"If something seems too good to be true, it usually is."
I've seen a wide array of videos lately from trainers professing "miracle" results within a matter of minutes with dogs who have various behavioral issues. Now, they may not use the word miracle but the whole 'point' of the video is to show these tremendous results in a very short period of time. Additionally, they often mention other trainers have failed this dog in a type of "Look what I can do..." manner. Or as a testament as to why their methods “work" and others do not. This then becomes a battle for or against use of aversive/negative reinforcement or positive only. "This is why positive only doesn't work in real life..." while the dog in the prong collar sits quietly while a dog being lured with treats fails or reaches threshold and barks or "look what all those collar corrections did..." when the dog arrives fearful.
As a business, we must sell ourselves as does any business. Our process, skills, experience, etc. However if integrity and results are truly valuable to you - why wouldn't you value long term results? Why would you take to bashing other trainers and methods? To most every day pet owners things seem all well and good. They don't typically notice the issues with this "quick fix" training as they see instant results and are immediately satisfied. We are after all in a day and age where extra importance is placed on quick results. There are times where it can be imperative to see relatively quick results in order to help keep the dog in the home but more often than not - these “quick fixes” are more often than not - unnecessary and impractical. The dog is the one who suffers in the end.
For those of us that work in the behavior field and train along side these people… we know there is no ‘quick’ fix. Weeks or months down the line after your customers have gone on their merry way and your "quick fix" often begins to wear off… Other trainers are left to pick up the pieces with a much more difficult dog and you then become the one who failed the dog. It’s a vicious cycle, no puns intended. The other sad and often unmentioned part of this cycle, is for the dogs who it does not “wear off” because the dog has now learned to just stop reacting. Instead, you now have owners who have a false sense of security in their animal and often take them into situations they just aren’t ready for. (I will explain further towards the end).
Every dog is different and of course, should be evaluated as such. While some cases are easier than others - I will say this having worked on both sides of the fence:
Just because you can shut a dog down & teach it to avoid does NOT equate to the animal learning the social skills necessary to interact or engage in every day life. Teaching one but not the other is a disservice to the animal and your clients. Learned helplessness is real and if it is a term you are unfamiliar with, I urge you to catch up quickly. Whether the dog is fearfully reacting, has had a lack of boundaries/instruction/communication, is genetically a wreck, or is proactively challenging people/other dogs, etc… there are certain behaviors that need to be taught in place of these responses in order for the dog to move forward positively.
A missing link many seem to forget is although a dog may stop physically exhibiting the signs, does not mean they ‘feel’ different internally. Only through further training, time, experience, exposure and proofing do we confirm these thoughts. They cannot speak for themselves to tell us in the moment (if only) so how is it you magically 'know' this issue is solved? If you have not walked the steps I just listed, you don't know. It's an assumption. And we all know how safe those are to make in regards to animals and their behavior. It's not about positive or negative, both can be effective, it's about the quality of the trainer and their ability to evaluate the animal and their behavior continuously throughout their time with the dog. There is no blanket method that covers every behavior, temperament type, or situation successfully.
It is never professional to bash another trainer or method of training. It is certainly not professional to film or take pictures of people having difficulty or doing something that doesn’t work. They certainly will be too embarrassed to come to you when/if they decide to give another method a shot. I don’t care how much someone may have antagonized you for your use of a prong collar, I assure you I’ve received just as many “treat training doesn’t work” remarks while working my dog as I have negative remarks on my use of prongs or slip leads.
I do see a lot of trainers finding a happy “medium” to all of these methods and I do believe this to be the answer. However, I still see a ton of bashing and just have to wonder - why? Isn’t this about the dogs? Let your methods, experience, and skills speak for themselves.