Dog Training Consumer Rights

Dog Training Consumer Rights

Our society is filled with intelligent, thoughtful people….until an expert comes along, then we fall apart in abject wonder.  Consumer Rights help protect people from charlatans and those who mislead.  Dog Training Consumer rights appear to be weak compared to other established corners of the market.

Consider a thought experiment:  Your car is sluggish, you are loosing power; you’ve had the car for 100K km (~60K mi.).  Which of the following three mechanics would you prefer to service your car for a tune-up?

1. “I can get you that in a day or two, every car is different so it might take some extra time for yours.  A few tweaks under the hood and I’ll whip it right into shape for you no problem.  It’ll be running like new in no time!”

2. “I can recondition the electrical pulse devices within your internal combustion engine and ensure an adequate air-fuel ratio so that combustion via the electrical discharge ignites the mixture within the chamber providing sufficient exothermic reactions to provide kinetic energy needed to propel you’re vehicle.”

3. “I can change your spark plugs, if required, otherwise I’ll clean them to ensure that no built up soot or carbon is causing the power loss you’re feeling.  I’ll also check the wires to make sure that the electrics are reaching the plugs properly.  If needed, I’ll adjust the fuel injectors as well.”

The first mechanic is a bit vague; the second uses very technical almost scientific jargon difficult to understand; the third is easily  understood, and seems to convey what is required.  The third would seem the best choice.

Now, consider some Dog Trainers; what language might be best providing Informed Consent – a key to any type of treatment plan and improved consumer rights:

Case 1 – The dog needs some training on leash for pulling:

1a — “I’m going to get down to the dogs level and make him understand that I’m the boss and that he can’t be dominant over me.  He’ll learn to be calm, because I have a special energy that works with dogs.”

1b — “I’m going to use Positive Punishment and Negative Reinforcement and perhaps some Positive Reinforcement and Negative Punishment, on your dog.  he will find the first two aversive – that is in their definition and to avoid the aversive he will seek a behaviour to stop the application of the aversive.”

1c — “I’m going to use this device, which will cause the dog to feel annoyance at the very least, but possibly pain – these reactions are what the device was made for.  When he does what I want, I will stop using the device and the dog may do the behaviour faster next time.  Problems associated with this device and technique are that he may come to associate me, you or something else nearby with the discomfort or pain caused, and he may lash out or become fearful.   We may also need to keep using the device in order to continue to achieve the behaviour.”

Case 2: The dog is scared of things on a walk:

2a — “I’m going to talk to the dog in a gentle manner so that he understands that he is not alone in this world and together we can get him to a happy and emotionally calm state.  In time, he will understand that the spirits around him mean him no harm.”

2b — “I’m going to use Desensitization and Counter Conditioning to achieve a shift in the emotional state of the dog when he sees the stimulus that is causing his amygdala to cause him to have his reactions.  We could also try some Differential Reinforcement of an Incompatible behaviour.

2c — “We’ll use super treats right after he sees the scary thing.  We’ll start at a distance first, when he notices it, but isn’t reacting; then move closer as long as he is still comfortable.  What we’re doing is slowly changing his associations with the scary thing -he’ll learn to associate it with a good thing, the super yummy treats.  Working to closely to the scary thing might make matters worse, so we’ll keep an eye on how the dog is doing.  Let’s try this first, before we try another approach.”

Out of those 6, which do the best job at  providing enough information to achieve Informed Consent?  Hopefully 1c and 2c.  1c may sound horrific but provides the information needed.  Both explain, in simple, understandable language what is going to happen AND what fallout might occur.

Dog Training Consumer Rights are vague at best and have no specific legislative backing.  Dog trainers should be using clear, easy to understand language so the public understands what is being done to their dogs.

People need to be aware of risks.  Consumers put faith in experts of all sorts.  Consumers should expect Trainers to disclose what may cause harm to their dog or might make the dog worse.   Not doing so is akin to a surgeon not telling you that you have a chance of dieing if he cracks open your chest and stops your heart to preform a bypass.  Informed Consent should be standard practice.

As of this writing a Current initiative on Facebook is setting a challenge to all trainers across the world to disclose what their techniques will accomplish.

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