Beyond Shock Collars and Being Connected

Christmas 2010

All too well we know of many dogs` continuing connection to the receiving end of a shock collar. Not the best confidence booster in the world, is it?  However, this blog is less about the evils of shock collars, (as evil as they are) and more about the connections one gains in the world of positive dog training. Nothing equals the pleasure (well almost nothing) of being able to use those connections to make life better for dogs.  Shock collars will not magically disappear without ongoing intervention of determined individuals spreading the good word. Often it is one dog, one person at a time. In a recent discussion with facebook colleague Tony Cruse, he hoped, with his positive methods, to influence the widespread use of shock collars on farms neighboring those of a client.

Connections: a new client recently found her way to me via a network of connections.  Teaching joyful and consistent recalls is one of my favorite skills to teach and I was SO pleased that these clients turned down “shock therapy.”  A prior trainer was ready to strap a shock collar onto a sweet loveable doofy lab/boxer mix (and I say doofy in the most affectionate way) so the clients could “be alpha” over their dog and regain the upper hand. I was actually in the home to see the other family dog with submissive urination issues, but the shock topic came forward at the end of the evening. I look forward to returning and working with the dog who escaped a shocking experience.

Unfortunately, a dog from a local rescue did not escape shock therapy for resource guarding. The outcome was less than desirable and a rescue rep contacted me for the clients of the adopted dog, wanting positive trainer referrals for a specific location. Quite happily, I was able to direct my contact accordingly, with referrals for trainers in that area. I love that I am able to do this! Oh, and I was able to assist Facebook friend Mary Wilson Blanton with referrals for a state by state search of positive trainers. Following are sites I would send anyone to, guaranteeing positive on my three labbies.

  • PEACEABLE PAWS : Pat Miller, noted Instructor of Trainers, casts a wide web of influence, with students coming to her Internships from many states. Come to think of it, I need to get on the website myself to update my own PMCT (Pat Miller Certified Trainer) information! Someone not quite close enough? Contact them anyways as the dog training world is closely connected, and they may well know of a colleague in your area.
  • TRULY DOG FRIENDLY : As the name might suggest, membership to this list is predicated by a commitment to do no harm in the name of dog training. Often I have referred folks in this direction to the state by state search on the website. As above, someone in a neighboring state may have information for your own area. Awhile back, using this site, I was able to find a  trainer for my Dogster pal of old, Aggie in Florida, by contacting a trainer who knew of another trainer.
  • MID ATLANTIC ASSOCIATION of PROFESSIONAL POSITIVE PET TRAINERS : ( or MAAPPPT, even M2A3PT as we have dubbed this mouthful) Spearheaded by Pat Miller, this growing group of positive trainers encompasses the North East Atlantic area, and probably even beyond by now. Membership is available to trainers who avow themselves as dedicated to positive and force free training. This is the list I turned to for my rescue contact. I believe there is now an organized list of members by state as well; often I am lazy and throw out an inquiry to the group email, which is [email protected] 

As I often like to say, one can never have too many connections. My facebook and TWITTER connections continue to grow. Of the former, shock collar conversations always crop up, often from a comment made by somebody. Such was a recent post by September Morn, to the effect of “most hunting dogs are born wearing a shock collar.” Truly, there are very few hunting dogs trained positively, but here is yet another connection in my large but closely connected dog training world, that of JIM BARRY The latter, along with Mary Emmen and Susan Smith co-authored Positive Gun Dogs, the first book on positive methods for sporting dogs in the U.S. A.   Going back to facebook again, there is a new and growing group of positive trainers here http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/home.php?sk=group_157817144256915&ap=1  as well, with lively discussions always going on. The process of getting connected has been fascinating and immensely useful to my career and continuing to build MY BUSINESS in Maryland.

Are we connected? I sure hope so, and in the meantime, perhaps you may be able to use one of these connections to help turn the tide of shock collar training. Do feel free to contact me with suggestions for other positive training websites I have not mentioned. Surely, there are more out there; these are merely ones that came to mind immediately.

Until next time, Leslie and the Labbies