“Certified” dog training

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Let’s talk plainly about “Certified” and or “Accredited”dog training.  Over the years I’ve heard of way too many piss-poor, God-awful dog training and behavior modification methods coming directly from genuine “accredited” and “certified” trainers.  The wise dog or puppy owner would NOT let these buzz words fool them because they would understand that all animals don’t give a fig about human organizations and they don’t care whether a person has initials after their name.  The wise person would understand that not all trainers are created equal and that each have differing personalities, differing gifts and talents, differing strengths and weaknesses, and vastly differing levels of experience – which result in different results and experience for their clientele.

If you could glance at my business email inbox you’d see several emails from organizations like the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) or the CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainers) and others wherein they desire to “refer potential new clients” my way in exchange for my coming under/into their organization.  They do this so they can put their initials on my website and so they can grow their organization.  I could easily become “certified” under any number of these made-up “institutions.”

My question…who the heck are they?  What gives them, or almost any organization for that matter, any credence as far as proper animal husbandry and, more specifically, dog language and behavior training goes?  Just because a few people came together, did some paperwork, got a website and sent many emails to try and make money off of many people doesn’t mean in the slightest that they can deliver real world results for dogs and for people!  Did you know that Petsmart has “accredited” training?  People, Petsmart and Petco are the some of the lowest levels of dog training that exist on the earth.

The point of this post…Don’t be fooled by random initials when looking for help with your dog’s behavior instead look at family, friends, and neighbors and talk to them about their dog’s behaviorist or trainer.  Word of mouth is and always will be the absolute best.  Next look at the work the trainer has done.  Examine their website and really read the thing.  Check their philosophy.  After that look at the reviews online and read between the lines because not all reviews are the same either!  There is a massive difference between a raving review about an aggressive dog being transformed into a gentle pooch versus a review about how great the local puppy group class was.  The dog trainer or behaviorist should also have reviews from other professionals in the pet industry (dog daycare owners, vets, groomers, etc).  Pay attention to the details, Friends, or you’ll really pay with your money and your time if you end up hiring a bad trainer or another cookie-cutter behaviorist no matter their level of man-made “certification!”

Am I totally against certification?  No.  In fact, if the organization actually does real work (you know that thing that many folks shun these days) and if they have a great, hard-won reputation for success and for professionalism within the industry it may be something to check out but make no mistake…dogs don’t care about any of this.  They care about touch, space, movement, and energy.  And human clients care about results.  That’s it.

(Here at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we have actually begun certifying qualified individuals in the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior training.  Thus far it’s only been one guy that’s made the cut, my young apprentice, Jesse.  I’m not sending out mass emails and telling people they can become a “certified” or accredited” trainer for just twelve easy payments of $99.00 bucks a month.  Don’t cheapen my art you clowns!

Smiles,

-G

 

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This is a pic of me and my first dog, Bosley, working the bite sleeve many moons ago.

Formal education vs. Self-education

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Thomas Edison only went to three months of school.  During that time his teacher called him, “addled” due to Edison’s mind wandering.  That became the end of his formal education (his mother took over from there)!  This man revolutionized and modernized the entire world!  A prolific inventor, Edison held over 1,093 patents in the US and several others in the UK, France, and Germany.  The Wizard of Menlo Park is credited with almost too many inventions to mention.  “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

 

Henry Ford only had the equivalent of a sixth grade education.  He was known for being obstinate.  Ford helped usher in the creation of the middle class!  He used mass production and the assembly line so well that he lowered the cost of the automobile to make it affordable to the common man.  He literally gave us the weekend!  “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”

 

Andrew Carnegie’s formal education ended after elementary school.  In those days many children would go to work to help support the family and Carnegie was no exception.  He revolutionized how the world developed through the use of steel in bridges, railroads, and skyscrapers.  He literally altered how the planet looks and how we all live our lives.  After selling Carnegie Steel he held the coveted title of world’s richest man.  “The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do.”

 

I could go on and on about the countless amazingly successful, creative, innovative, free-thinking and hard-working individuals who left school or college early to pursue their own dreams and desires and ended up changing the entire world because they pressed on with tireless persistence even with all those doubting, petty, naysayers (many times close family, friends, teachers) blocking their way!  If you have time, it is a very interesting and enlightening study in Forbes -world’s most successful people -seeing how many of the world’s richest men and women forsook the common education of their time for their own bold exploration. I highly suggest checking into it.  I found it shocking how many found self-education through their own business ventures and experiments instead of in the box, run-of-the-mill, standard educations.

“Education will make you a living.  Self-education will make you a fortune.” -Jim Rohn

Today we find many educated idiots…especially in the dog training world!  We live in a world of over-information.  We all have fat heads.  Many of our brains are in desperate need of a good diet!

Did you know you can pay a few hundred bucks and many “pet associations” will happily assign you some reading materials and then give you a certification for dog training?  I even know other “trainers” who received all their training online!  While reading plenty of excellent books is important in studying canine behavior these associations mention volunteering and apprenticing with an established dog training company almost as an aside to getting their pathetic certification!  I think anyone can see they are casting a wide net in order to collect the most amount of cash from the most amount of people.  And as an entrepreneur myself I can see the benefits of casting a wide net but as an honest helper and calm rehabber of dogs it is a horrible method and largely why we have so many poorly trained dogs and even more poorly trained “trainers!”  In reality the apprenticing and the experience of handling several aggressive, fearful, dominant, hyper dogs are the ONLY things that truly matter in actually helping a budding trainer learn to modify a dog’s behavior.  The only certification or qualifications that truly count should be the amazing differences in the problematic dog’s behaviors.  The only thing that should really matter are the Results!

There also is the question of which reading materials these “associations” are suggesting?  Typically they are very biased in their selections and tend towards extremeness instead of more balanced methods.

And I hope everyone is aware that even if someone has years of experience in animal rescue if the rescue is largely run by volunteers (which they all are) then the experience one may receive is largely based on poor techniques and taught by folks who “love dogs” and who are trying their best but don’t really know how to calm, how to correct, how to train, how to rehab real fear or aggression or hyper behavior etc, etc!  Basically even if you have a hundred years of experience training dogs if it is all poor techniques it is a hundred years of helping to mistrain and hurt psychologically more dogs than you actually help!

I’m not trying to be mean here.  I say all this because I see it DAILY.  I hear from my clients constantly how they hired some company or another (or three or four different companies) to fix serious issues in their dogs and still these trainers come out with the same basic “sit, stay, down” for a treat method or occasionally strange new unnatural concepts (such as:  tethering your dog inside your home, or, when folks go for a group class and then -due to their dog’s behaviors- are placed in some cubicle separate and away from the class – just foolish and weird stuff) but clearly methods that do NOT line up with natural calming or with nature’s way or what the older social dog would teach and……. because they are so unnatural they don’t get good results.

No matter what I say, your vets say, your behaviorist says, your trainer says, your groomers say…seek your own answers within your own dog!  Look into nature.  Be super observant.  Always ask yourself…is this what the mother or father dog would do?  How do I calm this behavior out of my dog?  Keep thinking outside the box like Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, et cetera.  You will never regret listening to your own dog for what to do and then making a plan of action.

-G