Saturday, October 24, 2015

Show Me Your Soufflé

Someone posted a video on Facebook. 

The video was of someone I have actually met, and someone I watched do a multi-hour presentation a few weeks ago. A good trainer. A nice man.

The caption on the video said this trainer was "debunking" what another dog man (whom I have also met) has said about dominance.  That would be interesting but in fact, this trainer never mentions or even alludes to the other trainer at all!  Nor does this "debunking" trainer ever define dominance in any way, shape, or form. Nor does the trainer who is supposedly being "debunked" use the term "dominance" in the way suggested.

I fired off a comment noting that the video does NOT say what is being said. The label on the tin has no relationship to what is in the box.

I then asked the person doing the posting whether they had ever read anything ever written by the trainer supposedly being debunked.

Answer: NO.

Now here's the interesting thing. There was no apology for slagging someone this person had never read or met. There was no apology for passing on a lie.

Further questioning revealed that no effort had actually been expended to read or learn anything about either of these dog trainers.

And the bullshit video remained up. 

This is increasingly how it goes in this "Facebook world". It's simply too easy to write a caption and click "share" and pass on pure malarkey.

I mention this because this kind of stuff is not isolated.

Look at the people who opine about e-collars. Just ask them if they own one! Use an e-collar? Good Lord, they don't have to actually own one or use one to be an EXPERT do they?  I mean, just look at their dog leaping up on the kitchen table. Surely that's proof of their dog-training expertise, is it not?

And all e-collars are alike right?  Just ask them if you do not believe it!

And so it goes, down the list.  No they have never used a prong collar, but they are experts on them! They have never used a halter or a slip collar, but they are experts on those too. Just ask them!

I am NOT not a dog trainer. I have said this so often that people seem to get confused.  They think I must be a dog trainer because I say I am not a dog trainer and someone else once described me as one.  Please. NO. I am not a dog trainer.

You see, I KNOW dog trainers. These are not folks who have trained a few puppies to sit-stay for a minute. These folks are REAL dog trainers. These folks are paid a lot of money to train dogs because they are worth it. You want to see what they can do? They can show you with their dogs and with yours.

Please do not confuse the folks at Pet Smart with these folks.

Please do not tell me you are a dog trainer because your Labrador Retriever will jump in the car on command.

If that's your standard, your standard is too damn low.  The fact that you can scramble eggs does not make you a chef. Trust me on this one.

A real dog trainer is not going to tell you
that any tool is wrong. Every tool has its place. There's more than one way to skin a cat -- or train, or rehab, a dog.

You do not see carpenters debating hammers. They may have a preference, based on experience, but if you need a roof put on and insist they use a 9 oz cobbler's hammer instead of a 20 oz claw or framing hammer, they can work with it -- especially if you are going to pay them by the hour!

As Michael Jordan so aptly put it
, "It's not the shoes."

And it's also not about a theory.

That's terrific that someone has a PhD in "ethology" and  they wrote their thesis about communication patterns among Mynah birds.

You say they are ALSO experts in every species of animal communication AND evolution?

Right. Fascinating.

Show me their dogs.

You say they have dog training certificates -- a virtual alphabet soup follows their name?


Show me their dogs. 

Show me what they can do with a leash-reactive Pit Bull.... a phobic Chihuahua... an Irish Setter with separation anxiety... a sheep-worrying Lurcher.... a Sheltie that is a chronic barker.... and two fighting Jack Russell terrier bitches from the same litter.

Now, here's the good news.  Real dog trainers CAN show you what they can do. These folks have entire channels full of YouTube videos, and more and more are loading up live training and Question and Answer sessions on Periscope.

My cell phone pings several times a day with someone doing a new live training session. I watch a few.  Most are not award-winning in terms of production or delivery, but so what?  I am not looking to learn about movie making.  I am looking to learn more about dog training from REAL dog trainers who are better than me. It's a low bar, and at least once a day someone crosses it, and I learn something new.

But am I turning to "ethologists," dog breeders, vet techs, lawyers, or tax men to learn about dog training?  I am not. I am looking to learn from someone who actually trains dogs for a living -- who smells of DOG, rather than theory and lamp oil.

Call me old-fashioned, but I want to learn cooking from someone who has spent at least 10,000 hours behind a stove and who teaches other cooks how to cook. I know how to scramble an egg. I am not looking for someone to tell me there is only one way to crack the shell based on what they were once told by someone else on Facebook.

A real chef can cook on gas or electric, a campfire, or a sterno can.

A real chef can show you his soufflé.


Gammonwood Mastiffs said...

This article is largely about my posting of a video titled, "Michael Ellis on Debunks Millans Views on Dominance".
I would like to apologize for sharing a video that's title was misleading and insulting to another dog trainer. The actual content of the video had nothing to do with its title and it's very unfortunate that it was titled as such. I shared the video because I found it interesting and enjoyable to watch. I'm also interested in the subject of dominance which is the word in the title that grabbed me in to watch it.

I've shared this article by the Terrierman on my video post and posted this comment along with it. I'm posting it here too because it explains why I posted it.

"I better share this one here too since it's about me this time and I don't want to get accused of only sharing the Terrierman's articles that pertain to other people. Just so everyone knows though, I didn't title the video and I have no idea who did title it. I shared it because I enjoyed the content of the video ( which had nothing to do with its title). I've only ever watched a few of Ceasar Millans shows and I enjoyed them. He's certainly a much better trainer than I am and there is much to be learned from people who have a natural talent for training dogs, especially problematic dogs. I haven't taken down this post because some good comments and articles have been shared on it, some which rightly vindicate Ceasar Millan. The article that Dave Parsons shared, Dominance- Making Sense of the Nonsense, attempts to define dominance and is a particularly good read. I learned a lot about dominance from it. I hope others did as well."
Jen Willshire

PBurns said...

No worries. Jen. It's just that Ellis is a very good trainer and has something to say, though you have to listen carefully as he does not always define his terms and slides around a bit. Millan is a rehabber and he too does not define his terms and, in fact, has a tendency to slide into California-speak. Layered on top of that is someone who made this video who added a caption that is a complete lie.

This post is about the larger problem on the internet, and with dogs in general, which is that people are a bit too quick to claim expertise they do not have and to slag other people based on their own ignorance, inexperience, and arrogance. I've seen another good example of that this morning -- someone also mentioned in this post lecturing a person she has not met about dogs she has not seen about techniques she knows nothing about. It's comical.

Ah well. It's raining out, but not too bad, and we might yet get a day or a few hours in of hunting. We'll see. The end of one season and the start of another -- anything could happen on a day like today.

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,

There are any number of people setting up shop as "herding" trainers. When a novice asks me how to evaluate a trainer I've never met I say, "Has he ever won an open sheepdog trial? If the answer is 'no' grab your wallet and run."

Donald McCaig

Gammonwood Mastiffs said...

Patrick, I can't stop the flow of personal opinions, phony information or bad advice on the internet but I can work harder at not spreading false truths myself.
I understand that people don't always express themselves wonderfully and I'm sure the video wasn't the best presentation Michael Ellis has given. Its good to know that you know more about him and do think highly of him.

I hope you got in a good day out. The season change overs are too nice to miss.
Jen Willshire