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Categories: Basic Obedience

Q. All of the trainers in my area are purely positive clicker trainers. This is resulting in a lot of problem dogs. I find it so frustrating, what can I do?
Hi Ed,

I'm a trainer/certified behaviorist in Virginia. I've been training dogs by the good old "German Methods" for years, since that is where I'm from. The way I deal with my dogs and attempted to deal with clients dogs with behavioral problems seem to be almost identical.

The reason I'm writing you is because I'm finding myself in a lose-lose situation. In the DC Metro area, everyone seems to have been brainwashed and wanting to do "positive reinforcement" as they call it only ...which of course is clicker training, bribing a dog constantly with food, not enforcing any groundwork and ignoring a dogs bad behavior. I'm about to lose my shit (pardon my language).

Of course they come to me once their dogs are screwed up and want me to fix it. However, at this point they are badly brainwashed, I manage to start formal training with them and their dogs. We even do what we call the "foundation session" during which we cover all important aspects of groundwork, trying to fit it into an hour long session.

Now for the tough part: Clients are simply not willing to correct their dogs, assert themselves as pack leaders and our training school is made out to be the school of "bad asses". It is becoming a rather frequent occurrence that I send dog owners on their after 3 lessons because they're not doing their homework and refuse to accept change. I do not feel that they deserve nor appreciate my knowledge and experience and that I shouldn't waste my time with individuals that are too selfish to really change anything to help their dogs.

I refuse to change my methods just to please 80% of dog owners in this area that want to "fix" their dogs with more modern methods as they like to call it.

My question to you is, do you come across many clients like that? How do you deal with them?

I'm very frustrated. Unfortunately, my business is not limited to working dogs. I find that owners of working dogs and/or herding dogs are much more willing to adapt. I don't like for my reputation to be the hard ass that can fix almost everyone's dog but they will have to be "harsh" and put prong collars on their dogs.

I would greatly appreciate your input. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.

A. You would be advised to learn to sell your services a little differently. The basic method of training is to go through a learning phase where the dog is either going to learn the meaning of the exercise through the use of food or toys or handler praise – then the distraction and correction phase.

In the learning phase you would be advised to learn to use MARKER TRAINING. Read my article on MARKER TRAINING.

Marker training is the same as clicker training, only you use your voice rather than a clicker. Then you explain the need for distraction and corrections.

This will point out the lack of understanding of basic dog training that these strict clicker trainers miss
  
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