An Example of Canine Illiteracy

A typical display of trainer illiteracy occurred when I was introducing a new staff member to the world of group training. There were ten dogs and owners in the class. An Akita, approximately ten months old, was taking his owner, a tiny woman, around the ring like a child dragging a pull-toy. The trainer was losing patience as the disruptions evolved into playful leaps at the other dogs. The owner was instructed to jerk the dog away from the "students.” The womans' exhaustive efforts were tugs and yanks, instead of clean, effective corrections which don't require any of her limited strength.


The more frustrated everyone became with this errant pupil, the more wild and purposeful became his lunges. I could even hear him growl as he flew through the air at a Golden Retriever. The trainer, unable to continue the lesson, bellowed "Cuff him under the chin!" I saw the first sock in the jaw and said out loud, "That dog is going to bite her if she keeps that up." No sooner did I say those words than the dog whirled around, knocked down his owner, and bit her on the leg. The husband, who was warming himself in the cab of his truck, jumped out, ran to his wife, took the leash, and continued the lesson. The wife sheepishly staggered back to the truck.


What did the dog learn? He learned that every time he gets near another dog, his owner gets angry and something negative happens to himself. The other dog ends up accepting the brunt of this mis-association. Now you have a dog fighter on your hands. And you call this socialization? Additionally, the Akita learned all he has to do is knock down that puny brunette and bite her to get her out of the way. All of this took place while the "trainer" stood watching the whole fiasco. She did not have one word of advice to give about the incident.


©  Shannon Schaefer