How not to train a dog as seen on reality TV
copyright (c) 2021 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 romp-
ing 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."
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info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
How not to
train a dog
as seen on
reality TV
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