Since the dog training industry is currently unregulated, a small number of key organisations and imminent trainers have attempted to set a stake in the ground with regard to ethics. Proud Of Dog has signed and therefore has agreed to abide by the principles of Emily Larlam’s Progressive Reinforcement Manifesto and our behaviour counsellors are full members of the Pet Professional Guild and agree to abide by its Charter also. Proud Of Dog uses and coaches its clients in force-free and low stress training methods. All of the methods utilised by Proud of Dog are safe for both client and dog to undertake. We will not compromise the safety and welfare of you and your dog.
What we do in behavioural work:
Proud Of Dog coaches its clients in desensitisation and counter conditioning methods and positive reinforcement-based behaviour modification. We use play, food, games and other stress relieving activities, in the presence of what scares the dog or causes the unwanted behaviour, at levels and distances that do not evoke a fear response whilst allowing the dog to make relaxed and appropriate choices - this is empowerment. For dog-dog and dog-human aggression, we also have a pool of assistant people and dogs who we use in set ups. Learning is expedited via set ups, but we also show clients how to use these methods, in everyday life.
Proud Of Dog teaches clients to be benevolent leaders, facilitators and partners with their dogs. We aim to show that, through a modern approach, dogs’ lives need not be controlled to the nth degree, although clearly we teach impulse control where necessary. Specifically, we do not work against the dog’s will and spirit – and certainly we do not break it. We find that when dogs are given the respect and understanding they deserve and some choices in their lives, they are more willing to respond and learning takes places faster. This is because it was enabled - through empowering the dog to make good choices.
What we do not do in training nor in behavioural work:
We understand that clients may be influenced by the drama of TV programmes, with so-called ‘red zone’ dogs. Meeting a dog's aggression with an aggressive human response is not the way to modify behaviour nor to change a dog's emotion in a lasting way, although we understand the 'heat of the moment' can easily evoke that knee jerk reaction from us. That's human nature. However, punishing the behaviour serves only to suppress it, potentially leading to bites without warning. It ruins the human-dog relationship and leaves the underlying bad feelings intact – as well as potentially creating more, due to the unpleasant punishment taking place.
We not use or support the use of the following stressful or punishment-orientated methods/tools which can be or are specifically designed to be aversive (something which hurts, threatens, or scares the dog) include:
- Putting a dog in a situation he/she cannot cope with (over threshold) and then correcting the dog, or flooding
- Leaving or putting a dog in a situation where he/she cannot cope (over threshold) and expecting the dog to choose or remember a different behaviour
- Kicking the dog’s kidney area
- Jabbing the dog in the neck or poking the dog anywhere on his body
- ‘Tssting’ the dog
- Jerking the lead (lead corrections)
- Using slip leads in a manner to cause discomfort and pain
- Choking the dog and cutting off his air supply
- Pinning the dog to the ground
- Spraying water in the dog’s face
- Shaking a can of pebbles at the dog
- Using a choke collar
- Using an ecollar (shock collar)
- Using a prong collar or an inverted studded collar
- Using a head halti to forcefully control the dog
- Physically intimidating the dog by staring down, growling, applying bodily pressure or walking into the dog (if it serves to punish an unwanted behaviour)
- Psychologically intimidating the dog by denying rights to water, food, rest, exercise, play or sleep
- Following ‘rank reduction’ and 'deference' programmes to solve a myriad of behavioural issues, especially if they are based on the pack myth. These programmes are often marketed as gentle but they are potentially psychologically damaging to the dog, difficult for guardians to follow through and are still based on the false and confusing premise that dogs are pack animals and are seeking to undermine us
Nor do we do blame the pet parent for their lack of 'calm assertive energy' or for transmitting stress and tension down the lead to the dog. Both these notions we find completely unhelpful in any case.
Most pet parents do not want to punish their dog’s behaviour. Sometimes, they don’t even know how their beloved companion ended up behaving like they did in the first place. They are confused, upset and frustrated and they just want it to stop and we understand that. Proud Of Dog does not judge or belittle clients. We operate a no-blame policy. We are here to support clients and we take great care in explaining why now is the time to look at modern, force-free methods to make a long-lasting change to their dog’s behaviour.
It's not true, based on current knowledge and understanding, that aggression issues in dogs are due to the now-disproved notion of overall dominance or power struggles between humans and dogs, some sort of lack of respect, lack of rules or discipline, imbalances in the mythical pack status between humans or other dogs, not being a ‘pack leader’, not being a ‘boss’, not being an ‘alpha', or any other outdated and incorrect wolf comparisons. Dogs are not wolves. Nor are they pack animals. They do not see us as dogs. Dominance is not a personality trait and cannot be used to explain problems - and certainly does not give us any clue as to how to solve them. Please see links below for references:
Why won't dominance die? Ryan, David for APBC http://www.apbc.org.uk/articles/why-wont-dominance-die
Is the dog a true pack animal? Angel, Lizzi http://www.caninemind.co.uk/pack.html
Are dogs pack animals? Donaldson, Jean (Jan 2013) http://academyfordogtrainers.com/blog/2013/are-dogs-pack-animals/
Proud Of Dog encourages its clients to seek out the latest information with regard to the social organisation of dogs and the science behind modifying behaviour in an ethical manner. We also encourage pet parents to ask in more detail about exactly what methods are going to be employed on their pet and why, before employing someone. There are interesting and useful links on the Resources page.