Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nothing Good Starts with a Lie

Frame intentionally cut from video in order to misrepresent or lie.

Someone sent me a picture and a link to a Facebook page of someone in Australia who claims to be a dog trainer.

The picture is, as seen above, and the screed that followed (now removed) was how horrible e-collars were.  Apparently the fact that this was a small dog had this woman very upset.

It was very clear to me that this person had never actually seen or used an e-collar, but I also wanted to see the video this was clearly clipped from.  I posted to her Facebook  page, and guess what?  My request  was removed within an hour.  I posted the question again, and this time someone else chimed in and sent me to this link.

Full disclosure:  I know nothing about "Off Leash K9 Training in Northern Virginia."  Never met them, seen an ad, or been to their place. Nothing.

Which is to say I was very curious to see what horror this woman had seen.  I have actually seen some bad stuff, so I braced myself for the worst.  Instead, I got this:




Really?  This is some horror show?  I don't think so.  Yes, the way the coat is trimmed is a crime, (call the Fashion Police) but I suspect that's not the trainer's doing.

I wrote the woman a note which follows.  Trying to start off nice, I thanked her for posting the link, though it turns out it was someone else who did that;

Thanks for posting the link to the e-collar trainer in Virginia. I do not know him, but it seems to me that your still picture was taken out of context.

Do you own any sort of e-collar? I have been around dogs for over 50 years and have trained a few. I mention this not because it suggests I have any expertise, but to say that the issues with e-collars are a little more subtle than either the "for" or "against" crowd suggest.

For starters, there are a number of kinds of e-collars and they do different things. The old "buster" collars used for invisible fence and breaking dogs off of running deer or sheep, work for that very limited purpose. That said, I quite AGREE that they are are NOT regular dog training tools, and they are generally not being sold as such. This is technology that is decades old, and has a limited (but important) use.

About 20 years ago, a series of e-collars were created that have 5-7 levels of stimulation. I do not consider these very useful training tools. At the very lowest setting they can be used to "proof" an off-leash recall (a very useful thing!) but they are not a full-tilt training tool.

The modern e-collars, however, are a very different thing.

These have 100-levels of stimulation, and neither you nor I can feel a collar set at 10 or 12.

A working level for a dog is so low (I use levels 4 or 5 with my terriers) that there is not the slightest evidence they even feel the collar other than to look my way or snap out of their attention deficit disorder. This is not a "shock," but well and truly a "tap on the shoulder".

I have trained multiple breeds using a lot of different tools over the years, and the modern e-collar is not only the most gentle method of training a dog, but it also offers the best timing under a wide variety of situations, both on leash and off.

Again, I do not know the person in the video, but it appears he is using an E-collar Technologies collar, which is a very good piece of kit. I have used the same collar to train my 10- and 12- pound dogs, and I assure you there is no "force" or "shock". The collars do a very gentle tap that is far gentler than the slightest tug with a flat collar.

Let me say that I am happy with however folks want to train their dogs.

Dogs are very plastic, and most training systems work if the trainer is consistent enough and your standards are low enough.

That said, honesty is not a lesser value, and the screen shot you took of this trainer's video was wrapped in pretty inflammatory text. Having now seen the video, I can say your post was a lie and a slander. And there was no need for that. Train your dogs however, you want, and explain and SHOW the world what you can do. No need to use an e-collar if you don't want to. That said, if you get an opportunity, buy or borrow a modern e-collar so you can see for yourself why things are not as black and white as both sides suggest. I think if you actually owned a modern e-collar and worked with one for a few hours, you would become a convert. I too was skeptical based on experience with the older models of collars, but these new ones are an entirely different kettle of fish!

And guess what I got back?  A stream of virulent "text talk"

Piss off!!
I chose that pic as it was zoomed in n showed a tiny yorkie wearing an ecollar
Yall should b ashamed of yourselves!
U cannot tell me that the ecollar on that tiny yorkie was the last resort
If that guy can't train a yorkie without using an ecollar .. dude needs to get a new career
I don't give a shit how much marketing his had
Or how big the chain is.. I love n care about animals
My videos r better because I use dog training.. Been training dogs since I was 8!!!
U have no idea
The person who put an ecollar on a yorkie is a bloody idiot..
Don't message again
I didn't read your first message
So don't bother sending another

She then followed on with about 30 more lines of crazy-angry text.  Apparently she is the greatest dog trainer in the world, which would be a wee bit more believable if her company Facebook page had a real human name attached to it. It doesn't, so far as I can tell.

Question:  Would you want this person near your dog? I have to say I would not.  Nor would I sign any sort of business contract with her. Her still-shot from the video was intentionally clipped to misrepresent. You can see that for yourself. Another word for an intentional misrepresentation is a lie.

If a person will lie about a little thing, in an unforced situation, will they lie about a big thing if actual money or work is on the line?  That's the way to bet.

Setting aside the lie, the emotional volatility of this person is disturbing. Would I trust her to keep her anger in check around an animal?

I have to say I would not. 

So what's my point?  

Simple. The world is full of liars and near-hysterics ginning up all kinds of controversy for no other reason than it's a cheap way for them to get attention while presenting themselves to the world as experts, saviors, or people standing on a particularly tall bit of moral high ground.

The world of dog training is no different. Honest men and women have real names, and sensible people tend to under-sell and over-deliver. They tend not to fly off the handle too quickly.

I said in a post some years back, if someone presents themselves as THE expert in dog training, and tells you that everything that everyone else is doing is entirely wrong, you should RUN (not walk!) in the opposite direction.

 Nothing good starts with a lie. 

6 comments:

jeffrey thurston said...

Just bought my first e-collar on reading your blog all these months. I have two dogs- one a sweetie- the other a pill. The pill's gonna get the e-collar and hopefully he'll start walking nice and not fighting the other guy on our walks. These animals are dogs- among the toughest creatures alive! I don't even fathom the controversy. BTW- I trust your judgement on dogs- I cured "the pill" using your Monistat/Cephalexin treatment for itching and he's a furry beauty now. Thanks seriously for your good canine advice.- Jeff

Katherine Vooys-McDonald said...

Great post. Too many people using lies to further their own agenda. One can only hope that Joe Public sees through it.

charlie said...

Love this! "So what's my point?

Simple. The world is full of liars and near-hysterics ginning up all kinds of controversy for no other reason than it's a cheap way for them to get attention while presenting themselves to the world as experts, saviors, or people standing on a particularly tall bit of moral high ground.

The world of dog training is no different.
Honest men and women have real names,
and sensible people tend to under-sell and over-deliver.
They tend not to fly off the handle too quickly."
Keep up the great work!
Exactly!

jeffrey thurston said...

"Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head." Kipling got it- the dog doesn't really care...

Unknown said...

I know that trainer.... OMG... I am so angry someone who do that to him who know nothing about him. I have nothing but respect for this for this gentleman and his skills as a trainer. Incredible, just incredible!

Endless Surprises SD said...

I had a dog that was perfect in every way except when my young son was standing at the door. She would plow him and run outside. I was worried she would get hit on the county highway we bordered. It finally came down to buying an e-collar. A couple of quick hits when she ran at the door, and she knew the game was up. The next trick was to run off when let outside for bathroom breaks. She'd stop at the top of the hill, look back, and run. Again, a couple of times with the collar, and the behavior stopped. This crazy dog eventually got drafted as my first Service Dog. But it took a couple of lessons that couldn't be taught any other way for her to have 100% recall.