Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boiling Blood

Behavior modification aside (you know me -- fear issues = counterconditioning and desensitization), there are many different ways to train a dog.  It's not my intention here to tell you what methods you should use.  I have friends who use all different quadrants of operant conditioning. I have found the methods that work for me (positive reinforcement) and will recommend my choices when others ask me for advice.  However, I fully respect those who use any others, provided they love their dog, understand the science behind each method, and are not abusive of any training tool, be it positive or negative.

All that said..

Perhaps I'm behind on the times, but I've just discovered a Canadian man by the name of Brad Pattison who claims to be a dog trainer.  To say I am appalled would be a drastic understatement.  I'm no fan of Cesar Millan and I totally denounce dominance as an explanation for dog behavior or a viable means of training. However, this guy makes Cesar looks like a pussycat.  I wasn't aware that that was possible.

There is not much video out there of him in action.  (Apparently, he and his cronies made a big stink about the videos showing his brutal methods at his seminars and had them all taken down). But, I found this.

The video captions do a pretty good job of explaining what's going on.  The dog looked up at Pattison three times.  When the dog saw he was being ignored, he moved elsewhere. Isn't that what you would do if you were trying to communicate with someone and they weren't giving you any feedback? Pattison set the dog up to fail.

The magnitude of that leash correction was totally unfair as well.  The dog wasn't even pulling - it just got out in front (thought by some to mean that the dog is being "dominant" - not something I buy at all).

Here is another clip.

I watched a video of him teaching a dog to sit by holding it up by the leash so that its front legs dangled off of the ground.   There are various text testimonials from his seminars floating around on YouTube, but they don't actually show what happened.  One says he dragged a dog up and down the stairs.  Another says he punched a dog in the face.  If the descriptions are true, this Pattison guy is one really mean man.

Pattison claims that using treats for training is "bribery," which totally ignores the science of reinforcement.  Reinforcing a behavior makes it more likely the the behavior will happen again.  Some behaviors can be so reinforced that the dog will perform them even if they know you don't have a treat.   Using a variable reinforcement schedule AND using rewards other than treats also ensures that the dog is not working "only" for the food.

Personally, I don't mind carrying treats with me everywhere I go (and do so mainly because there are fear issues involved), but I don't need to use them all the time. Brad Pattison might be shocked to know of all the behaviors Marge knows and will perform without the use of constant treats.  I'd like to see him drag a dog around and use punishment to teach agility.  Something tells me that he wouldn't even be able to make the unchallenging Novice course times because his dog would trot around the course with its tail tucked under its legs.

I wrote him a strongly-worded e-mail.  I'm sure it will get no where, but I will share it on this blog so that perhaps someone out there who has been lulled into these very dangerous ideas can see another side to the story.
"I am absolutely appalled after watching your training videos and hearing your explanations of dog training. You are absolutely delusional if you believe that treat training is more injurious to a dog than your brutality is.

I understand that there is an old-school train of thought for training, but your methods far surpass it. They make no sense. We must vary our dogs' feeding time so that they don't become "dominant?" Yet, at the same time, you anthropomorphize dogs by saying they need different "flavors" of food? It seems like you've strewn random ideas together and have used them to prey upon the innocent public who need help training their dogs and don't know that they should run far, far away from your regimens.

You may be able to convince the average pet owner that your methods work, but that's because they do not see the avoidance and fear that you instill in their dogs. For someone like me, a knowledgeable person who is active in dog sports, punishment won't go very far. My dog must be HAPPY to work for me. Using treats has accomplished that. And no, I don't need to use them all the time.. they were a teaching tool. They made the behavior desirable for her to do (operant conditioning). Now, they have been so reinforced that she will sit, stay, stand, down, perform various tricks, recall, pay attention to me, walk on a loose leash, and RUN AN ENTIRE AGILITY COURSE without the use of treats. I'd really like to see you accomplish that using your barbaric leash-dragging, overbearing and unfair leash corrections, and delusional idea that dogs are dominant and want nothing more than to take over the world.

As a person who has successfully rehabilitated an extremely fearful dog using nothing but POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT (no, not bribery, but instead scientifically proven methods), I pray that God have mercy on any dog who falls into your web of training lies."
I really wonder how someone like this can snag their own TV show.  I also wonder who came up with this horrible, horrible idea that dogs are intrinsically evil, dominant beings.  So much for having a healthy relationship with your pets.

You'll have to excuse me for now.  My dog is being dominant.. she's asking to go lay out in the sun for the umpteenth time this morning.  I must see to this issue!!!.. by granting her what her little fuzzy butt wants.


Cyndi and Stumpy May 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM  


houndstooth May 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

I really hope that in this day and age, most people are smart enough to see through this sort of flim flamery! I have had wonderful success with positive training methods and I have a great relationship with my dogs as well. I'm more than happy to let the little divas be dominant sometimes if it makes them happy!

Kathy Mocharnuk May 30, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

wow, I just do not understand the mentality of so many people that dogs are to be DOMINATED, and forced into submission and that is not is teaching a dog to understand what we want, if someone came up to him and asked him to do something in a language he did not understand and then choked him or hurt him to get him to do as they asked because he was so much learning would be going on. Also you would never be able to get behaviors like swiping their hose, or all the behaviors trainers get when they do tv shows or things like that. How could that dog be motivated or move fast and confidently on a agility course? Like the people who would listen to him need to think...I always think dog owners HAVE to be advocates and think when they let anyone do anything or tell them to do anything to their dogs. He has a show? What channel is that on? Who is the idiot who bought that show? That is who we should educate, this idiot probably is beyond understanding if he thought this all up to begin with.

BRUTUS May 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM  

Well, every village has an idiot, I guess this one must come from a BIG town. The only thing he's demonstrating is what a moron he is.


Golden Samantha May 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM  

I have never heard of this barbarian, and can't believe that thinking hominoids can be duped into signing up to train their dogs with him. Ouch - it hurt so hard to watch your vids. You got boiling blood over here too. VERY well-written email - you've got the lit. chops. (Like your new blog look - sorry I haven't visited - it's been a bit cracker over here.) Arggghhhh.
xxoo Sammie and Ma

Sue May 30, 2010 at 12:46 PM  

There is a difference between training and abusing till a dog complies. This guy, who I never heard of till now, needs to have a rope tied around his neck and be jerked and dragged around for at least a year till he learns that he's not dominant.

Sara May 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

Sad. Hopefully things are starting to change.

I just real an article in the whole dog journal that stated people in the AKC obedience circuit are still using "corrective methods", and many think that is the only way to get their dog to win the top title. I don't get it.

I saw a dog at the vet with a pronged collar. Broke my heart, as I sat there with my clicker, treat bag, and two well behaved dogs.

Martha May 30, 2010 at 3:48 PM  

It is scary that there are still some silly humans who think that is the way to train dogs!
We hope people will see through this.

Carolyn May 30, 2010 at 3:56 PM  

There actually is scientific evidence behind these training methods. The evidence concludes that aggressive training methods result guessed it! Aggressive dogs.

This article is a must read, especially for those that insist Cesar Milan "isn't all bad":

Very nice post, Sam. More people need to be made aware that self-titled "dog trainers" are doing a lot of harm.


Dexter May 30, 2010 at 5:44 PM  

I almost could not watch the first movie. That poor little dog. I was glad the second movie didn't show the actual lynching. Gosh, when it is training time for my dogs they are happy and engaged and making eye contact with their tails held high, sometimes even (gasp) wagging.

I have to say that even thirty years ago when all training was choke or pinch I never encountered anybody like this guy. The trainers always emphasized that for the tool to work it should be relaxed and used with a sharp, painless jerk just to get attention.

Thanks for your PSA and even if your letter goes no place, he'll read it and know there are people like you out there that are on to him. Yuck.

Mango Momma

mayziegal May 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM  

Well, I couldn't watch either one. Your descriptions were enough. People like this are DANGEROUS and it makes me want to cry that dogs are subjected to these types of methods.

I watched an "It's Me or the Dog" episode recently with an aggressive pekingese. The dog had been "trained" using dominance tactics. Every time the dog would act aggressive, she'd get her leash yanked. And the owners were mystified why it wasn't working. Victoria Stilwell set about improving the RELATIONSHIP between the dog and the owners, and building up trust. It wasn't an easy, fast fix but it worked.

As I was watching the show, I started thinking, what fun or joy is there in the dominance approach to training? How awful to always be worried that you can never let your guard down or just enjoy your dog because you're always afraid your dog is going to "take over." How much better is it to work WITH your dog and for the dog to do things for you because it actually ENJOYS it rather than doing it out of fear?

Okay, I'm off the soapbox now. Thanks for your post. It's an important one.


LauraK May 30, 2010 at 6:44 PM  

That's terrible! Those poor dogs- it just broke my heart to watch those videos. Thanks for sharing though, I've never even heard of that guy. It's amazing what a little love, patience, and positive reinforcement can do!

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog May 30, 2010 at 8:16 PM  


Your post title and words were enough for me to know I could NOT watch -

Thanks for sharing this and proving once again there are some real nutjobs out there -

Khyra's Mom

The Army of Four May 30, 2010 at 8:59 PM  

We could only watch part of the first one, and had to stop. That's so abusive!
Tail wags,

Golden Woofs! SUGAR May 30, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

WOOF! WOOF! It reminds me of my first teacher when I was only 7 weeks old. My family was very disgusted n walked out the class so we do understand your point. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Never Say Never Greyhounds May 30, 2010 at 10:21 PM  

Yikes! That made me cringe big time. I just can't believe that people sign up for that.

Lorenza May 30, 2010 at 11:08 PM  

I just feel sorry for the people who leave their dogs in his hands.
I hope you two had a nice sunny morning together!
Kisses and hugs

Stella May 30, 2010 at 11:43 PM  

Very good letter,Sam! I think if you write a couple more like one to the network this jerk is on, and one to a main sponsor.

Unfortunately, there are enough unkind people out there who feel as he does about training to use his methods. We need to get him moved and off television!

Jo (and Stella, too)

KB May 31, 2010 at 12:49 AM  

The really sad part is that a lot of people believe what trainers like this guy say. I had a person who was working on my house tell me that my dogs needed me to "assert dominance"... I asked what his experience was with dogs - he said that he didn't have one but watched Cesar Milan on TV. Jeez.

I couldn't agree with you more strongly. But, I must admit that when I had my first dogs, dominance training was pretty much the only way that anyone trained a dog... so I've done it (but never with such violence). Now, experiencing the new way of training, I so wish that it had been common a long time ago. My dogs' behaviors are so much more reliable because they *want* to please me rather than constantly trying to avoid correction. In any case, great post!

tula monstah May 31, 2010 at 7:37 AM  

what cruel methods! I couldn't imagine doing that to a dog to get it to sit. and a lady in the video looked like she was smiling. grrr. I completely agree, the average pet owner could be easily influenced by trainers like this. There's so much to be said for learning how to read body language and communicating with your dog in a positive way. I personally never leave how without treats (as a training tool), not bribery.

thanks for sharing this. I do hope it reaches people who are actually considering his methods.

hi marge! belly rubs..


Diana May 31, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

I couldnt watch the videos either. Man people are stupid and Im sure there are people using and praising his methods. Ugh! Great letter!! Good for you. Diana

SissySees May 31, 2010 at 9:51 AM  

Bravo to you! I'm thoroughly enjoying the HUMAN education going on around here. The Knight tends to get loud when he's re-telling an animated story, and I've been telling him that the fur-girls are very sensitive to changes in mood and volume.

Sissy just sulks, which will sometimes move him, but Gretchen flees to my lap where she stands guard over me, and that is making QUITE an impression. ;) I shudder to think what someone such as this overbearing (cruel) trainer would do to my darling dogs!

Dawn May 31, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

I couldn't watch either video. But I agree with whomever stated you should write the same to the network and to the sponsor! Time to get him off TV!!!

Cinnamon and Mint May 31, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

I can't believe that this brutal man has his own TV show, which means that there are many people who like to watch the way he treats dogs.

Life With Dogs May 31, 2010 at 7:37 PM  

Good for you for writing that e-mail. You know how it is - if enough people learn about this and spread the word his show will tank. Keep up the good fight!

AC May 31, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

Yikes. I couldn't even watch the video. I don't do well with that stuff because I always end up thinking about what would have happened to Kona if she had been adopted to someone who used harsh training methods. Kills me. So glad you sent the email.

Amy / Layla the Malamute June 1, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

I am so disgusted by this that I can't even think of proper words to say. The things I have to say are way too brutal and violent for a public forum. Loved your email though. I like the word "injurious". You sounded very intelligent and well-informed.

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