Pit Bull defender at the conference who has herself adopted two dogs and I have no doubt at all that they are well behaved and well trained. They are spayed, and she knows what she is doing. Full applause to her!

But, as I noted at the conference, there are Pit Bulls and Pet Bulls and everything in between. Most of the time these dogs come with a few more amps inside them than the average dog, and too often their owners are too young, too undisciplined, and with too unstable a life and a living arrangment. The result is that nearly a million pit bulls a year are killed -- 40,000,000 pounds of dead pit bulls a year -- because of this mixture of a high-amped dog and a sub-wattage human.

Please take the time to read this post and the others on this blog about Pit Bulls >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2010/03/between-two-lies-lost-opportunity-for.html

To be clear I am NOT saying this dog is the right dog for everyone. In fact, I think very few people should own butcher dog breeds, but I would also say thay if you are in for getting such a dog, there is no reason to get a likely-to-be unhealthy Dogue when a perfectly fine (in every way) Pit Bull is likely to fit your needs, be free at the local pound, and look great on a leash. In the end, of course, with either dog you will have to shoulder the phenomenal responsibility of excercise, socialization and training. As I noted here >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-it-time-to-dump-bulldog.html most people are not willing to do that, which is why they gravitate to unfit-for-function English Bulldogs. And, of course, a lot of people lie to themselves (and others) about the nature of Pit Bulls and the responsibility of dog ownership.