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How to protect your dog from bad animal behavior professionals

Who doesn't want the best for their family? Billions of dollars annually swirl around the pet care industry. We love our dogs and include them as family members. It's easy to see why more dog-related businesses are started each year. 

Miss Basic Obedience Class Graduate - SFSPCA 2005

I know that my big dog in the city needed a few skills to successfully navigate life here. When we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, Cleo's adoption fees included a series of basic obedience training classes. It was during one of these valuable sessions that I learned about the fabulous Jean Donaldson, founder of The Academy of Dog Trainers. Recently on Facebook one of Jean's students, Cory Cordes, wrote a post that immediately caught my eye.
Be Informed. Ask Questions.

What caught my eye was Cory's succient way of sharing that in the animal training world, anyone can hang a shingle and start a practice. This means that anyone can say they are a dog trainer or behaviorist even if they are unqualified. Just because someone sounds like they know what they are talking about when it comes to dogs and behavior, or training methods, doesn't mean they are right.

Be informed before you invest time, money or your dog. In Cory's words...

You are entitled to full information before consenting to any training or behavior modification procedure.

The animal training industry is completely unregulated and anyone can call themselves an animal behavior professional in spite of having no formal education or qualifications. So what can consumers do to protect themselves?

Start with these questions:

  • Ask for formal education and credentials.
  • Ask for continuing education involvement.
  • Ask for scientific evidence supporting any claims about behavior.
  • Ask what actual physical events will be used to motivate your animal (keep asking if you receive obfuscating answers such as “energy,” “leadership,” “status” or “dominance”). For example, ask, “What exactly will happen to my dog if he gets it right? And what exactly will happen to my dog if he gets it wrong?”
  • Ask what side effects each procedure has. Fear is a particularly concerning side effect as it is difficult to undo.
  • If you feel at all uncomfortable, don't be bullied: get another opinion.

Learn more about Cory Cordes and Animal Learning Solutions.

Ask questions and do your homework. Be informed.

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