What do I mean by this? After classes today we were chatting about experiences that some of our clients have had with other trainers which resulted in them seeking help elsewhere because on some gut level they were just not comfortable with what they were told to do to their dogs in the name of training. The common theme was "I just felt the training methods were a bit harsh".
We are always delighted when clients express this - not because we're glad that they or their dogs had a bad experience, but because they were able to recognize that there was just something "not quite right" that did not sit well with them in the way their dog was handled and they chose to look elsewhere for a more humane approach.
Unfortunately, there are also many other dog owners who just don't quite get it. They may feel slightly uncomfortable about how they are being told to handle their dogs, but they will excuse it with "but X (insert trainer's name) really loves dogs, so he wouldn't hurt them surely? "
The reality is that love without knowledge is not enough. I can lovingly feed my dog so much that she ends up with health issues, I can lovingly bath my dog so often that I strip the oils from his coat. Yes, many trainers who do some quite awful things to dogs would claim to love dogs and on a level I would say that they certainly do. The problem is that they love their traditions and their own ideas more than they love the dogs they work with. Their pride stops them from really examining how their training methods impact on the dogs that owners entrust to them. They are not willing to consider that there may be better and far kinder ways to train.
So next time someone says, "but he/she really loves dogs" don't just take their word for it. Do they really love them enough to examine their actions and reconsider their ideas in the light of modern, science-based humane training methods? Do they love them enough to put their welfare ahead of their own pride and learn something new?