This has been sitting as a draft for several weeks. I've been fearful of publishing it, for a variety of reasons.
I might be the only one who has noticed this, but I don't write about training. I write about my dogs' behavior on occasion, but not training. Why is this?
Short story-my dogs are dicks.
Seriously. And for this reason, I refuse to pass judgement on the behavior of other dogs or the training methods of their owners. For the most part.
For the record, I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement. But I am NOT a huge fan of dogs being euthanized because, for whatever reason, they did not respond in the necessary ways to positive reinforcement.
None of my dogs are capable of loose-leash walking. Not that I haven't tried. Neeko went through three different series of strictly positive reinforcement classes, each one eight weeks long. Bruce has worked with three different positive reinforcement trainers, including an eight week basic obedience class, to the tune of nearly $1000. Faolan has had one on one sessions with two different trainers, each costing me over $100. I have worked exhaustively with each of them.
But I have to be able to control my dogs when on leash. Neeko wears a Gentle Leader. Faolan wears an Easy Walk. And Bruce wears a prong collar.
Yes, I put a prong on my dog. He is uncontrollable otherwise. I have yet to meet anyone (including the three trainers) who were able to control him with a flat collar, head collar, or any kind of harness. I don't issue corrections. He self-corrects with it. Guess what? He gets super excited when he sees it, and rushes up to have it put on him, because he knows he is going for a walk or a car ride somewhere.
Neeko and Faolan are good out in public. For the most part. But they are also stubborn, strong, and headstrong. They don't go anywhere without a full treat pouch on my waist. I bribe my dogs all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Neeko occasionally bitch barks at other dogs. Faolan will occasionally try to jump on people. Does this make them bad dogs? No. Does it make me a bad "trainer?" Maybe.
Bruce doesn't get to go anywhere except for the vet and occasionally DQ. He is 90+ lbs of unpredictable muscle.
I could write an entire post about a fairly well-known trainer whom I know personally who has dogs sent to him from all over the country with severe behavioral issues. He is their last chance. He "fixes" many of them. Sometimes he uses prongs, and sometimes he has to use E-collars. I do not judge him.
All three of my dogs know plenty of behaviors. Sit, shake, high five, double high five, wait, watch me, down, bang, treat on paw/impulse control, etc. However, they only perform them if the reward is worth it to them, and there isn't something more interesting than me around.
My dogs resource guard. From each other. From me. They have killed chickens, guinea fowl, rabbits. They are incredibly vocal. (Read-loud barkers/howlers/talkers.) They jump on the front window, the fence, the furniture, the doors. Sometimes they counter surf. They are pushy, demanding jerks.
So when I see a dog pulling on it's leash, barking, walking it's owner, getting a bit excited or having a meltdown, I refuse to pass judgement. I've been there, done that.
There's the motorcycle wave, the jeep wave, I even think there is a Subaru wave. Us people with dogs that are occasionally out of control need a wave too. A show of unity, solidarity. A "Hey, I know what you're dealing with, and it's ok" wave. A "my dog is a dick, too" wave.Now for my conditional clause. I will judge you (but not your dog) if you put a fearful, anxious, or aggressive dog in a situation in which you cannot control it, and the dog is at risk of harming itself, a person, or another dog.
My name is Rebekah, and my dogs are big, strong, and occasionally jerks. But I am able to control them. They are also happy, healthy, loved, and well-cared for.