How not to train a dog as seen on reality TV
(c) 2014-2018 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
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!
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 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".
Ask me for an individual consultation
|How not to
train a dog as
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