Guard Dog Blog

on Livestock Guardian Dogs and small farm life…

How low can we go?


Is it true that most good trainers are not on social media?  If so, that’s a shame.  Mediocre and down-right-crappy ones are flooding the blue sites like it’s store-wide sale day at Target.

Now, I can handle the posts full of self righteousness; that’s what the disconnect buttons are for.  I can handle long winded crappy advice and comments from people who clearly wouldn’t know one end of a dog from the other.  I can handle power trips, over reaching, impossible claims and ridiculous arguments from people who clearly missed their prescription refills.  What I can’t stand is this post from a “dog trainer, canine behaviour therapist and budding researcher” who has completed much higher education than most.  Here’s a small excerpt:

“Behaviour change can be a huge undertaking with Rodge as he has some learning issues. I picked a dog with baggage and knew what I was getting into, but yeah, we don’t undertake a new training project lightly anymore. So I got lazy and let some imperfections slide. Frankly, after 5pm, the last thing I want is to train my own dog. I want to kick back and not think about training until the next day.”

Lazy, much?  I am quite possibly one of the laziest trainers around.  I run a farm and a household (my hubby is gone half the year), raise and care for 4 kids (two with significant physical disabilities), own multiple dogs (including working ones) and I still somehow manage to teach my dogs to get off the couch when I ask and to refrain from jumping on people.   My dogs are not perfect by far (just ask my neighbor) but if they get in someone’s purse, I sure as hell am going to apologize.

Rodge is this certified trainer’s dog.  Rodge is also very overweight if the picture in the post is to be believed – and according to his owner, suffers from “cognitive dysfunction syndrome”.  It was unclear from my brief, yet heated conversation with her whether the dog has always suffered from this or whether it’s a new diagnosis, perhaps to explain his random barking.  He will apparently have his eyes tested (which was my first thought, reading the description of his new behaviour), which seems like it would be something to have done before bringing in the big guns guised in VB clothing.

The author comments regarding Rodge’s difficult past in the post and mentioned that he “had an incredibly long list of problems when I got him”.  Hmmm.  None of the rest of the trainers or consultants I’ve known have had that experience EVER.  If we did, certainly it would be reason to not be able to teach our dogs to get off the couch or stop jumping on people when we ask.   Since we only use treats to coerce behavior, our dogs are all fat as well.  I get it – the training was not enough to overcome their supremely large issues they acquired before they got to us.

Except usually it is.

I have a LOT of trainer friends who would be mortified to be lumped in with this celebration of mediocrity.  They would be the first to say that not all issues can be fixed and that SA, extreme phobias, some forms of aggression among other things are often beyond difficult to modify.  But getting off the couch?  Whining through meals?  Jumping on people?  Really.  Try to spin that to them and they’ll have you upside down and inside out before you can say Rover.  They have worked hard to have their dogs under control and often times against the most incredible odds.  What they haven’t done is put limitations on their training.  It all doesn’t have to come out of a bait bag or a toy box.

This post contains no pictures and is full of mean, mean comments.  I get it, it’s not fun and it’s not nice.  You know what else isn’t nice or fun?   Fat dogs on medication who end up being euthed because some over educated, under qualified prick decided they knew it all.

Ok, one picture.  For the uncomfortable people.






Let’s get real people.  The only ones who pay for our excuses are the dogs and the people around us.  In a structure where results are not prioritized, where methods are the ONLY thing that matters, where welfare is used as a smokescreen for wishy washy laziness – it takes guts to stand out.  Fortunately, it doesn’t take much else but a little hard work, a dash of skill, and a wee bit of creativity.

Happy training!


Author: offleash

Small farmer, student of canine life, advocate, dog rehab and behavior specialist.

3 thoughts on “How low can we go?

  1. You are so eloquent so often-I am hoping this is a blip. I just read what you wrote about judgements ( and then read this. What the other blogger had to say was honest about her journey with her dog. It may not be the journey you would take, and it may not be how you would participate, but I am stunned that the thoughtful person who could write about people doing the best they can with what they have would slam a colleague based on her having a lot of academic education and getting burned out with her dog. I am reading her blog as someone who thought she knew what it was to get a troubled dog, and found out that there is a lot more to it when you live it 24/7, not as someone who is incompetent. I am a very accommplished dog behaviour consultant, with certifications, ribbons earned with troubled dogs I have fixed and thousands of clients with successes under my belt. I also live with two studs who would kill one another, and the solution I have chosen due to their ages, health and other factors in my life is to manage the situation and live with it. Does that render me incompetent in your eyes? Perhaps a day will come when you meet the dog you cannot help, who lives in your own home.

    And for the record….a dog with serious cognitive impairments may not remember to not get on the couch. Being a better trainer won’t change the fact that the brain may not be working properly.

  2. Wow…someone sure thinks highly of themselves. Sounds like you may have forgotten your prescription refills. What certification do you have that gives you the right to judge how others do things? Please enlighten us all.

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