Violence starts where knowledge ends. Too many dogs are still trained with aversive methods, whether with a choke or shock collar, or with a spray bottle of water. It’s ineffective and simply outdated.
Unfortunately, the dog training industry is not regulated in Australia and any yahoo can call himself a dog trainer (or worse, “dog whisperer”). Many are not qualified to train your greyhound and sadly, do more harm than good.
So there are a few things to look out for when searching for someone to help with teaching your greyhound how to live in our world.
- Seek science-based, force-free and positive, rewards-based training methods. If a trainer claims that not all dogs or breeds learn the same way (and therefore some require a ‘heavy hand’), walk away. The fact is that everyone, including humans, giraffes, dogs and rats, learns the same. And positive, rewards-based training has been scientifically proven to get you the best results in no time (even though it’s a no-brainer that punishment based methods don’t work).
- Ask for the trainer’s qualifications. Positive, rewards-based trainers are proud of their skills and will be happy to show what and where they learned the art of dog training. Good trainers also never stop learning and attend seminars and workshops to further improve their skills.
- Ask how they feel about greyhound racing or any other form of entertainment using animals.
- Don’t sign up if it requires your greyhound to undergo the GAP green collar assessment. It’s an absolute joke of a test, and says nothing about your greyhound’s behaviour. It also demonstrates that the trainer who requested the assessment has no idea about dog behaviour.
- Look at their website and watch out for outdated vocabulary such as ‘alpha’, ‘pack’, ‘corrections’, ‘dominance’, and ‘assertiveness’, but also read their blog and see what topics interest them. If a blog posts reads that shock, prong or choke collars are a good tool to use if you know what you are doing, walk away! Look at the photos on the website. Do the dogs look happy and relaxed, or do they wear choke chains around their neck?
- Ask about the tools they use when training. All you need to train is a treat pouch, and a clicker is optional, although handy if you have one. Aversive tools include choke chains, electric collars, prong collars, water bottles, rattle cans, etc. A balanced trainer will use both punishment (sometimes called ‘corrections’) and rewards, which is something to stay away from.
- Don’t buy into quick fixes; any trainer who promises that it will only take 1 or 2 sessions to ‘fix your dog’, is going to use aversive and outdated training methods.
- Don’t send your greyhound to dog boot camp! It’s your dog and you need to teach him how to live in our world – plus, you don’t know what they will do to your dog there. Dogs have died in dog boot camps (more so in the US than here, but why risk it?)
- Obedience classes focus on your dog’s obedience rather than teaching him valuable life skills. They often uses aversive and outdated training methods, and are especially disastrous for fearful greyhounds.
- Note that a good trainer has 10 solutions to 1 problem.
A few recommendations
- Smart Dog Training and Behaviour in Brunswick: http://www.smartdogbehaviour.com.au/
- Loose Lead Pets in Footscray: https://looseleadpets.com.au/
- Wagging School in Brunswick: https://waggingschool.wordpress.com/
- Bark in the Park in St Kilda and suburbs: http://www.barkinthepark.com.au/
- Teacher’s Pet in the Eastern suburbs: http://www.teacherspets.com.au/
- Laura Mundy in Altona and surrounding suburbs up to Footscray: https://www.lauramundydogtraining.com.au/
- Kintala Dog club in Heidelberg: https://www.kintala.com.au/
- Southern Cross K9 in Ballarat: http://www.southerncrossk9.com.au/
- Paw Behaviour Dog Training in Carrum Down: https://www.facebook.com/pawbehaviourdogtraining/
- Planet K9 in Melbourne: https://www.planetk9.com.au/
Find more force-free, qualified teachers via the Pet Professional Guild: https://ppgaustralia.net.au/
And please share if you have found a great trainer for your greyhound via firstname.lastname@example.org
Force-free, positive, rewards-based trainers are sometimes not so good at advertising their services and can be hard to find .