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Balanced Dog Trainer vs Force Free Dog Talker

I have been to many seminars held by famous force free trainers and l have read their books and watched many of their videos. l used to believe in using only positive reinforcement a bit more than 20 years ago and l was obsessed with learning their techniques back then.

But l kept noticing something very interesting: these trainers would never hold the leash of a client's aggressive dog and work that dog in front of us. They liked to talk theories and do tricks and obedience commands using treats but that was pretty much all that they were comfortable in doing.

They were not actual dog trainers; they were just dog talkers!

They talked about dog reactivity, they wrote about dog aggression, they made videos about dog anxiety - but they didn't actually work with challenging dogs hands on, not at all.

The turning point for me was when l attended a seminar of a balanced trainer. I was expecting some really unpleasant chaos between the trainer and the dogs. l thought we would see lots of dogs being hit and forcefully pinned down and the place would be full of screaming dogs.

But what l saw really surprised me: l saw a trainer who was able to calmly address the reactivity/aggression issues and produce actual transformation with actual client dogs right in front of our eyes (something l never saw happened in any of the force free seminars).

What l saw was a trainer who was not afraid to hold the leash of the clients' dogs and show us how to solve the problems in real time! I was shocked! I didn't know it could be done because none of the other big name force free trainers l saw had ever even attempted to do anything like that!

And the seminar was given in everyday English instead of some really complicated "scientific" jargons. Dogs were out of control in the beginning but became under control, and all these people were looking really happy and excited. They saw hope, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I saw how dogs could actually be helped, dogs that these force free dog talkers wouldn't even approach, and l saw how such transformation could be achieved in a reasonable time frame (not 5 years from now).

And one of the biggest difference was that while force free dog talkers liked to talk about why reactivity happened and all their complex theories, balanced dog trainers were focusing on how we could actually stop the chaos now so the dogs and their families could enjoy a much happier future together as soon as possible!

Studying behaviour rehab from people who had never actually done it made no sense to me.

Their theories sounded great on paper but logically speaking, if all those theories were indeed true - why didn't they apply them and change these dogs successfully themselves? Why keep euthanizing these dogs instead?

l don't read those books anymore. l don't ask my clients to read them. If you see someone with a lot of alphabets behind their names (eg CCBC-KA), they are usually force free trainers with very similar impractical advice (ie staying under threshold, redirecting with treats, keep isolating the dog, keep avoiding triggers, just be patient and wait forever...).

We learn from the dogs we work with. And we have worked with literally thousands. Not remotely or in a private or group class for an hour a day, but weeks and months 24/7. We sleep with them, we wake up with them, we have dinner with them, we pick up our children from schools with them, we have visitors in our homes with them, we go to the parks with them, we walk the neighborhood with them. We do everything day in and day out with them.

We can see things and sense things that the dog talkers cannot begin to comprehend because they have never been in the trenches.

They talk, and their students talk, and then talk some more. We train, and our students train, and then we keep training, improving, and transforming more and more dogs.

We don't dwell on the "why". We focus on the "how", and we share that knowledge with our students and clients so they can finally have control of the situation. They don't have to feel helpless anymore. They can finally move forward and live a happier life with their dogs - in real life, not just on paper.

The "why" is in the past. The "how" is what leads the dogs and their families to a happier future.

The talkers don't know "how" so they like to talk theories, but we do, and that is the biggest difference between a balanced dog trainer and a force free dog talker.


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