Yes, I Was An Abusive Dog Trainer
Do you subscribe to The Whole Dog Journal?
It's an amazing publication! The Whole Dog Journal is one of the two things that helped me change from being a force/punishment trainer to being a gentle/positive trainer.
Now, please keep in mind, I've been training dogs since I was a kid, in 4H, and back then... and for years and years after, force/punishment training (intimidation, "corrections" and jerking dogs around by the necks with choke chains and worse, which is INHERENTLY ABUSIVE) was all we knew.
I learned abusive methods at age 16, in 4H, with my first dog, Tasha.
Back then, it was all we knew.
Of course, there are still trainers today who abuse dogs (one of them being National Geographic's "The Dog Whisperer,") but most trainers are better educated now.
Click here to read more about my transformation...
And fortunately, most pet owners won't tolerate it.
Some don't know any better and allow trainers to practice these methods on their dogs but others do their research and make sure they keep their dogs away from trainers who would handle them cruelly.
Punishment training can be a tragedy for a dog as it can kill his self-confidence and joy for working, especially if he has a "soft" temperament.
I competed in obedience trials over the years with several of my dogs, using "old-school" intimidation, "corrections" and jerk and pull methods, and in the mid-90's, I discovered agility. Going to agility classes and being instructed by gentle trainers, and working with gentle handlers opened up a whole new world for me on how to train my dog.
I'm what's called a "crossover trainer," meaning that I used to use abusive methods and I switched over to positive, gentle methods.
But you know what? It took me a couple of years to really understand it and be able to practice it 100 percent. And I mean a couple of years. It is a total mindset: "I am going to MAKE that dog do what I want."
It took awhile for me to understand that I didn't have to rough up my dog to get her to do what I wanted, and that if I handled her humanely, she would "gladly" do as I asked.
So, for me, there was a gradual progression as I started to get more and more positive and less and less punitive.
It feels so ugly to me to even be writing this.
Actually, I'm starting to cry right now because I'm thinking about the day that I finally, finally "got it" totally, and without question, and when I realized what I had done to my dogs over the years, intimidating them, "correcting" them and jerking them around, I couldn't stop crying.
Well, the other thing that helped me see the light, back in the mid-90's, is The Whole Dog Journal. This publication has an amazing training editor, Pat Miller. She taught me so much through her writing!
Another HUGE thing the Whole Dog Journal did was teach me how to PROPERLY feed a dog. Before they educated me, I fed my dogs "dog food" that contained grains, chief among them rice, which is not a natural food for dogs and is simply filler to make "dog food" cheaper.
Anyway - I invite you all to take a peek at this great publication and think about subscribing so you can get free daily tips on the best food, care and training for your pup. Want to check out the WDJ on Facebook? Click here. I see several promo codes available, so be sure to Google for that.
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