This post was written by my friend and fellow dog training Ted Efthymiadis. The original can be seen by clicking here
“Loving” A Dog To Death
I’m seeing a disturbing trend in the pet dog world. Something I never thought I would see. I truly wish I did not have to write this blog post. Unfortunately I can no longer sit back and watch what it happening without voicing my concerns, and doing what I can to prevent injuries and deaths to dogs and people. This information may seem over-the-top and dramatic, but it’s what I see in my line of work every week.
Tyler Muto is a dog trainer located in Buffalo New York, who is a friend of mine. In my opinion he is one of the best dog trainers in North America at rehabilitating reactive and aggressive dogs. He is someone I have looked up to for many years in the dog training world. His business is absolutely thriving, he has five full-time dog trainers working for him, does plenty of boarding and grooming, and does seminars around the country. Recently while on a radio show, he described something very negative that is happening to dogs in his area. Several local animal shelters in his area have taken measures to try and hurt his business.
I’m not worried about his business as he’s extremely busy and amazing at what he does. I am however worried about the local dogs in his area that need homes. Several shelters in his area have taken it upon themselves, to not allow dogs to be adopted if they think the dogs will be trained by Tyler and his company when they are put into a home.
Now to me this is wrong on so many different levels it blows my mind. The most alarming part of this is that they have actually taken it one step further. They are no longer allowing dogs to be adopted into homes if they think that the dogs will go to see a veterinarian that refers business to Tyler.
Upon hearing this information I was not really shocked because realistically it happens here in Nova Scotia every day. Not to mention in every major city in North America.
The dog training world is so massively divided that any type of pressure or correction in training a dog it is absolutely seen as abusive. Dogs are denied homes across North America because they could potentially see a trainer that may or may not utilize correction in his or her’s dog training program. Considering we have far too many dogs in NY and NS sitting in shelters and rescue organizations including foster homes who need homes, this seems to be a very negative thing for the dogs who need homes.
Millions of dogs in the USA and Canada are killed every year because of lack of space in shelters. When did we as a society become so against correction, that we will allow dogs to live in a small enclosure, or killed, rather than to be trained by qualified professional trainers who are more than able to fix these dogs behavioural problems and aggression issues. I see nothing other than ego in people making decisions like this based on emotion.
I have people calling me wanting to sign up to training whether it be obedience training, aggression rehab, or puppy training, and when I ask where they are adopting a dog from, I have to tell them that unfortunately you cannot work with me because some shelters will deny your application will be denied.
Again I have no issue with this affecting Tyler’s business or even my own business. Do what they wish to effect our business, but both Tyler and I are very passionate about helping dogs, and especially dogs with behavioural issues or aggressive issues. Considering rehabilitate more reactive and aggressive dogs than anyone else in Nova Scotia, you would think that these policy makers would be making it easier, not harder if they honestly had the dogs best interest at heart.
It’s really very sickening that dogs are sitting in shelters at this very moment, denied adoption because of ones choice in Veterinarians, or dog trainers. Ego is a terrible thing when it overtakes a person who holds power to make change for dogs. Tyler and I have hundreds of amazing life changing testimonials and videos to prove how we positively change dogs lives everyday. Not to mentions thousands of happy clients and dogs. My stomach is seriously sick.
Recently a friend of mine called me from a local shelter and wanted to set up some puppy training because they were adopting a puppy and the shelter makes it mandatory for some dogs to have training by an approved (pure positive only) trainer. Unfortunately I had to tell them not to use my name as I am not in the good books with that shelter without reason. They were incredibly furious over the situation reluctantly signed up to another trainers program because of intimidation. They almost did not adopt the puppy because they were outraged. What makes that situation so disturbing is that my puppy programs are food/marker training based programs. The situation gets more interesting, as several of the employees and staff of that shelter are my clients who have not told management for fear of being let go.
Several months ago I had a lady and her husband come into my facility for an evaluation. As the lady was walking down my driveway her dog was so bad on the leash she actually pulled the lady over upon entering my facility and she fell on her hands and knees and dropped the leash. After her husband lovingly helped to pick her up it was brought to my attention that she was five months pregnant. I asked the couple when they had last walked the dog, they replied “months ago, the last time I walked her she pulled the leash out of my hand, attacked another dog and in the process pulled me down to the ground.” Realizing the severity of the situation I asked her how she would feel about using a prong collar on her dog. If you’re not familiar with the prong collar is a collar that mimics the bite of a mother dog and can be an amazing tool for dogs with pulling issues. She told me that she works at a local shelter and she would not be willing to use a prong collar on her dog for any reason because she was concerned about what the other staff would say. I asked her if she had tried other techniques or tools. She told me that she had tried many other tools with very limited results. She told me she was not willing to use a gentle leader on her dog because she felt that her dog did not like walking with it on. I asked her if she would be willing to give me five minutes of her time with the dog. She and her husband were reluctant to allow me to use a pinch collar on their dog. They agreed. Within five minutes I was able to walk their dog with two fingers on the leash and no pulling issues. (With no corrections by the way.) I handed the leash over to the husband first and he remarked how amazingly effective the tool was, how the dog was still happy and how the dog was not being hurt in the process. The wife was next she was also able to walk the dog without an issue. She was less enthusiastic. Upon returning to the facility I suggested using this tool for leash walking because I was concerned about the safety of the unborn baby that she was carrying. I asked her a very pointed question. ” Was your dog harmed in the last five minutes that we did the leash walking with the pinch collar? ” She said “no”. I asked her why she was reluctant if that was the case. Her honesty astounded me. She was reluctant because for two reasons: 1: She didn’t want the other shelter staff to find out. 2: She thought a normal buckle collar would be the most loving tool to use for walking her dog. I looked both of them in the eyes and told them that they were putting the life of their unborn child in jeopardy because of their egos. They walked out of my facility never to be heard from again.
About a year ago I was walking in a local park with my dogs off leash. I met a lady with a young golden retriever puppy who was nine months old at the time. As we were walking down the path together with our dogs she ran towards her dog and started yelling “no no no no no!” She got a hold of her dog and pulled something out of her dog’s mouth. She then let her dog go off leash once again as she began to tell me about some of the troubles she was having with this dog. At nine months of age this dog had already had two very dangerous surgeries to extract large objects from the dogs stomach. Each surgery cost her $3000. I suggested to her that she prevent this from happening again or utilize some training to stop her dog from eating objects while on walks. Unfortunately she shrugged off the advice like she knew better than me. Her next comment absolutely astounded me. ” It only happens once every few months” She said. I told her that I was not in anyway concerned over the fact that she already paid $6000 to get objects taken out of her dog stomach. I was however concerned that her dog could have died in the process because such surgeries are extremely dangerous and anytime a dog is put under the knife it has a chance of not waking up. Again she shrugged off the information like she knew better than me. She said she was not interested in putting the time into training, so I suggested that she keep her dog on a leash so that that would not happen again. Again she brushed off my advice.
The above stories may seem a little extreme. Unfortunately as I reflect, I have countless stories just like these. People are deciding that the freedom of a dog to do whatever it wants is more beneficial than the safety of a dog’s life or a persons life. This is not a reflection on the Pure Positive trainers.
Please don’t see it as an attack on them because it absolutely is not. It is however a wake up call for those people unwilling to restrict the freedom of a dog to save it’s life. The safety of an unborn child Is being put in jeopardy because of a parents ego. And dogs are sitting in shelters without homes this Christmas because potential adopters could potentially use a trainer or veterinarian that a person in a position of power does not agree with. May someone reading this blog advocate for family safety, a dogs safety and the dogs waiting for homes across North America.