The Long Con: Lies, Money, and Market Control
I’m sorry this video has taken so long to get out. I wanted to think carefully about the way I was going to present what I had to say, because it’s an issue that’s very important to me as a dog lover. So now, without further ado, let’s talk about the Long Con.
First: the Training Con because, as a trainer, I want to address the issues that are causing the greatest harm to our industry. “Train your dog this way; our way; the ‘Purely Positive’ way – and only this way, because it’s humane and kind.” The implication of this statement being, of course, that to train a dog any other way is inhumane and cruel. Which is ridiculous; it isn’t a case of either/or. As with everything in life, it’s a case of balance. But the message is, if you don’t train your dog the way you’re “supposed to”, according to the organisations and individuals that promote this flawed and dangerous ideology, you’re a heartless and abusive human being, that you couldn’t possibly love your dog, and that you are in some way inferior to everyone else. The lie that is ‘Purely Positive’ training is based upon a morass of pseudo-scientific propaganda, churned out to order by academics who aren’t dog trainers, working in sterile environments to tailor the results of their “studies” to the demands of their donors. I’ll give you three guesses who those donors are – and the first two don’t count. Any individual who adheres rigidly to the extreme of a particular belief or methodology is known as an Extremist. And today, these dangerous extremists pose a greater threat to the welfare of the dog than anything else.
In a recent Facebook post, I used the word, “Discipline.” Almost immediately, comments expressing outrage or disgust at the thought of any connection between “discipline” and “dog training” began to trickle in. On a fellow trainer’s post about the same thing, this was one of the replies: “If a treat and affection won't work and only disciplining him will, then what method of disciplining should it be? Hitting a dog could make the aggression worse.” This comment tells me everything I need to know about how people’s ability to think for themselves has been curtailed to such an extent that (1) they don’t understand what the word “discipline” actually means; and (2) they believe that it’s about “only disciplining” the dog. That is not what any reputable trainer does, or states. Remember: reward and consequence. But I don’t blame the posters of comments like these. I don’t blame the so-called "trainers" who mistakenly disparagingly refer to balanced trainers as, “punishment trainers”. It’s simple ignorance. These people have been brainwashed by the massive “Purely Positive” industry to unquestioningly believe that any word that doesn’t denote smiling unicorns and sparkling rainbows, must be bad. They have lost the ability to question and deduce, because the ideological message is so strong and so pervasive. But discipline is simply what we use to achieve good results and great things. Discipline is what wins gold medals and puts men on the moon. That’s all. The same outrage is these days expressed at the words, “force,” “pressure,” “threshold,” and even, “no,” to name but a few: these words have been hijacked and demonized. At the end of the day, they are just words, with a myriad of meanings. But these poor, outraged souls have happily consumed the Purely Positive Flavor Aid without even checking the label. And it’s only when they themselves end up with a dog whose behaviours can’t be fixed by Purely Positive training – only managed – that they start to question. Because they want to know where all their money is going.
And that – money – is why all these organisations want you to fit into one, uniform little box. It’s best summed up using a Latin expression; one that is used (somewhat appropriately) in regard to identifying crime suspects: cui bono? Anyone who studied Latin at school will know that this means, “to whose benefit?”. The term is interchangeable with cui prodest?, meaning, “Who profits?”. The answer is in the question: Profit. Filthy lucre. Market control. In one way or another, these organisations all benefit. How? If you can force trainers to train using only one methodology, and legislate so that they must subscribe to that methodology in order to be licensed to train, you can make money from that. Of course, not only will those trainers have to conform to the new legislation, they will also have to pay for their licences to train. Having brought all trainers to heel (pun intended), you can now turn your attention to dog owners and potential dog owners. And how do you target them? Aside from telling them what trainers and training methodology they are allowed to use (yes, allowed – the government will see to this, eventually), you do it by telling them where, how, and from whom to purchase their dogs, and what equipment they are allowed to use as well as – very helpfully – where to buy that equipment.
Which brings us neatly to: The Equipment Con. Want to train your dog to walk nicely on leash? Easy! Buy a “no pull” harness. You can get one from the same company that manufactures the head halter; another device cleverly marketed as “kind” and “gentle” even though it uses force (there’s that word!) to encourage, sorry, pressure the dog to move into a desired position. It’s aversive, plain and simple. There’s nothing wrong with something being aversive, so why pretend there is, just to present yourself and your company in a certain light? As a trainer, I have a massive toolbox so that my ability to help clients isn’t limited in any way – and the head halter is a part of that toolbox. But when you recognise that the organisations marketing and selling these devices are the same organisations pushing owners to train “Force Free” and “Purely Positive”, you start to see the bigger picture – and the hypocrisy. A company that makes one particular head halter even states on its website that it has, and I quote, “…the unique advantage of being able to constantly research and develop new products to help resolve pet-related behavior and training problems, as well as having a great base in which to test new designs and principles of animal training.” Now, doesn’t that sound reassuring to read?! This company has your dog’s best welfare interests at heart! Except, at heart, it doesn’t, really. As with any business, it exists to make money – and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with making money whilst addressing animal welfare issues, as long as you are doing so with integrity. That’s what any reputable, skilled dog trainer does: the two meet in the middle. As a balanced trainer, I can teach you to train your dog not to run into the road or chase livestock, thereby protecting not only your dog’s welfare but the welfare of others. I can provide you with a solution – not management, a solution – in a timely fashion, and I will be completely transparent about the way in which I do that. People need to start questioning the priorities and agendas of organisations who lie about or misrepresent their products and services under the guise of “animal welfare”. Products don’t resolve training issues. Training resolves training issues.
And last, but by no means least, we have the biggest con of all; the Rescue con. The big industry shelters have become highly effective at exploiting a world ruled by reality TV, Facebook Likes, and virtue-signalling. The dreadful “adoptdontshop” hashtag is a prime example of this. So is the never-ending stream of TV programmes about “rescue” dogs with vague and indeterminate backstories, scripted and narrated at a level more suited to pre-schoolers. Dogs whose potentially serious issues are downplayed as endearing little quirks for the viewers at home. But what happens when the camera crew goes home, the dog is rehomed, and its unsuspecting new owners are left with a disturbed and anxious creature that tears up their home, nips at their children, barks non-stop, and lunges at other dogs when out for a walk (on that “No Pull” harness they were pressed into buying)? Not so quirky and endearing any more, is it? What happens is that the beleaguered owners struggle on regardless until either by some miracle they find a competent trainer who can help them sort their problems out quickly and effectively, or the dog is returned to the shelter – with all of its previous issues, plus a few bonus ones from the additional stress of being bounced from shelter to home and back. Sooner or later, the dog will be killed. Sooner or later, its “quirks” will no longer be referred to as such, and because the shelter cannot and will not deviate one iota from their dangerous ideology to actually address them, the dog will pay with its life. But it’s ok, because for every one of those dogs there are a dozen others just the same, whose stories the shelter can embellish and sell on to a brainwashed and unsuspecting public, to make more money from more unsuspecting owners who just want to “do the right thing” by adopting, not shopping. And adopting is shopping, however you want to look at it. You’re still buying a dog. You just don’t know what you’re buying.
In conclusion, how does the Long Con work? If you’ve been paying attention, you already know. The large, well-funded organisations masquerading as shelters, animal welfare proponents, and government “scientific” institutes are insidiously taking control of every aspect of dog breeding, training, and ownership, under the guise of “animal welfare”. Therefore, anyone questioning or going against their agenda runs the risk of being publicly shamed and vilified.
So, how do you avoid being caught up in this con? It’s fairly easy. Do your research. Get educated about dogs, dog behaviour, and what dog ownership entails. Use your common sense. Get your dog from wherever you want to – but do it responsibly. Learn the difference between backyard breeders and puppy mills, and ethical breeders who breed dogs to strengthen and preserve the best traits of the breed. Learn the difference between shelters who have the dog’s best interests and welfare at heart when rehoming them, and the shelters who exploit the Boomerang Dogs for more revenue. Support, and adopt from, a shelter that focuses on getting unwanted and dangerous behaviours fixed in a timely fashion – before the dog goes out the door, so that it can stay in the home it goes to first time, as opposed to a shelter that promotes a “Positive Only” agenda for appearances’ sake – while killing the dogs it cannot fix. Train your dog in the way that works best for the dog – not in the way a bunch of propagandists tell you to train your dog because it benefits them financially to do so. And most of all, do not be afraid to stand tall because you know you’re doing the right thing. Stop caring what people you don’t know, and are never likely to meet, think and say about you. I don’t. I stand by what I believe and what I do. My work speaks for itself. I get trolled and abused on a daily basis on social media, and it’s water off a duck’s back. I delete, block, and move on. Do the same. It’s quite liberating! Above all things, do what you do for the highest good of the dog, and you can’t go wrong 🙂