Work your dog, not your mouth…



I am irritated… and annoyed… and just downright fed up with people constantly telling other people what they can or cannot do with their dogs in terms of training, over how wrong they are in their way of training, over how they are misguided, stuck in the old ways, abusive and mean and even stupid or idiots when these people are yet to accomplish a single thing in terms of dog training to begin with.

It is the new fad out there. To get on your computer or mobile and to assume the keyboard warrior position as a means of sharing your knowledge, or lack thereof…. What is this incessant need to go out there and chastise people for the way they train or do things, or have done things in the past? Why should they now suddenly adjust their way of training a dog to suit you? What makes you so special that your word is law?

I am old school when it comes to dogs. I stick to what I know, I do not fix what isn’t broken and I do not follow the latest rave of doing things one way or the other. I look at the dog in front of me and adjust my training to that particular dog. One training style does NOT fit all! But the new generation of trainers, and I use the term trainers very loosely since everyone is a trainer these days, the new generation know exactly how to tell you what you are doing wrong, and why, because they went to school! And they got a certificate! They had a dog once! They simply know it all these days and boy do they get upset when you disagree with them… They start throwing out things like abuse and bully in hopes of getting a response, or to get heard… The problem is tho that the more they speak the less they are listened too since the same old babble gets old after a time and explaining why you do something a certain way gets old after doing it over and over…

Then the anger starts to really shine through when you ask how they would do it differently but still get the same desired response of effect at the end… they fall silent then. Answers are not something that can be given because they lack of knowledge and experience suddenly shows and they go back to saying one is old school, or lazy, or mean, or not willing to change their views…

Here is the thing tho? Those views have changed over the decades and more than once. Most of us “old school” trainers have already seen it happen before and have done it before and guess what? It didn’t work then! And it will not work now! So yes, we get irritated and annoyed when someone comes up to us on the internet or in real life for that matter, and starts telling us how we are all doing it wrong because science says so! Dogs have changed according to them! Nope, dogs have not changed…. People have changed! Dogs are still dogs with the same clock making them tick inside…. People however have changed and are forever changing as time moves along. They keep trying to fix what isn’t broken, thinking they are making steps forward when in fact they are moving backwards. Society has changed as a whole, putting HUMAN ideas and thoughts on everything they can under the guise of HUMANE treatment. Everything has to be nice and sweet, kisses and cuddles and politically correct for the sake of appearance. It doesn’t matter that this HUMANE fad is damaging the dogs… as long as it looks good. Shelters are filling up due to this state of mind. Dogs are being put to sleep due to this state of mind. Why? Because a dog is no longer allowed to be what it is to begin with! It has to respond to human thought and interaction with human knowledge. It has to think in human terms and read their owners or trainers and give them back a human like reaction because the dog reaction is not appreciated one bit. If it nips it gets labeled a danger and its life is now at risk… Never mind trying to raise a dog like a dog, it has no place being a dog in today’s society, it has to think and feel and react the same way we do or it will pay the hefty price of losing its life for not doing so… Here is the kicker tho? All those dogs in shelters? New generation trainer dogs….. Dogs that didn’t conform to the views of the rigid mindset of the new age trainer or owner. Because dogs should now be treated with human respect and human dignity they are no longer getting what they need which is dog worthy respect and dignity. And the trainers that are old school like me? The ones that still treat a dog like a dog, and give him his dues and respect in a dog worthy and respecting way… we get blamed for it, and told we are antique and mean and evil…

Let me tell you tho? It isn’t our dogs that are filling up shelters! It isn’t our dogs that are going around biting kids and random folks in the street! It isn’t our dogs that are getting labeled as unmanageable or dangerous! Our dogs are just fine! They live a happy life, and fit into society without to much issue. We do not feel the need to push our training style or ways on others…. That is something that the new generation of trainers is into…. Us old school trainers? We don’t give a rats ass on how you train your dog… Just don’t tell us how to train ours because our track record when it comes to dogs is a hell of a lot cleaner and fairer than the track records of the new generation trainer and we do not give up as easily on a dog simply because it presents us with problems. We just adjust our training to deal with those problems and do not try to push our dogs into boxes that they will not fit into to begin with…

So yes… Work your DOGS and not your MOUTH! Listen, ask questions, try to understand and most of all try to learn something before you throw your new generation weight around and point fingers at people… You might just pick up some valuable knowledge that way and your dogs will surely thank you for it!

Disclaimer: By new generation trainer I am of course making a generalization of sorts which is unfair of me and I realize this. Not every new generation trainer is as I have described. But I will say this… If this article is a sore spot for you? Or hits home in any sort of way? Lace up that shoe and wear it!


Alice MacKenzie.


12 thoughts on “Work your dog, not your mouth…

  1. Right on the mark. 45 years ago i was blessed to compete with my first dog in retriever trials and trained to train in ” old school” humbly the dogs have taught me a lot through the years but mine have never been given up to shelters or hurt anyone or harmed me but given nothing but their best when asked.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a trainer myself, I found myself saying “Yes!” out loud all the way through this post. I’ve worked with dogs for more than 40 years, and every one of them has taught me that respecting their dog-ness is absolutely critical to their success in training, whether it’s basic obedience, or Service, or any other area (agility, etc.) which requires them to learn. As a human being and a proud owner of a very special dog, I could not agree with you more when you noted that “It isn’t our dogs filling up the shelters…. going around biting kids… getting labeled as dangerous…” and I think a lot of today’s trainers could really benefit from watching and learning from us “old-school” trainers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with this, mostly. I’m new school. I train most dogs using a positive protocol and lots of games. But I don’t put down trainers who don’t share my methods. That wouldn’t be positive at all. Instead, I have a track record of proven success, with no students winding up in shelters or PTS because of bad behaviour. I would rather try a different quadrant than have a dog uprooted from it’s family and dumped on someone else’s doorstep or killed. This would be way more cruel than traditional training. If we all let go of our egos for long enough, maybe we can all learn from each other and shelters will empty.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do get that there is no shortage of dog training experts who are not as expert as they prefer to suppose or would have others believe. In other words, I do get the gist of the gripe. However, I caution that there will be some old school trainers who read this article and the comments only to assume it supports their abusive practices.

    I have found that a good way to tell the difference between authorities on a subject and those not so knowledgeable is to educate myself enough on the topic at hand in order to be able to tell when they go off track. If someone can show they know the subject, then to me it’s worth listening to them and perhaps trying something different. Also with regard to animal learning science, one good thing that researchers do that dog trainers typically do not do is divide subjects into two or more groups and train each group differently to perform the same task. Typically one group reaches a criterion of ‘accuracy’ faster than the other group. Although both groups may learn the task, researchers can use the two or more group method to determine which way of training is better than others and advance knowledge on animal learning. Alternatively, if one always just does what one has always done, while their method might work, they would always just get what they always got, rather than advance their knowledge and expertise.


    1. I must disagree with your defined end-point of ‘accuracy, and that time to reach a certain level of “accuracy,” is a valid measure of which training method is “better.” There are many simultaneous dimensions that can be of equal of greater import: “Speed,” “reliability,” “performance in range of environments,” etc. . .

      The scientific method is important, and unsurpassed in reducing human misconceptions of cause and effect. However, the method is usually quite limited to single independent variables and single effects; it is particular problematic with muti-dimensional animal behavior. It is the “developed art” of dog training, from years of experience, that allows us to incorporate such scientific results into practical methods.


  4. Another post with common sense. Rarely seen these days. It is my opinion that most of the “dog trainer’s” today are doing it to make money. That is why they cut corners.

    When (in my opinion) you send your dog to a trainer, you should be there to. I would want to know my dog was treated properly, not mistreated. Also I would want to ssee what to do to keep the dog trained. If you don’t work with the dog, he/she may need training again. I wouldn’t send an infant to be trained without being there, and the same goes for my dog, who happens to be my child for lack of better tems.

    Even though some people take training seriously, alot don’t. I have seen personally, dogs are trained, then put in the backyard, never to use the training, and left alone. That is when trouble starts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with what you are saying. To me it simply means, the day you become so expert that you can learn nothing, is the day you cannot call yourself an expert. Learning includes from the dog as well as the trainers.


  6. I have an shihtzu and he’s like 7 to 8 months and he bits on everything he even bits on my sisters little dippers and he pees in the bed in the carpets and every were I have tried trying paddes aND don’t work I also try taking him out side but all he does out side his run around and dosnt even pee or poop so I was wondering if you can help me please I can’t take it with him anymore 😦


    1. Hi Clint,

      I am sorry to hear that you are having issues with you pup. Every dog needs training, even the non working breeds. I will try and give you some ways to deal with the problems that you have and also explain why these problems came to pass to begin with.

      The biting is a problem that should have been addressed right away because the older the pup gets the harder it will be to deal with. It is all good fun when they are tiny, but not so much fun anymore when they grow up and get set in their ways. The best way to deal with this is to teach your dog that he is not allowed to bite anything else than the toys you have for him to bite on. If he bites toes or fingers, or even furniture you push him away with a firm NO and make him sit. You make him sit by pushing down on his butt and keeping a hand under his chin so he is forced to sit. As soon as he sits you give him a toy that he is in fact allowed to bite and chew on and reward him with a GOOD BOY! The sitting part is an easy thing to teach him aside from everything. Just get some treats, say SIT, push his butt down as you have a hand under his chin and as soon as he sits you stuff a treat in his mouth with a high praise GOOD BOY! Do that a few times and he will be sitting as soon as you say the word! Make your pup work for your attention and time and treats. Nothing comes free! If he is insistent in his chewing and biting you you grab him by the puppy handle (scruff) and full him up with his front paws from the floor with a very firm NO. All attention and play stops, you put him aside and walk away. He is done for the day, he broke the rules so he gets no further play. I think the critical rule you have forgotten with this pup is showing your pup that you incite play with him, not he with you. You say, he follows, not the other way around. In order to get attention from you and because he was never taught to not do so he is now using his teeth, in play, and doesn’t realize that he shouldn’t because you never told him he shouldn’t. Do as I said earlier and be PATIENT! Rome was not built in a day… It will be harder to teach him now because he is a bit older and this should have been taught as pup.

      The peeing and pooing in the house… again, something you failed to teach him correctly as a pup. Also when he does it in the house there are no consequences to it for the pup apart from maybe you getting very upset. But you are not actually teaching the pup what he is supposed to do to begin with. So we go back to the basics on this one. Pups needs to pee and poo after each sleep, play, feed and activity.

      Take him outside every hour! Not just a run around the yard where he gets to play and do whatever, nope, you leash him, and actually walk him so he can do no other than walk next to you and or pee or poo. Treats galore! He pees, you reward with a GOOD BOY! He poo’s, you reward with a GOOD BOY! You do NOT go into the house until he has peed or pood! Again, patience is your friend! You neglected to do it right when he was a pup and now it will take longer to teach him the right way. Putting pads all over the place is not fixing the problem, it’s just giving the dog more opportunity to pee and poo in the house. You want him to do his thing outside so you take him out each hour for as long as it takes. A smart thing to do is to also keep saying “GO PEE” even tho he doesn’t pee straight off. Keep saying it… at some point the dog will pee and you will reward and he will connect the GO PEE with reward and he will start to learn to pee on command… a very handy trick when you have to run an errand and need your dog to do his thing quickly. As soon as he pees and or poos outside regularly for a few days you start building space into the outings. Go from an hour to 90 minutes. When that works and he is clean in the house you go for 2 hours and you build it up like that. Owning a dog, no matter how big or small it is means working with it to teach it what it needs to be a good dog. It requires patience and time but if you give it both it will all work out in the end. I understand that you are frustrated but you have to be honest here and realize that this is not the dogs fault, but your own. You never taught it the right way and you can not blame the pup for doing what it does because it simply doesn’t know better at this point. Good luck with the advice I gave you and feel free to ask more questions if need be! 😉


  7. Someone I know sent me a link to this blog and I am so happy to read some common sense written by a trainer in the country I live. I am struggling trying to “cure” my GSD-Malinois mix (15 months old) from her fear reactivity. When I adopted her she had no training at all and never walked outside the flat where she lived, so she was reactive to everything. When she moved with me to Holland she knew just a couple of basic commands (Sit, lie down, wait and heel). Now, 4 months later, she is less reactive to “strange things” on the streets and to people…and I am working on her lack of social skills with dogs (she wants to play when loose, but she doesnt know well how to invite dogs to play politely) and on her reactivity on the leash towards other dogs. It sounds bad but it is not that bad, if we had the right guidance she would “recover” pretty quick, she is eager, the problema I have is that all I have hear so far when I try to find a trainer is ” go to a vet and get medication to remove fear” or “keep away from the triggers” and i do not think that is the right approach. I am an average dog owner, she is not my first GSD, I read a lot, I do a lot of work with her, but still, I think I need help, and not the one that involves my puppy being given prozac…I rather putting the time and effort!

    Anyway, Old School people, you should be more visible, it is ok that you do not want to be telling people how to teach their dogs on the streets, but it is very difficult to find you (at least for me, in Holland)


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