A Dog Died Today. Because of a Trainer.

Or trainers. I can't clearly put this in any one person's lap.

Let's back up and see where we are. First off, I am not going to identify the trainer(s), the dog, or the family. My purpose is not to belittle or attack anyone. Instead I want this to be a learning experience for other trainers and a warning to owners.

The dog was.....let's call it (not as a thing "it", but as a "I'm not telling you any more details 'it'") Stat-as in short for the statistic he/she/her/him/it became. Stat was a dog rescued from a municipal animal control facility by a foster family. Stat was initially a friendly, accepting dog. Needed a bit of socialization, but a generally good dog that needed a home and a few manners. saddog Stat was with the foster family for a bit, then on to what should have been Stat's forever home. Sadly, about 8 months later, there was a serious change in the new family's situation and Stat came back to the fosters. Stat was a little bit put off, but then settled back in to the foster home.

Stat was an exuberant dog that the fosters felt needed a bit of structure, a few manners, to make Stat more permanently adoptable. So they looked online, searched the area, and found what looked like a reputable trainer. There was a cool website. There were testimonials. There were nice pictures. There was a list of things the person(s) involved had done that sounded good. There were no certifications, but the owners never knew there were such things for dog trainers.

So they called and sent Stat off for "residential training". The stay was supposed to be two weeks. The trainer called, and two weeks turned into two months to "fix some issues" that had come up.

The follow up instructions were essentially "here is your dog, here is an electronic collar. If Stat misbehaves just use the collar. If Stat gives you any problem, turn the collar up."

The fosters told me that the first thing they notice when Stat came home was the dead look. Stat's eyes just didn't seem to sparkle any more. Stat was more responsive and minded well, but something wasn't right. Stat wasn't as much fun.

Stat still gave them a few problems. Now Stat had become visibly reactive to dogs, animals, and humans. Stat barked and lunged. Sit and down were fine, but walks were becoming an ordeal. The wife, a small framed woman, was concerned she couldn't hold Stat if something "went wrong".

So they called in other trainers. A total of five, including the first one. And their answer was always "if there are any problems, just turn up the collar." All five were full on e-collar trainers, and not one of them proposed any other possible solution.

The family began blaming themselves. Stat was an absolute love in the house with them, but if anyone entered the house or even came into the yard Stat became more and more visibly agitated. Walking became an impossibility due to the reactivity and increasingly aggressive displays. One day the male foster parent was walking Stat when a person passed in the other direction. The man had placed Stat on his right as the oncomer passed to the left for security, but Stat lunged across the foster and tried to bite the passerby, nicking him slightly.

At this point the fosters called a friend who runs a local rescue. They were looking for professional help that could solve their problems,not make them worse. The rescue person had them call straight away.

I was in Texas on three different cases. I spoke to them, told them I would try and help, and arranged to meet them when I got back. The three Texas cases bled into a case in New York city, but today I finally connected and met Stat.

I started by discussing the issues with the fosters out in the front yard. In order to try and not make Stat anxious with a strange person in the house (something they identified as particularly an issue-they had not been able to have company in some time) Stat came out to meet me. I kept my body position neutral, angled, voice soft, not meeting eyes. I let Stat come and close the distance between us. I extended a closed hand out to sniff, with a tiny piece of treat between two knuckles so Stat could sniff and get a reward. And he bit me. Hard. In the hand. Full engagement, top and bottom, with moderate force.

And that was just the first bite. Four more times Stat bit me. All except the one to the pants leg from behind were full Level 4 bites, full engagement, not as much strength as possible but definitely not holding much back.

No, I am not in the hospital. Remember how I have preached about protective gear? Today it was the difference between a rough day and a crisis. Kevlar gloves, a Kevlar sleeve, and the Kevlar combo pants that I developed with a manufacturer (more on that later...for now we return to Stat.).

Every time Stat engaged I saw the warnings but they were subtle and fast. Zero to ninety in less than a second. Each time I was relatively neutral, not challenging, and trying to make friends. And every time, right after the bite, Stat sat there chattering teeth and drooling.

Stat was afraid. Mortally afraid. Not cowering, but sitting and chattering, waiting for the hammer to drop and for pain to arrive.

The fosters and I talked quite a long while. The fosters were dedicated, but were out of their depth. Stat was great with them, but was terrified of others, and instead of reverting to the fly part of fight or fly, Stat had learned that there was no fly option. Stat had been treated with aversive methods so often in the past where anyone could be a threat at any time. Threats never had a consistent look to Stat-they were anyone not the fosters. A passing pedestrian. A friendly stranger. Next possibly a child with no awareness-or no manners.

The fosters and I had a long, hard talk. I kept trying to softly make contact. Stat would take treats easily, confidently, sitting looking like the world's most friendly dog. And then suddenly the storm hit and there was a strong, dedicated bite. Again.

Stat was clearly dangerous. Stat had lost the ability to cope without violence-or had that ability purged under fire. Stat had been taken from a personable dog that just needed a bit of guidance to a dog into whom violence had been burned. I am usually very slow to recommend death as an option for a dog with even severe behavior problems, but in this case it was up front and center.

After talking over all the options the fosters decided, and I concurred, that Stat was a danger with a limited prognosis of recovery. Stat had been broken. The only reasonable option was to put Stat down. The fosters contacted the local Vet and Stat was taken by the people Stat trusted and could safely interact with to the Vet's office to be escorted on to another life. At least this procedure was done gently, respectfully, and every measure was taken so that Stat did not die in fear.

Could Stat have been saved? In a perfect world, I would give a solid--maybe. Stat had been mistreated enough that extensive behavior work over a long period of time would have been required.  The rehabilitator in Stat's case would have had to be truly skilled, patient, and willing to risk injury on a daily basis for an unknown period of time. With no guarantee of success, or of even moderation of the problem biting.

Could Stat have gone to a sanctuary somewhere? Maybe. Given funds, resources, and a proper place with room. Stat still would have had to be isolated, kept in a kennel, limited in contact with others, maybe forever. I don't see that as a positive quality of life for a social creature that deserves a permanent loving home. (To give an example, I have personally seen one such facility where a dog was kept for years. The dog was truly dangerous, had no chance of recovery, and the keepers had to maintain the dog in a kennel with absolutely no direct human or dog contact. They drugged the dog every three months so they could clean the large kennel run, wash the dog, trim its nails, and give it any needed medications. Otherwise they could only shove food and water under the kennel bars. That is NOT the way I think a dog should live.).

Can I absolutely state that any one of the previous five trainers caused this? No, I can't point a clear finger. All five were force/aversive based trainers. Obviously none of them were the right trainer. None of them seem to have understood the principles of using scientifically valid methods. I am not going to share who they were. That is not my place.

I will warn owners of a couple concerns. When picking a trainer make sure that they are willing to discuss their training methods and give you clear reasons why they choose a particular tool, especially if it is even remotely aversive. A trainer should not have any "secret techniques" or things that they cannot or will not do in front of you. They should have more than a single set of tools in their toolbox of training techniques. If their answer to problems is just "Turn it Up" then RUN. The other direction. And above all, if they do anything that makes you remotely uncomfortable, find someone else.


I mention above that Stat bit me hard several times. That happens sometimes, and I am never happy about it. Most often it shows that I have messed up. Bite scars are not medals of honor.

That is why I use protective gear. Folks have asked me what I use, so here is the current kit.

The first part of my arsenal is a pair of pants that Andrew Kater and the folks at ACES (Animal Care Equipment and Services) developed for me. They are a mix of Kevlar and magic (or some other fabric, I'm not sure which) that go on over your regular pants and look for all the world like a pair of rain pants. They aren't scary or look like a bite suit for training protection dogs. They have an elastic waist with built in belt and zips to get over your boots. They even have pockets. Here they are:

jim stella pants-1

Obviously the four-legged model is cuter. Please note that this is not the dog I've written about in this article.

Now here is a look at the bite to my leg that would have been a serious Level 4 had the pants not taken the punishment:  IMG_0611As you can see there was only a little abrasion and minor scratching through the pants, but no puncture. You feel all the pressure since they are not padded. The bite hurts, but the teeth don't come through. I am not saying that these will stop everything and anything, but they certainly do work. They come in a couple sizes and are comfortable to wear. They are no where near as hot or bulky as a full set of bite gear. And you would NOT want to use these for protection dog training as they are NOT designed for that. But for protection while training or evaluating dogs in comfort and safety, I'm happy.

The pants can be ordered from www.animal-care.com, Animal Care Equipment and Services. They are $98.50 a pair. They don't seem to have been added to the online catalog yet, but just call and speak to Chama Gomez at 1-800-338-2237 ext 101. Ask her for my pants. Unworn.

In the above photo I am also wearing the Kevlar lined leather gloves that ACES sells. This model is called the Humaniac Deluxe Duty Gloves. They are tight (which I want so I can manipulate dog, lead, and tools) and are thin enough that you can feel what you are doing. They are $45.00 a pair and come in sizes. My fairly big hands take a large.

The sleeve you can see poking out from under my jacket above are made by BiteBuster and can be purchased from their website at bitebuster.com or through ACES. They fit over your hands and forearms, with a double layer over the palm of your hand giving even more protection-and a thumb loop so they can't pull back and leave your wrist exposed. They are called the Armadillo Arm Sleeves and run between $25 and $30 depending on size.

And disclosure: neither of these fine folks have paid me for this. They did give me samples to work with because I won't support something that doesn't work for me personally.

Read more about canine aggression issues on my blog. 

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Positively Expert: Jim Crosby

Jim Crosby is a retired Police Lieutenant who has become an expert in canine aggression, dog bites, and is a Certified Behavior Consultant. Besides being an expert on canine forensics, Jim is proud to be a member of the VSPDT team.


47 thoughts on “A Dog Died Today. Because of a Trainer.

  1. Vicki Guntley

    What a sad story, poor dog. if only you could "name & shame" these so called dog trainers that are responsible, but understandably that's not what the story is about. I wish that everyone could realise that the only fair and kind way to train a dog out of bad habits is through positive training. I'm no expert, in fact not at all, I have had my rescue from the age of 10 months, she is now 4 & the only way I have ever tried to train her is through positive methods....we have both learnt a lot, but all in a good way. The type of trainers you have described are nothing more than animal abusers as far as I'm concerned, no better than back yard breeders, puppy mill owners & those that use dogs for fighting. When will they realise having a loving, caring dog (or any animal) in your life is a blessing...not a money making machine!!

  2. Kristy Graham

    So basically, this was written to slam ecollar users and advertise bite resistant pants. yeah, that gains my confidence. Not.

  3. Mattie Parsons

    I have seen a dog similar to this one, again trained using an electronic collar, he was dangerous and if he got the chance he would have killed. He wasn't like that the first few times I met him, he snuggled up to me on the sofa, after the electronic collar was used he was a different dog, he ended up nearly killing an experienced dog handler and put him in hospital. I don't understand people who want to control their dogs like that, if they want that sort of control they should get a remote control dog like the cars and aeroplanes that people play with and not use a living, breathing, feeling animal.

  4. valdel

    I don't need to buy pants, but honestly I think the trainers should be named for the next people needing a trainers so they won't take "a friendly, accepting dog needing a bit of socialization and a few manners, " to the wrong trainers and end up with a "clearly dangerous dog who loses the ability to cope without violence." Those who know but say nothing aren't helping. There's probably a group of clientele who are keeping the same secret and whoever broke this dog needs to be stopped.

  5. Lesly Ogden

    If all you got out of this was a slam against electric collar users and an advertisement for bite resistant pants, you missed the entire point of the story. To a more observant reader, this was written to warn against aversion dog training and reliance on electric collars, as they (harmfully) condition rather than teach or affirm good behavior. It was written to illustrate what happens when a dog isn't trained correctly or humanely. They are in a constant state of fear and often resort to violence. The bite resistant pants are for those who are interested in what he uses, since they obviously did their job.

  6. ghost

    E collars are not the problem, they can be very effective when used correctly. But like any tool it can be abused. Some dogs, especially pitbulls who already show some kind of aggression, should never have an e collar used. That being said this dog could have lived had anyone wanted to put forth the effort to retrain him and resocialize him. Yes it would've taken months or years but when you love an animal it is worth it. Many rescue organizations that will knowingly take in any dog with aggression issues will tell you it is possible to retrain them with time and knowledgeable trainers. Look at Villialobos, they take in fighting dogs and get them to be good pets. Its hard but can be done.

  7. Kristy Graham

    Actually I have a dog that was trained on an ecollar and he's perfectly happy. (He also passed his CGC without the collar). The problem isn't the collar it's the people using them. But i have seen MANY articles on this site slamming anything that isn't in line with their training methods. I have also seen dogs that were EXACTLY like this one without ever having an ecollar put on them, and funny that, my ecollar trainers saved one of them and she lives a perfectly happy life with multiple dogs now. Without an ecollar. No one method works for ALL dogs, but that isn't what these trainers would have you believe. And yes, writing a story about a dog that was euthanized and tacking a sales pitch on the end is gross in my opinion (which I'm still entitled too).

  8. Cat in CT

    Such a sad, sad story. For myself, I wouldn't trust "residential placement" for dog training. So much of the training is for the human(s), not the dog. Dogs rarely need "fixing", but, rather, their humans need to learn how to interact with the dog.

  9. WarriorPitbull

    It's not irresponsible, there's no link of using e-collars to violent dogs. There are many e-collar trained dogs living happily with other dogs. There is no scientific/forensic way to prove the other trainers were the cause of the personality shift in Stat. If he were to try to name and blame the other trainers, he would be putting himself in the position to be sued for slander/defamation. You'r irrational emotionalism trying to blame him for killing dogs is ridiculous. You sound unstable.

  10. riverdivine

    Please do name the trainers. It is IMPORTANT to get these individuals out of business so that no more dogs are harmed by their ignorance and violence. Why protect these people? They do not deserve protection or respect, as they have given none to these dog victims.
    By naming these people, it will bring more media attention on e-collars as a sadistic devices which create horrific, destructive, and permanent behavioral and emotional damage to innocent dogs. Perhaps you were brought to this dog, this sad story, to use your visibility and influence to further highlight the dangers of dime a dozen 'trainers', and the criminality of using instruments of torture on a dog in the pursuit of making them 'obey'. These products MUST be outlawed, and those who use them should be called out for exactly who they are.

  11. MindfullyLiving

    Well, here in Myrtle Beach, SC, we have Rick Kaplan of Canine Angels, who hides behind the shield of training service dogs for veterans. He laughingly purchases the E-Collars at Outdoor World, has the dog carry the box in it's mouth up to the cash registers, and finds that amusing. You would be HORRIFIED, over his written justification of using them. The only way to stop this from continuing, is to RAISE THE PUBLIC AWARENESS and call these people out Jim Crosby. That is the only way. I am very upset to read this story but thank you for taking the time to tell it.

  12. rrpjr

    I'm calling this out as BS. If you can't name the trainer, why should I buy it? Otherwise this is just another kind of McCarthyism, attempting to associate one trainer (imaginary for all we know) with an entire school of training (which by the way, I see in action every day with e-collars helping and saving dogs, many abandoned to shelters by the PP movement which didn't have a clue what to do when their food treats failed).

  13. Lola The Pitty

    This is so disappointing. Thank you for sharing the story of "Stat" and hopefully this will help change some minds about what trainers/methods to use. Also, thanks for sharing in such a responsible way.

  14. Magdalene Otto

    I would never hand my dog over to a trainer without being there and watching his methods, and that would be before I would allow him/her to work with my animals. Shipping them off is done, but I don't like it.

  15. Stefanie

    I consistently tell people to "never" send their dog off for training... they need to learn to work with their own dog... also..I work with dogs like this one on a regular basis.... I would never have approached him and held out my hand , just given his history and im sure he was showing signs of stress... Check out the BAT system of training... I have found it very effective in training reactive dogs due to abuse or any other reason... if you push them beyond their threshold you can count on a bite.... counter conditioning over time works wonders.... poor guy...

  16. Mlvalentino

    It's unfortunate for your dog that you need to rely on aversive methods for it to behave. I've trained dogs for more than 8 years and have never had to resort to using force or negative methods. Positive training, can work on every dog. It's science, it works the way they are hard wired. So while different techniques may need to be applied, the METHOD still works. For all dogs assuming they have not already been ruined by a fool as Stat had. Dominance alpha training is old news and not relevant to dog training anymore. Time to step out of the box and educate yourself.

  17. Jaclyn Womack

    When a trainer's first and sometimes only tool, is an e-collar, you should run. There are instances when they are warranted, but they should never be the default. If a trainer's FIRST condition to train your dog is to buy an e-collar, especially if they haven't even done an evaluation or met your dog yet and, yes, I've seen it - RUN the other way.

  18. ghost

    Anytime a trainer recommends anything before actually meeting your dog that should be a red flag. Also when the trainer doesn't include you the owner that should be a red flag. I tried literally everything possible with my dog and the e collar was the only thing that worked. He didn't give a crap about food or toys when another dog was around, the only thing I could use to get him to stop focusing on other dogs was the e collar. It got to the point I didn't need to shock him just use the beeping noise and it would redirect his attention back to me. When used correctly, and not as your first option, they are great tools.

  19. ghost

    Thank you. This trainer kept pushing the dog to bite. They could have saved this dog if this final trainer actually knew whatthey were doing. The fact that he will only work with his bite proof clothes shows you he's not a good trainer. I've seen many trainers work with aggressive dogs and not need to use those and have never been seriously bitten or injured. He pushes the dogs to bite, that's why he wears bite proof clothing

  20. ghost

    Did you not read everything, they no longer need to use the collar and the dog even passed his CGC without it, if you don't know what CGC is then you shouldn't be commenting on an article about dog training. And positive reinforcement doesn't always work. My dog would react towards other dogs and he didn't care if I had food or his favorite toy. The only thing that made him stop was the e collar. It didn't take long for him to learn and eventually I didn't need to shock him, I just used the beeping noise and it worked great. I agree they shouldn't be your first option but they are an option that can work for different dogs and when used correctly

  21. ghost

    I used an e collar and shocked myself with all the settings before putting it on my dog, I was curious and didn't want to use something that would hurt him. The kind I bought didn't go that high, I could put it on the inside of my wrist and be fine, so I used it and it worked. It was the kind that had multiple shock settings and a beeping noise. I eventually stopped using the shock and just used the noise and he was fine. Not all e collars are the same and not all dogs should use e collars. These "foster parents" should be held liable since they decided to ship their dog off to some trainer without at least meeting them, talking to them, seeing their facility, or seeing their training methods first hand. They never should've had the dog to begin with.

  22. Me

    Yeah, it's a real huge problem when that's the kind of advice you get from so-called professional trainers. And WHY are they giving that advice? Because that's all they know how to do AND because there's no reason in the world why they can't get away with it.

    All they know how to do is suppress and create robots. They see a dog, and they seek to dictate utter and complete control over another living being. It makes one feel powerful, I'd imagine.

    It's time this field was regulated. We need to follow Germany's example and vet trainers for competency. For a lot of trainers, they're ignorant of the science and research, as WELL as the theory behind behavior, and think any education is a joke and a waste of time. Shows you how much they care about the clients' and the dogs' well fair.

  23. Rubi Dillard

    I completely agree,these people are clearly responsible for the
    way the dog turned out and the trainers(if you can even call them
    that)should be named so that no one else takes their dog to them.One can
    only hope that since their names were not mentioned and the name of the
    training facility was not mentioned,that they were at least turned in
    for their treatment of the animals and were shut down.It is extremely
    sad that that dog had been broken so badly that he had to be put
    down,and the trainers should suffer the consequences of their actions.

  24. jldavidson321

    They all used ecollars. In my opinion, you should always start with positive reinforcement, be involved in the training yourself as opposed to board and train, and give it time to work. If positive doesn't work, and you feel you must use aversion it has to be done right. Always give the dog a warning before any negative reinforcement so they have an opportunity to avoid it.(the fight or fly he was talking about - give them a chance to fly) I'm not a big fan of ecollars but if they have a warning tone that precedes a shock and are used properly I think they can be humane and effective on some dog. Some dogs are too skittish for that though and it causes too much emotional trauma. When I was looking for a training class for my dog, I went and observed the classes available, without my dog, to chose the one I thought would be best for him.I would always recommend observing a session with a trainer before hiring them. At the very least have a discussion about their methods. Would you drop your kid off with a total stranger for a tutoring session?

  25. Ruby Williams

    The dog in this post lived a nightmare. He was passed around from person to person to do with as they wished.. In a case like this, do we have the moral right to be silent? The torture and abject fear that dog lived for months is so haunting to think about that I can't imagine why we would not be desperate to warn others.

    I say this because I have felt like a coward for not wanting to endure the backlash from righteous people who feel we need to coach everything in language that never appears to judge or take a stand in order to remain 'professional'. Judging is what we all do and how we assess the world and those in it. It is how we arrive at better choices. No doubt it is dangerous to point fingers and yell witch when we don't have the facts. But to name the various trainers this owner hired who caused this dog to go from joyous to vicious would be a fact. And that would be all that would need to be said; The first trainer the pet owner hired is————-, etc. A trainer who admittedly uses shock collars. This is their modus operandi Stating that simple fact is important for people to know. People can think for themselves. No doubt, there will always be misguided or vindictive people who have an axe to grind who spread stories that may be exaggerated or false. That is what slander laws are for. They are not for stating true facts such as naming any of the five trainers hired by this pet owner.

    The article itself is fact as the writer knows of a frightened dog suffering extreme mental anguish and fear. A dog that is so mentally and physically tormented he became a shell of the joyous dog he once was. I only hope the owners of this pet choose not to get another dog. It is difficult to understand how they could have made so many poor choices and were so oblivious to the red flags that must have been there while this dog's condition continued to deteriorate.

  26. Concerned great grandmother

    I have seen horse trainers take a horse that just needed some fine training become either so beaten down that he/she had lost his/her spirit. The previous trainer(s) had made her fall and roll whenever she did not do what the so-called trainer wanted. She learned to fall and roll whenever a rider signaled her to do something she did not want to do. The rider would immediately jump off of her. It was her defensive move. Instead of taking the time to train her with kindness, bull whips and harsh training methods were used. We tried everything to break her of this fall and roll, we never could. She would never be safe to ride. She even was a biter. When a stranger entered her paddock she would be very aggressive charging the stranger, again a protective action to prevent any more pain. We tried for almost a year to rehabilitate her, but could not. With me, she was gentle and loving, for I had never hurt her. She recognized the farrier as her "friend", all others were her enemy. She was a beautiful Paint. We were able to find a person who loved paint horses and realizing she was unridable, would use her as a brood make only.

    It appears that this is what happened to Stat. He trusted his fosters, but for how long I am not sure, as they had offered him love and protection. Now, the fosters were even giving him pain. Anyone new in his life was an adversary. His instinct was to protect himself. He let the stranger know that he/she could give him treats, but the treat was not going to change his attitude of self-protection. I have no idea how he learned the biting defensive action. Evidently it worked. Many dogs will bite out of fear if felt trapped. If there had been group classes available as found at Pets-mart and Petco, the fosters could have taken him there. The fosters would have learned how to handle Stat and Stat would have learned what was unacceptable behaviors without pain and harsh treatment. Stat actually feared strangers and was defensive immediately for it was strangers that hurt him. Stat learned not to trust the hand that fed him. I do not know what unacceptable behaviors Stat had, but personally, I would never leave an animal with a trainer. It is best to train the in a class or have the trainer come to the dog's home. The people with whom the dog lived should do a little research and know when the trainer is using harsh training methods. These trainers took advantage of the fosters' trust and lack of knowledge of training techniques. I do not know if Stat would have ever quit biting, but a basket muzzle would have protected people from his biting and he could still drink water. .

    The only times I have used a shock collar used was to train dogs not to go near any snakes. We live in rattlesnake country. Therefore, for the dogs protection all snakes were a no no.

    When looking for a trainer, obtain a list of all the trainers clients, not a hand picked few who would give positive remarks about the trainer. Be an observer at the dog training classes and observe how the trainer teaches the humans in the dog's life to correct unacceptable behavior and to obey the human's commands. If the trainer goes to client's homes ask if you can watch him/her train the human's dog(s). Many times the trainer has to train the humans in a dog's life as he/she is the cause of unacceptable behavior or the dog not obeying the human's commands.

  27. George

    In the first place, I would never leave my dog with a dog trainer. IMHO, the main job of a trainer is to develop a relationship between a dog and its owners, and you can't do that if half the equation is missing. Anytime a trainer says "just leave him with me for a couple of weeks and I'll fix him," just take your dog and run.

  28. George

    If you slapped your kid every time he did something wrong, or when he didn't do something you asked, he would probably learn, but you wouldn't have a very good relationship with him. There are far, far better methods out there now, that lead to better long term success. Aversive training methods are now outdated, mainly because of unpredictable outcomes like the one Jim described in his article.

  29. George

    Yes, I currently own a rescue dog that never had an e-collar on, but was mis-treated in other ways as a puppy. The problem with aversive training is that unless you apply the correction within about half a second of the behavior, you will be punishing the wrong thing. Most people aren't that fast, or that observant, so the method becomes hit and miss. If you administer positive reinforcement for the wrong action, however, you may not have reinforced the correct behavior, but you at least have focused his attention on you and increased his opinion of you as a good and noble person from whom all good things flow.
    I know which relationship I want to have with my dogs.

  30. WarriorPitbull

    Nah, that's just hypersensitive thinking that discipline causes kids to hate their parents. I was raised by a WWII POW that spared no rod. And for that I'm thankful, he and I shared a very close relationship for my entire life up until he died in 2002. So the idea that discipline causes ill relationships is bunk.

    The problem with kids today is that there is no sever punishment allowed due to liberal sensitivities. They want to coddle and console these kids rather than handing out some tough love. But I digress...

    The whole point is that just as I posted above, I could type it again but you can read it just as easily.

  31. WarriorPitbull

    Did you even read my comment? LOL Yes the dog died, but that has nothing to do with my comment.

  32. grnmtnkate

    Any trainer who uses shock as a way to influence a dog's behavior is NOT a trainer to use.

  33. RedPandemic

    The fact that you 'had' to use an ecollar at all shows you don't understand positive training. I hope ecollars are banned in the US as well as choke and prong.

  34. PremierDogs

    Re: The statement: "There's no link of using e-collars to violent dogs". Based on the words being used, this statement is open to some interpretation:

    Saying "e-collar" could mean a remote-collar that provides either an audible tone, a vibration, a shock, or a combination of tone-then-shock (and perhaps some other variations).

    Based on the assumption that the intended use of the term "e-collar" refers to the use of 'shock' and that the use of the word "violent" refers to an aggressive behavioural reaction in response to an aversive stimulus (of which, the shock from a remote-collar is one example), then yes there is indeed a link.

    To be clear, this isn't to suggest the application of an aversive (such as 'shock') always results in an aggressive behavioural response, because behaviour is too context-specific for there to be a 'golden rule'. Nonetheless, it is well-known and documented that an aggressive response is one possible outcome of using an aversive (of whatever type) when attempting to modify behaviour.

  35. PremierDogs

    One of the things that relates to this article, but the article doesn't touch on specifically, is that "dog training" is a completely unregulated industry. In other words, ANYONE can start up a legal business tomorrow as a "dog trainer" without any qualifications or experience.

    Obviously this puts huge importance on dog owners/guardians to do their due diligence when considering a trainer, especially when behaviour issues are involved. I say this, because, while someone may be really really good at training "obedience" (sits, stays, downs, etc.); it doesn't mean they have the knowledge or experience to properly evaluate and safely modify behaviours such as aggression.

  36. Liz

    Why dont you want to name the stupid " trainer"? They deserve to be attacked by us, Real Animal lovers, not fake ones like the " trainer"! Im so mad now! If you guys want to send your doggie to a trainer, ask to see their certification and from which school they got their certificate. I cant stand animal abusers no more! No animal deserves pain! C'mon, where are the real compassionate people? Thats why, im not trusting so-called trainers. Why cant people do their jobs right/ humanely? A dog has died at Pet Co. ( i think, or PetSmart) in the stores grooming room because of the heat of drying the dog after bathing. Dogs are sensitive, they have feelings too! God, i'll never understand people... I lost faith in this stupid humanity a long time ago... People dont deserve to be on earth... Smh...

  37. TheWhiteHawk

    Rather than put the dog to death, someone should have had the presence of mind to try to contact Cesar Milan (Dog Whisperer). No way would he have allowed the dog to die after being "broken" by stupid humans. How very sad this story is, especially since there IS a person who could have helped that poor dog. SHAME!

  38. MariaWest66

    I think you & your story is full of crap. The only truth to your story is how to promote your pants & dog training gear. You refuse to name dog, trainers, town or country. I think any family would be all over the media if some bastard trainer took there somewhat friendly shelter dog and retrained him into Cujo. This is no different then that scumbag Steve who killed Nitro the rottweiler and his friends by starving them, name the bastards, expose how they "trained" this dog by abusing him and making him scared of people. You owe it to your readers, the owners can be Jane Doe, the dogs name is important because alot of us network & crosspost dogs on facebook, so now I wonder is he one I shared ??

  39. MariaWest66

    Your comment > These "foster parents" should be held liable since they decided to ship
    their dog off to some trainer without at least meeting them, talking to
    them, seeing their facility, or seeing their training methods first
    hand.< news flash, maybe they did & everything seemed fine on the outside. You remember the rottweiler Nitro that was starved by Steve ? 19 dogs were starved to death by his training business & all the owners met him & seen his buildings. heres his story http://www.nitrofoundation.com/our-story.html or maybe this will help you http://www.nbc24.com/news/story.aspx?id=819584#.VDipNVez6Ck

  40. Just Me

    I agree with valdel! My God-it's the same in any profession. Protecting the perpetrator is unconscionable, whether it's a butcher medical doctor or a sadistic dog trainer. The brand of cowardice, in professions that protect their own while allowing them to continue practicing on innocent victims, is dark, indeed, and I am outraged.

  41. Kyla

    I met a dog once who like Stat seemed destined to be euthanized. He was bad as a puppy and just got worse. Part of it must have been the owner who picked a rare breed as she wanted a dog who was aloof. I imagine that since said owner wanted the dog to be aloof she did not socialize him. By the time he was six months old he was hard to deal with. Like stat he learned to bite first ask questions later and bit many trainers with little warning. (unsure about training manner) He was a scared dog when young who became dangerous. He regularly tried to attack children and her ailing father in a wheelchair and bit more trainers. I'm not sure what happened to him in the end but know the only person he did not bite was the owner. I do not know his whole story but find this really sad. When I first met him as a puppy he was shy insecure but willing eventually to come near if you waited and choose to run instead of bite. By 1yr old he would lunge with intent to bite. These stories are always sad.

  42. James Bruce

    I've trained for 39 years and I use collars very sparingly, and I don't recommend them to clients that I feel won't handle them correctly. They can exasperate aggression in dogs that already have a problem.

  43. Nancy

    Those e-collars sound like torture to me. We all know what happens to someone constantly tortured like that. Their SPIRIT becomes broken, then either withdraw from everything or become aggressive to protect oneself.

  44. Me

    A classic case of ill equipped, hammer armed trainers who view every case as just a nail in need of being subdued of any overt, symptomatic behavior without understanding the neurological, psychological, and sometimes medical components at play, how to effect *constructive* behavior modification that *may* (every dog is not "fixable") actually address the underlying issue(s) that doesn't just focus on sweeping the outward symptoms under the rug, and the ethics and liabities involved with this so-called "professional" training.

    This unregulated field of unvetted "professionals" who eschew any formal learning and instead prefer only their cowboy style experience to see them through (the more the dog tests their simplistic knowlege and skill base, the more force is proportionally matched) are a greater liability to all those involved than the few dogs who can't be cowed into subdued robotisim.

    After all, we have domesticated dogs for thousands of years to put up with our whims with nary a complaint. The few dogs who break this pattern are put through hell as they're trying to be broken down into good little robots. Then they meet their end regardless. Who knows how many could actually have been safely brought around had they fallen into capable, qualified hands that were armed with an education and understanding of the complexities of behavior.

    There's a reason why human psychology professionals are educated and carefully trained and vetted. Why the same doesn't apply to the industry of (what can be very dangerous) animal(s) behavior is well beyond me.

  45. Taylor

    I'm sorry but I still don't agree with putting the animal to sleep. Some people are violent, but we no longer have the death penalty. Death is a punishment not a freedom release.

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