SPEAK! Oklahoma's Only Talk Radio Show for Dog Lovers

SPEAK!  Oklahoma's Only Talk Radio Show for Dog Lovers
KTOK, 1000 on the AM dial, at 1:00pm cst, listen live from anywhere at www.ktok.com

Friday, November 20, 2009


I believe the Internet is a wonderful, powerful tool that has now made things possible that most of us could have never imagined. Thirty years ago it would have been difficult if not impossible to find good European breeders, and converse with dog trainers all over the world. But I also believe the Internet has made it possible for shysters, and liars to succeed. There are dog trainers who claim to train drug detection dogs, apprehension dogs, search and rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, personal protection dogs, competition dogs, therapy dogs, seizure detection dogs, and teach classes, train dogs that are boarding at their facility, etc., etc.

Why can't the public see that no one person can do all of that? Most of these with the jargon can never produce an actual working dog that they have trained. I have met great trainers at seminars and workshops, and all who are great specialize in a very few things. Many of the blow-hard trainers are also "breeders." They have overpriced dogs just waiting for people with money who believe their slick stories. It is a joke among the dog-knowledgeable as to the poor quality dogs that many wealthy people have been duped into buying, and the money they have spent on mediocre to downright poor quality instruction, or abuse in the name of training. WHY would people spend more time selecting a car or furniture than they do researching an animal they are going to spend 15 years with, and some with the potential to rip the face off of their kid?

Why don't people investigate? Sadly, the public thinks that if the facility looks good, that if the breeder "promises" that the dogs are healthy and of exceptional quality, that they got one hell of a deal. When actually they ended up with a poor specimen of the breed, or a designer-mutt, with no real potential. Most people don't know what questions to ask, they don't know that titles on the parents prove that the parents at least had some genetic predisposition for learning, coping, and instinct for whatever work the dog was bred to do.

Why don't dog owners want to learn? Off and on for years I have tried to interest people in consultations or seminars on how to select a breed for what the owner wanted. The public just doesn't give a damn. They don't want to learn anything about the beings that they are selecting to share their life. It is for that reason that in the USA that 43 percent of all dogs are re-homed after 6 months of ownership. Many of these dogs end up in rescues, shelters, or passed from person to person, sold in newspapers, etc.

I am not a breed or competition snob. I believe though if you want a dog that is a good companion that matches your energy level and fits in well with your lifestyle you have to know what you are seeing in the pup, adult dog, or when selecting from a litter, what the parents will tell you about the offspring. This can be a $2,000.00 dog or a dog from the shelter.

I have lap-dogs, and working dogs. I have expensive dogs, and rescues. Both can be trained, but my Italian Greyhound is not going to excel at Schutzhund like my German Shepherd imported from Europe who has all working titled dogs in her pedigree for 5 generations. My IG though is just as important to me, and she will make a great therapy dog, she loves agility, and she is a great bed-warmer and fun to dress up! ;-)

Why can't people see and hear the truth? The sign of a crappy breeder is when they point out that "the great great grandfather was a grand champion." Oh dear god! First of all there is no such things in dogs as a "grand champion." That title is for hogs and cattle. Champion means that the dog was judged on beauty and those traits can be lost in one generation of breeding to an ugly dog. Also, conformation champions don't usually have a brain left because of selective breeding for beauty traits only. So if you want a show dog, the odds are against you unless one or both parents are show ring winners. If you want a great herding dog, just because the dog is of the herding breed, it doesn't mean the dog's instincts or trainability has not been lost through mediocre breeding when no one is truly testing their dogs in trials. Genetics are everything. "The dog is what it is when the sperm hits the egg." (That quote is from my good friend and German Shepherd enthusiast, Sandy Tam-Armstead).

If you want a field retriever that wins hunting trials, you better see that one or both parents are field titled. Now if you want a retriever that is a great pet and lays by the fire at night -- you do NOT want a field bred dog.

I also just love people who purchase a working dog, and then never hunt, or herd, or bother to even complete a 6 week training course. Lofty goals require hard work. Sorry, but I only see that perseverence in about 2% of the people who train. In my Schutzhund club over the last 14 years I have seen hundreds of people show up a time or two and then never show up again. Now that dog with all the energy and the genetics is sitting in a yard until the owners decide to sell or just keep the dog as a lawn ornament.

I am pissed. I am burned out. I need to get away from humane issues, because I just cannot tolerate the ignorance surrounding dogs much longer. From now on, I am not going to coddle ignorance. I am not going to reinforce stupidity with niceties. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars going to seminars, reading books and scientific studies on genetics in dogs, watching hundreds of dvds and documented hours of videos of dogs displaying neurotic or psychotic tendencies. Yet, people will flatly ignore my advice, or travel to another trainer who will sugar-coat things and tell them what they want to hear.

I am tired of old men who are too insecure to take advice from a younger woman. Several years ago I attended an adult education workshop. There the speaker said that the hardest group of people to reach and train with a new idea are men over the age of 50. Heeheee.. sighhhh, boy ain't it the truth. All of the instructors at Full Circle are female. I think it makes the instruction better. I also believe women do not tend to make the dog an extension of our egos. But we have our problems, too, like using dogs as a child substitute, or a substitute for a human relationship.

So one more "why". Why not take the time to ask for proof of what a trainer has done. Why not ask about seminars instructors should attend to continue their education -- not to improve their salesmanship. Why not try to get the best dog and then the best training that is the best fit for your family?