How not to train a dog as seen on reality TV
(c) 2014-2019 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Countless scientific studies support the effectiveness of positive dog training compared to
compulsion training or the use of aversive training methods. The AVMA position on
dominance based training methods is that they are cruel and inhumane. Animal
welfare organizations and countless trainers and behaviorists support this position. Yet
compulsion dog training continues and oftentimes the participants and viewers are
unaware that what they are doing and watching is just plain wrong.
A November 11th episode of RHOBH features the housewives embroiled in the usual
dramas, most of which they create or control. Avid viewers tune in to watch how those
dramas play out. But what about those cast members who have no control over the script?
No choice and who, from where I’m sitting (let me know if you agree), are actually abused
on set. Yes, I‘m talking about Kim Richard’s Kingsley (a one year old pit bull puppy) and the
aversive and cruel “training” he is being subjected to.
Now, let me say first off that it is abundantly clear that Kim Richards loves, loves, loves this
dog. We get that, seeing them interact is wonderful, there is an outstanding trusting bond
that has been forged here and there is joy. All the romping and playing—so wonderful to
see Kingsley play bowing to Kim as she attempts to keep house and entertain him at the
same time. Kim seems to miss that when Kingsley places his front legs out and bows down
he is asking for play and not trying to keep objects away from her but she is kind and good
natured and there is much laughter in the segment. And when Kim gets under the bed to
retrieve a toy for Kingsley, fellow dog lovers can relate, having all been there getting
whatever has rolled under the couch, dresser, bookcase, or bed.
Kim acknowledges in the segment that she needs to train this big puppy. Good intentions.
Where this falls apart is in the training methods employed by the trainer Kim has hired.
We see the back of the trainer kicking what appears to be the dog as a method of control,
advocating Kim and her son to “thunk” or hit the dog with her legs and to grab on to the
tender scruff of the dog’s neck to force the dog to sit. There is much made of how this
puppy should not be treated tenderly and the relationship with “Mommy” that he has
forged is disparaged. We see no teaching of Kingsley as to what we might want from him.
None. No teaching of “sit” or “off” or “quiet’.” Instead, the trainer advocates rough
manhandling which teaches a dog nothing except to fear the handler period. Studies bear
this out extensively. Punishment creates fear and defensive aggression as the animal
seeks to protect himself. Teaching any animal, human or non-human with positive
reinforcement is proven more successful not to mention kinder and more humane.
Kim, herself seems to question these methods. (Good for you Kim!) In her blog of
November 12th she writes: “The trainer told me he’s very spoiled! You think??” No Kim,
your doggy is a puppy and a high energy, playful puppy who likes to play and do dog
like things like bark, and chew and bite and jump up. You need to learn how to redirect
him in a positive manner just as you would any child. Kingsley needs to be taught how
to channel those behaviors to coexist in your human family. Positive dog training
without aversive strategies is the way to go here.
Kim writes on: “When I spoke to the trainer, David Utter, he told me that Kingsley is not
going to like the authority of a trainer and what he represents and that he could become
aggressive with him.” There is absolutely no good reason for this. Dogs are heavily
domesticated and work well with any human that handles them with sensitivity,
consideration and respect. If the dog reacts aggressively to anyone including a trainer
there is an issue with the approach and handling. A dog becomes aggressive when he
is fearful and is protecting himself, and what the dog is protecting himself from in this
instance is the trainer’s painful handling. Kim goes on to write: “He also said that Kingsley
should have a choke collar and leash on when he arrives, because Kingsley may sense him
on the other side of the door!” Such bad advice! Restraining an animal with a powerfully
aversive method such as a chain which chokes off their air supply is compulsion training
which is not only cruel but which will work counter to what you are trying to teach. This
sort of pulling and pain inducing will hurt and frustrate the dog, add to that the owner’s
high energy and you have a recipe for extreme arousal. Attack dogs are trained to attack
by keeping them on lead and just within reach of whatever it is they are trying to get to.
Way better here to teach Kingsley to sit off to the side and offer treats for quiet behavior.
This trains “sit quietly while I open the door” not “opening the door means you get choked.”
In TV land, where shows are shot way ahead much has already happened in real time that
we are not aware of. I hope Kim Richards has figured this out already and that Kingsley is
being taught without the use of compulsion training. There is so much that can still be done
with Kinglsey and this trainer and behaviorist would be happy to show guidelines and
strategies to Kim and Kinglsey to start working with on set or off. Should the producers be
looking for celebrity think of Ian Dunbar, Sophia Yin, Suzanne Clothier or Victoria Stillwell.
Good luck Kingsely!
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copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"We see no teaching of Kingsley
as to what we might want from
him. None. No teaching of “sit”
or “off” or “quiet’.” Instead, the
trainer advocates rough man-
handling which teaches a dog
nothing except to fear the
handler period. Studies bear
this out extensively. Punishment
creates fear and defensive
aggression as the animal seeks
to protect himself. Teaching any
animal, human or non-human
with positive reinforcement is
proven more successful not to
mention kinder and more
Ask me for an individual consultation
|How not to
train a dog
as seen on
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