"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 31:  October 28, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool - Getting it Wrong - Making it Right
=>  Selecting a Trainer
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  A Night on the Town

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Here in my area, we have been experiencing a flu “epidemic.” Not the dog or avian flu, but the good old fashioned sit on the toilet for half the day human flu. I know it has kept me down for a couple of weeks now and has also hit just about everyone else in the house. Needless to say, I am behind on many things so if you haven't heard from me and were expecting too, please be patient. I am playing catch up and should be back in the swing in a week or so.

As most of you know, I try to ensure I research and get my facts straight when I write my articles. Since I tend to take a hard line on so many subjects, I feel it is imperative to do this research if for no other reason than personal integrity, but more importantly, to ensure what I tell you is the latest most accurate information.

Well, last year I made a mistake. In an article I did on designer dogs archive/111904.htm I incorrectly stated that a “Puggle” was a cross between a Pug and Poodle when in fact it is a cross between a Pug and Beagle.

Now, I realized the mistake within a few days of the article going out but because it in no way affected the point and focus of the article.

At the beginning of this week, I received an email from someone who stumbled upon the article and wrote me a rather nasty email. Rather than explain the email, I have decided to simply print it and my response.

"Are you retarded? A puggle is a mix of a pug and a beagle. We have a puggle and he is a wonderful dog, does it not reach your consciousness that a dog does not have to reach the standards of a master breeder to be considered a good pet. Such arrogance is dumfounding. Feel free to email back with any problems with what i have said."

My Response:

Dear Doug,

You are correct that I mistakenly listed the incorrect breed mix in the article you are referring to and have known this since the week the article was originally published. Several people who own this mix breed wrote to me very soon thereafter.

Originally, I planned to rectify the error, however, I realized it didn't make a difference when you look at the point and focus of the article which you appear to have sadly missed.

The point was to make it clear that people need to be honest about the origins of the dog they have and accept them for what they are. Designer dogs are mutts. That's the reality. The only difference between a mutt and designer dog is a mutt is a "whoops" and designer dogs are, in my opinion, a human made fraud.

I do not know of a single reputable breeder, of any breed, or a vet with a background in husbandry, who would endorse the breeding or purchase of these animals. The reason for this is they know these animals generally are produced by amateur breeders, puppy mills and dog brokers, the majority of which are the bottom feeders of the dog world, bent on deceiving the public for financial gain. If you have any knowledge of such operations, you would know the animals bred in such operations usually live in deplorable conditions, are in-bred, denied medical treatment and pre/post natal care and numbers, not quality, are what is important.

You stated...

"... does it not reach your consciousness that a dog does not have to reach the standards of a master breeder to be considered a good pet. Such arrogance is dumbfounding."

First, I said quite clearly in the article that some of the very best dogs I have ever seen have been mutts so, obviously, your earth shaking revelation had reached my "consciousness" before the article was written. I went on to say I hate people who will intentionally manipulate dogs for financial gain so they can create the newest "flavor of the month." This was the point of the article. You obviously have no idea what can happen when a breed (designer or recognized) becomes the flavor of the month. Perhaps you should take some time to educate yourself on the subject.

Second... If you have read any of my other articles on behavior, you would know that I place a dogs behavior squarely on the actions (or lack thereof) of the dog owner. If someone has a dog that isn't a good pet or citizen, then it is almost always the result of the way they were raised. It doesn't matter whether the dog is a mutt or the off-spring of a world champion. At no point in my article did I say designer dogs couldn't be a good pet. I did say you are increasing the chance of getting a dog that will have a short life and have numerous medical issues if you chose to buy one. I also said you are throwing away your money when you can get a mutt at the pound for $100.00 and save an animals life at the same time.

So, from what you have written, the only thing I got wrong was the mix that makes a "puggle." Quite honestly, I don't care if it is a cross between a pug and a red as* baboon, it will always be a mutt and giving them any type of status as "pure," at this time, is in my opinion, nothing but a fraud. Not only that, most who are educated on the subject believe it encourages the operation of puppy mills and could very well be sending a wonderful, adoptable dog in a shelter to their death. All so someone can have their flavor of the month.

Hey, if you are happy paying $400.00 plus for a mutt, then good for you. However, at least have the integrity to admit that this is what you have. You say you have a wonderful dog which would indicate you have done the right things to raise the animal and I applaud you for that. I will even put in my newsletter this week that I made the mistake about the combination of breeds it takes to make a "puggle/mutt."

I always welcome comments about my articles whether the comments are good or bad. I would like to ask, however, that if you choose to write again, please have the class to leave out comments like calling me retarded. This term I find particularly offensive as I have a family member who is developmentally disabled. I appreciate your consideration and please feel free to write back, providing you can respect this request.

Kind Regards,
Christopher Aust

Now, I am constantly saying my subscribers are some of the best dog people around. Not because they decided to become members of B-n-S but because they have taken the time to try to educate themselves and make the lives of their dogs better. I am certain many of you also subscribe to other dog training newsletters and I fully support and encourage this. It gives you varying views to choose from.

I didn't plan to print this mans email or my response but then I realized it makes one point very clear ...

Those of us who are out there doing all we can to educate ourselves about the goings on in the dog world are in the minority. As a result, it is important we pass on the information we obtain to others who may not have been as diligent. Personally, I feel it is our duty to get the best information out to the masses.

I would really like to restart the Breed of the Week section but prefer to have the readers tell me the breeds they want to see featured. Additionally, if you own the breed you are asking me to feature, please send me a picture so we can make your dog the star of the article.

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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Dear Mr. Aust,

First I want to thank you for the great information you send each week. Your newsletters have given me so much insight into why our dog does the things he does. You make it easy to understand without all the rhetoric.

We have a two-year-old German Shepard that is a complete loon whenever we have people over at the house. We got him as a pup and have been consistent with him, but he still acts up whenever people come around.

We decided to hire a trainer to work this problem out but have found a multitude of different trainers with different ideas of why our dog does this, as well as just as many different ideas on how it should be fixed.

How do we know who to go with and which method is right for our dog? We have heard you say there are dangerous methods and don't want to risk hurting our dog physically or emotionally. HELP!

Mona B.
Suffolk, UK

Selecting a Trainer

If you open your local telephone directory, you'll find numerous entries and ads placed by “dog trainers.” You'll see claims like, “results guaranteed in two weeks” and “positive reinforcement only.” You will also find individuals who have impressive titles and certifications from training organizations that make the individuals sound competent and well versed.

The truth of the matter is that, in my opinion, nine out of ten people who call themselves trainers are far from just that. They are, at best, more like enthusiasts and/or misguided in their abilities and methods as a result of some sort of "certification." Very few municipalities in the world have any type of certification and licensing requirements for dog trainers. In fact, I think I could count them on one hand.

There are dozens of schools that will train you to be a "Master Dog Trainer" in anywhere from four to sixteen weeks. They will then give you a snazzy little certificate and send you out to save the dogs of the world.

I had been training dogs for over twenty years before I ever started calling myself a Master Trainer, and I had been certified as such five years before that. Certificates and certifications can be had as easily as taking a correspondence course, so don't put too much weight behind them.

Avoid trainers whose training methods are dependent upon mechanical or electrical devises. These training methods are profit based and in no way take into account the individual emotional needs of the dog. Many, particularly the shock collar folks, will tell you their equipment is a used because of safety. This is a load.

My question to those trainers is, if their methods are so effective, why are they worried about the dog running off into an unsafe condition? I thought they trained the dog.

Additionally, there is no proof e-collars are safe emotionally for a dog. I've asked nearly every manufacturer of these devises for some sort of study information regarding their safety and believe me their data is far from convincing. In fact, I feel their data proves my point.

The only equipment a reputable trainer should use is a leash, collar and check chain. In certain advanced training methods, a harness may be appropriate.

You want to look for someone with at least twenty years of full time experience and numerous credible and independent references. Many trainers will tell you how they have been training dogs for "X" number of years, but few have been doing it full time during that period. You would be surprised at the number of people who call themselves trainers whose annual time spent training is less than a hundred hours.

You also want someone who does behavioral analysis and independent training programs for each dog. The trainer should ask an extensive number of questions about the dog, their family environment, diet, medical history, current obedience level, the dog's daily schedule, abilities, and fears. You've all heard me say this before, all dogs are individuals and thus deserve, no, require individualized training.

Any credible trainer will have an extensive knowledge of pack protocol and dynamics and how they apply to a dog's behavior. If a trainer tells you they aren't a behavior expert or "dog psychologist," then avoid them like the plague. A trainer should be a behavioral expert. It is the very essence of what they do. How can you shape behavior properly if you don't understand why dogs respond the way they do to certain stimuli?

Ideally, you want your trainer to come to you. Classes work against the natural learning process of a dog, particularly in the beginning. They can be useful when dealing with advanced training, but the perfect environment is a one-on-one approach. If you aren't comfortable allowing a stranger into your home, find one that will meet you at a local park your dog is familiar with.

Ask for references and call them all. You want to the references to be fairly old as well. This way you can see how the dog is doing after an extended time since formal training. Ask a lot of questions about the trainer's approach, ideology and corrective methods. Check with your local Humane Society or county Animal Control office to see if there have been any complaints made against the trainer.

Finally, and most importantly, follow your gut instinct. If you find you are uncomfortable with a trainer, your dog be uncomfortable too. Your apprehension will be felt by the dog, and you will be wasting your time and money.

Selecting a trainer is a critical step in your dog's training and emotional well-being. Take your time and do your research. It is time well spent. After all, we don't want to spend money to train our dogs just to have it be an unsuccessful venture that will have to be repeated.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: mailto:subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com?subject=Subscribe VISIT NOW: master-dog-training.com

Quote of the Week

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~ Unknown ~

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Joke of the Week

Night on the Town

A farmer and his wife were dressed and ready to go out dancing for the evening with a couple who had just moved in down the road. They turned the answering machine on, put the cat in the backyard and waited on the neighbors to pick them up.

The neighbors arrived, but as the couple opened the front door to leave, the cat scooted back into the house. That was a problem because the cat always tried to eat the parakeet.

The wife went on out and got into the car while her husband went back inside to get the cat.

The cat ran upstairs with the man in hot pursuit. A little on the paranoid side, the wife didn't want the new neighbors to know that the house would be empty. She explained that her husband would be out soon. “He's just going upstairs to say good-bye to my mother.”

A few minutes later, the husband got into the car. “Sorry I took so long,” he said as they drove away. “She was hiding under the bed. I had to poke her with a coat hanger to get her to come out! Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me while I dragged her downstairs and threw her out into the backyard!”

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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