Dear Facebook poster who I recently argued with: I stand corrected.
Here’s what happened
“Put the dog on its back, straddle it, and growl until it’s submissive”.
This, I was informed, is the way to establish yourself as the alpha in a relationship with a dog. Apparently, according to this source, this is a tried and true decades old method and the only way to establish yourself as alpha and have the dog do what you want.
I follow a Facebook page that is focused on Golden Retrievers. It’s a great group of over 7,000 Golden Retriever lovers. Members of the page post pictures of their beloved Goldens, announce birthdays and other milestones, occassionaly mourn the loss of their pets, and sometimes reach out for advice. Last week when an owner asked for advice on how to stop their pup from taking food off of counters. There were some reasonable suggestions from other owners and then one that caught my eye, and ire.
“Put the dog on its back, straddle it, and growl until it is submissive”. That was the advice provided by someone who indicated they were a “professional trainer”.
I did something I rarely do on Facebook when I see something I don’t agree with. I wrote a pointed comment and allowed myself to get involved in an all too familiar Social Media squabble with a stranger.
I urged the original poster who was looking for advice to ignore the wrestle-mania advice of this so called and self-professed professional
wrestler trainer. Within moments another comment from wrestle-mania central was directed at me telling me that I knew nothing about dog training and that the method they described was decades old and highly effective. I fired back describing how obedient my girls are in spite of never having been physically held down and forced into submission. Sarcastically I acknowledged how lucky I must be to have such obedient pups given my lack of training knowledge. And that was that and of course I was right. Right?
Uh-oh! I just thought of something. I do put my dogs over on their backs often for belly scratches and they are submissive. I have straddled them while I reach down and give them kisses and snuggles around their necks. Then too they seemed submissive. And I’ve growled at them when down on all fours pretending to be a dog and initiate play with a puppy pose. During those times they look at me like I am the alpha and join in the fun.
So I guess I have done all those things described by that wrestle-mania-professional dog-trainer-facebook-poster described and that I denounced as being wrong. To make things worse there is photographic evidence of my guilt. This incriminating photo was taken right after throwing the girls down and growling them into submissiveness. And so it is with great humility that I stand corrected.
Does this make me a professional dog trainer?….
For whatever reason, I have encountered many a dog owner who bully, shout and tug at their dogs continually, and generally for no good reason. ” Get over here ! Stop That ! Maggie ! etc., I sometimes think it’s a control thing, a power-trippy thing – either way, I’m always surprised. The mentality of that type of training falls right into place for those folks who need to dominate. Peg and I practically raise a whisper with Bing!. I only shout Bing!’s name ( to get his attention ) and then commanded to come or stop when his life is in danger – like chasing a squirrel/rabbit across the street when a car is moving swiftly up the street. We are often in the woods where coyotes live and taunt small dogs from the near perimeter of the trail to chase them to an ambush… This is my worst fear, however, Bing! is very responsive to this single command and I am thankful for that.
10-4 on everything you wrote.
Loved this! Your sarcastic response was perfect! (Although I admit when I saw the title of this post, I worried that you might have become convinced that straddling a dog, holding it down and growling at it could possibly be a good thing!
I have seen people do that to dogs, too, and I’m just appalled. You don’t need to physically dominate a dog for it to accept your authority. And for shy dogs, it can actually make the situation much, much worse. The sad thing is, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, but that doesn’t mean they actually know they are doing. And it seems that the more bizarre (and mean) their methods are, the more they feel they are absolutely right and will listen to no point of view but their own. I feel sorry for people who use their training methods, and even more sorry for their dogs!
Thanks Ann. It still blows my mind that this person, and presumably many others, advocate and deploy these types of training techniques.
Your WWF mea er to that FB page is not correct. Kudos to you for engaging although like with other members of the clueless cohort, it usually falls on deaf ears. I do not understand why people think they need to dominate their pets. Positive training yields far greater results and less neurotic pets. Gold star for you, Michael! 🌟 Probably a good thing I’m not a member of that group…I’d be voted off the island in no time with posters like that.
Training through fear, is never a good thing. Your dogs will follow you out of respect and need and love…all good! In raising my 10th Golden, Blake, I am making a conscious effort to redirect his ‘bratty’ behavior when I call his name. Although it can be very tempting to yell at him, I don’t. Plus, I don’t want him to think his full name is ‘dammit-knock-it-off-Blake-no!’ Keep on learning and training and loving…You got this, Mike!
Thanks Dee. As agree and as I said to Colin’s comment hopefully my sarcasm came across. Its a scary thought that this trainer, if indeed they are one, is teaching possibly first time dog parents these types of techniques.
The theory of exerting dominance over a dog is not supported by any professional trainers that we have met. Cesar Milan was a great proponent of it but, in his latest book, he admits that there is no scientific basis to support it. In fairness to him though, it can work … which is what he based the concept on.
However, by way of an analogy, you can threaten a teenager with a 2 x 4 and he/she will cooperate for a while until they either hit back or leave home. A dog can reach the same level of frustration as it matures, but leaving home is not an option … but biting is! Our guideline with Ray was very simple – Do we want him to cooperate because he wants to, or because he is frightened to do otherwise? We also use the child analogy – If you wouldn’t do it to a 3 year old child, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it to a dog.
Totally agree Colin. Hopefully my sarcasm came through in the post.
Yup … I got your sarcasm re your girls, but I also hope that other readers will understand what absolute nonsense dominance training is, and how it can totally backfire.
Sarcasm rarely gets through to the clueless. If anything, it tends to make them dig their heals in deeper and get defensive because you’ve (rightly) called them out for being an ogre & a dolt.