Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Veterinary Bunko About Dog Training



Going to a vet for a behavior issue with a dog is a bit like going to a law mower mechanic for advice on how to shampoo a carpet.

Vets are not the beginning or end all of dogs. Most veterinarians know little or nothing about nutrition, breed-genetics, or dog training.

To put a point on it:  Going to a vet for a behavior issue with a dog is a bit like going to a law mower mechanic for advice on how to shampoo a carpet; if they know anything at all, it's just an accident.

All of this by way of introduction to the fact that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has just put out a publication called "Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines." In that publication they say

More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.

Yes. Excellent. And what do vets know about it and what are they saying?

And here is where we come to the nonsense.

Under no circumstances should aggression or any condition involving a clinical diagnosis be referred to a trainer for primary treatment. Referral to a dog trainer is appropriate for normal but undesired behaviors (e.g., jumping on people), unruly behaviors (e.g., pulling on leash), and teaching basic manners.

Eh? A dog with "aggression" issues (whatever that is as it is undefined and would likely include all kinds of leash-reactivity, fear, etc.) should never be taken to a dog trainer? Never?? Then, pray tell, who should see this dog other than a vet with a blue solution?

Behavior cases can be complex, often involving public health and safety issues. Board-certified veterinary behaviorists (diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, www.dacvb.org) are specifically trained and qualified to treat clinical behavior problems in companion animals. Referral to a veterinary behaviorist may be recommended in cases involving self-injury, aggression, multiple concurrent behavioral diagnoses, profound phobias, or for patients not responding to conventional treatment despite the primary care veterinarian’s best efforts. Dogs either inflicting deep bites or those injuring immunocompromised individuals should be referred to a specialist. Under no circumstances should aggression or any condition involving a clinical diagnosis be referred to a trainer for primary treatment. Referral to a dog trainer is appropriate for normal but undesired behaviors (e.g., jumping on people), unruly behaviors (e.g., pulling on leash), and teaching basic manners.

So, the ONLY person that can help you with your dog is a certified veterinary behaviorist who is diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists?

Fantastic.

Because, you see, according to the DACVB web site, there are only 66 such people in the entire world.

Let me say it now:  Bunko and bullshit.

This country is full of very good dog trainers using a wide variety of techniques. The notion that there is only one way to train a problem dog, and that you need a Veterinary Behaviorist to do it, is complete nonsense.

If you are a good dog trainer, stop by the local vets and explain what you do and how you do it.

If you are a veterinarian, make it part of your job to learn about dog trainers in your area, and what they can do (being very attentive to what it is your customers actually need, which will vary).

As for the notion that there are  less than 100 people in the world that can deal with a problem dog, let's call "shenanigans" and remember exactly what kind of bunko outfit the American Animal Hospital Association really is.

These are pill-pushers and price-gougers, upcoders, and bill padders. Their modus operandi is to write guidelines for over-prescribing, and then to sell the very prescriptions that they have just suggested.

Grifters gotta grift, and there is a tremendous amount of  grifting in the veterinary business.  Caveat emptor.

4 comments:

jeffrey thurston said...

Beautiful! "Behaviorists" for animals- eh? Like their brethren scheisters the psychologists- made up science for a made up profession. I used to think aggression was a serious issue- I had read somewhere that any dog who bites a human must die immediately. Having two JRTs has changed that philosophy - they're biters for sure! They express themselves with their teeth. That's not to say that if one of them bit random strangers I wouldn't want to correct it just that I realize that dogs are dogs- they bite sometimes, defecate on the carpet sometimes, eat garbage and feces etc. etc. Our modern world is a grand experiment in the total weakening of of us here in the "civilized" world- fatter, stupider, and more gullible to the scheisters who prey on us...

Nell Hunter said...

I was pointed to this blog by Pedigree Dogs Exposed as a useful resource, with sensible info and a healthily amusing slant ...and wasn't she right! I have to admit that i don't read every post every day, but I did this one. Spot on on all counts. Thank you!

Viatecio said...

And this is why I refuse to get a VTS in behavior, despite everyone's thinking due to my interest in the field and my skills with training.

Reading appointment notes from patient sessions with behavioristas is comparable to eating glass shards and then saying I just need Pepcid for the terrible heartburn. Diagnoses and dogma abound, in addition to detailed notes--but absolutely NOTHING about training, expectations, goals, management strategies and teaching the dog right/wrong, good/bad, correct/incorrect. It's a sad state. And these specialists charge premium dollars to boot.

Just keep popping the Prozac, Paxil, trazadone, amitriptyline and whatnot to your dogs...they'll get better eventually...clicked to death, restrained by whiz-bang anti-[insert bad behavior here] devices and on-leash their whole lives. I feel sorry for those dogs.

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
Their dog training doesn't appeal to me for reasons too long to cite here but I have to admire the way behaviorists have seized control of the training conversation. Donald Trumps of dog training.

Donald McCaig