FREE INFORMATION: Abuse Indicators: Here are some general rules and tips that will help you recognize and avoid abusive training methods before your dog gets hurt!

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Abuse Indicators
by Neal Seaman
, Consultant for Aldo's Acres

All over the world people are up in arms about dog abuse. Yet most people abuse their dogs, and allow others to abuse their dogs, because they do not know what to look for and how to test for abusive techniques when they join a dog club or hire a trainer. As a result, many dogs are mentally broken down and physically damaged.

HERE ARE SOME GENERAL RULES AND TIPS TO HELP YOU RECOGNIZE AND AVOID ABUSIVE TRAINING BEFORE YOUR DOG GETS HURT...

What you can do...

  1. Before you hire a trainer, always ask "specifically what will be done with my dog" or "how do you achieve your results". If he or she tries to sidestep the questions, or says it is too complicated to explain or that you don't need to know, do not let that trainer touch your dog.

  2. If possible, watch how the trainer interacts with other dogs and how the dogs respond, before you let that trainer touch your dog.

  3. After the trainer begins working your dog, if your dog starts to show signs of abuse (other than normal nervousness at a new task) stop the session immediately.

  4. If you cannot find a good trainer in your area, do not make the common mistake of thinking that bad training is better than no training.

Signs to beware of...

  1. ears back
  2. tail between the legs
  3. body crunched and head back
  4. constantly banging into or jumping on the handler
  5. crouching down or walking low to the ground
  6. inappropriate panting (during light work when the temperature is comfortable or cold)
  7. fear of the ground/walking on toes (symptom of electric collar use)
  8. nervousness or backing up when the leash is moved (symptom of heavy collar corrections)
  9. avoidance/fear of the handler or trainer (can be as subtle as turning the head to avoid eye contact)
  10. avoidance/submissive behavior when the handler or trainer goes to pet the dog
  11. nervousness when the handler goes behind the dog
  12. nervousness/fear when the dog knows that he has made a mistake
  13. dog was not biting before, and when you reach out to touch your own animal he bites (this is called defense on the dog's part because he has been abused!!)
KEEP THIS IN MIND FOLKS, TRAINING IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SHOULD BE, TRAINING. ABUSE BRINGS ON FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY IN AN ANIMAL. ANYONE USING TECHNIQUES WHICH DO NOT TRAIN WITH LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING ARE NOT TRAINERS BUT ABUSERS. IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW LONG THEIR CREDENTIALS ARE IF THEY PRACTICE ABUSE THEY PROBABLY GOT THEIR TRAINING EITHER IN DACHAU OR AUSCHWITZ.

Abusive techniques to be aware of...

  1. kneeing, pinching or hitting any part of a dog (with hands / any other part of the body or any other device)
  2. stepping, stamping, or standing on a dog's feet to stop jumping
  3. water depravation
  4. hanging or dragging
  5. using a throw can, shaker can, or throw chain
  6. spraying liquid at the dog or in the dog's face
  7. using a sharply-pointed prong collar, or incorrectly using a prong collar
  8. using any electric device (except for long-distance training, such as for hunting)
  9. holding a dog's mouth closed with the hands
  10. covering a dog's eyes
  11. a forced retrieve that takes too long or is done incorrectly (for example twisting or pinching the ear to get the mouth opened)
  12. sitting on, laying on, or restriction of any type with the trainer's body over and above for placement purposes
  13. "Alpha" training (instead of training and bonding with love)
  14. in tracking, putting the lead between the legs to slow a dog down
  15. putting a dog down on the ground and holding him down
  16. in tracking, compulsion of any type
  17. in Schutzhund, rushing from a tug to a sleeve without the proper intermediate steps
  18. in Schutzhund, pinching (for distraction) to get a sleeve out of a dog's mouth
  19. in Schutzhund, forcing a sleeve into a dog's mouth
  20. in Schutzhund, using the stick unnecessarily or incorrectly (using the live end instead of the dead end, or hitting areas that have not been designated by the DVG)
  21. in Schutzhund, allowing a dog to hit the end of a long liner at full-speed
Neal's first rule of dog training... THERE ARE NEVER ANY SHORTCUTS IN DOG TRAINING. FOLLOW THE MOST HUMANE WAY OF RELATING TO THE DOG AND NEVER EVER USE ABUSE OR LOOSE YOUR TEMPER!!!

Folk's only you can stop these abusive trainers in their tracks. You suspect abuse get a lawyer. Day in and day out I hear all the stories, yet they continue because these trainers stay in business because no one stops them. It's your dog it's your choice. Your dog has been hurt, protect him, protect other's dogs through your actions.

Get into the fight and defend what is right!

Abuse information from our readership...
If you have a story or information to share, please email us and we will post it here!

Joyce D., Bethesda MD - Her trainer threw the lead over a limb of a tree, lifted her dog off the ground until almost unconscious, then let him down to place the dog into a sit position. What is wrong with this picture?

Leonard V., San Francisco CA - A Schutzhund "trainer" teaching a dog the bark and hold, every time the dog made a move to bite, shoved a stick in his dog's mouth.
I no longer belong to that club, thanks Neal.

John A., Des Moines IA - After reading your abuse column, I refused to let a trainer use an electric collar on my dog to do basic obedience. As you have stated training with fear just makes a fearful animal.

Jackie S., Watertown NY - "I had been looking for obedience manuals for quite some time, not knowing which one to buy. After reviewing your site I was able to narrow it down to 1 book. Thank you for your help Neal!"

Tad W., Tabor City, NC - "Jotting down some of the points you had made throughout your site I went to a local dog trainer for basic obedience, with the projection of eventually doing some home/business protection. When these points were presented to the "trainer" she said they were totally ridiculous and were not applicable to dog training. She then told me what dogs understand is correction and that's how they learn, "no need to get involved with all this psychological stuff". We wish you were in our area Neal because we know now the truth."

Wayne T., Middle Island, NY - "I have been into and training dogs, which I told you, over 40 years. The advice you sent me on using the dog's psychology as a cornerstone for getting a rock-hard sit and down stay was incredible. I did not have to use any form of corrective collar measures. That method is one for the books. Thanks Neal"

Anonymous, Yaphank, NY - I received a phone call from an individual who has a "professional trainer" training their 4 month old Labrador Retriever. To get control of the puppy, he is wrestling the dog to the ground and giving harsh collar corrections. To teach the sit, this "trainer" is pushing down on the puppy's hindquarters (which can cause environmental hip displaysia because the femur bone is still soft and could flatten out). From under what rock do these so-called "professional trainers" crawl out from? -Neal

Christine C., Fort Worth, TX - My husband sent out our dog to be trained and everytime we try to put the leash on the dog he runs away. Now I know why. Your advice now shows us what was done wrong.

Joseph Fabrey, Sacramento, CA - Dear Neal,my wife and I wish to thank you for the advice on how to get our dog's to search deeper into the tents. Now when they do their searches you can actually see (from the outside) their heads making impressions on the tents as they search. Thanks again, you saved our dogs and us alot of time by providing us the answers which now seem so obvious.

Anonymous, Myrtle Beach, SC - I have a young puppy who is 11 weeks old and I was having problems. The dog is constantly biting me. Even though I know it is teething the biting is incessant. The advice I received from my veterinarian, friends, and the local so-called training experts was all rooted in abuse. From spraying in the face with vinegar and water to collar corrections. Nobody approached the problem your way from analyzing the dog's food, toys, exercise programs, etc. I am so happy that there are people out there that when they claim they are dog trainers and can help with behavioral problems really know what they are talking about. Thank you ever so much Neal.

ALL OF US KNOW THAT DOGS ARE DIFFERENT THAN HUMANS. BUT THERE IS ONE THING WHICH TRANSCENDS ABOVE ALL HIGHER THINKING ORGANISMS - ABUSE AND LACK OF EMPATHY PRODUCES FEAR, MISTRUST, AND ANIMOSITY.
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