Consider the Source

Consider the Source
Pamela Dennison (c) 2016

Okay, this is a bit of a rant…sorry…In this day and age of the internet, where the speed of gleaning information is more prized than accuracy, people also want everything for free – from free training, free advice, free, free, free. We’ve all done it at times – asked people on facebook, “what to do?”

I think the proper question should be “who can recommend a good, positive trainer in my area?”

Not only am I seeing people listening to horrendous training advice, but I’m also seeing many people, in a quest for more free, free, free, ask the most unlikely people for even more free dog training advice.

They will ask the gardener, the hairdresser, the neighbor down the block, the complete stranger, the person who watches reality TV shows that have absolutely nothing to do with reality, the person who happens to work at a pet store, their gynecologist, the carpenter, and unfortunately (for the dog), often heed that (mostly) horrific advice. It can sometimes be difficult finding what’s true, in our day and age where a wealth of information is on the web and tv… and much of it is false.

Now, I understand that “free” is alluring however, would you ask your mechanic for a haircut? Would you ask your medical doctor to fix your car? What makes you think that the dog training advice you get from a non-professional is worth taking?

I had a wonderful puppy come to me for training and he was making lightning speed progress. About week 4, the owner shows up with a prong on the puppy. I asked her why she was using that barbaric equipment, especially since the pup didn’t need it and she knew how opposed I am to that kind of tool. Her response, “My hairdresser recommended it.” No lie.

If a doctor gives you a diagnosis, most of us will seek a second or third option to confirm that it’s valid and to see if there are other alternatives available to us. On the other hand, how often have we heard a well meaning friend offer up a “diagnosis” based on their so called experience or what they read on the web, and it was totally off-base.

A truly wise person doesn’t accept what they hear from a lay person as gospel truth, without digging deeper to check its validity.

Seriously, I’m asking, because I truly don’t understand the reasoning behind asking a non-professional for advice and actually taking it. Why is it easier to believe someone’s anecdotal experience than it is to listen and act upon compelling evidence? Why do we actually trust a complete stranger before we’ll believe someone with years of education?

Please, before you ask a non-professional for advice, ask yourself these questions:

What kind of qualifications and knowledge does this person have about dogs?
Do they just own a dog?
Do they think they are a dog trainer because they’ve watch a show on TV? (that would make me an MD because I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy, so now I’m open to giving out medical advice)
Are they a self proclaimed “dog trainer” (without any kind of education behind them?)

If you’re already working with a trainer, why, like the client I had, would you listen to someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about?

Please, think first before you ask the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker for advice on a topic they know nothing about. Such advice can oftentimes lead you to a much more serious issue than you already have.

If you’re looking for a good trainer, one that has years of continuing education and training under their belts, feel free to check out these websites;

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (
Pet Professional Guild (

Be sure to also see my article on how to find a trainer. Click here.

Posted in General, Blog.