Crossing Over

I thought it wise to take a break from my current series to explain something about my training methods for those of you who have known me for a long time.  I am what they call a “crossover trainer”.  What that means is that I once used methods and tools I no longer use.

You see, there are really two schools of dog training.  One I refer to as traditional. These are dog trainers that learned from dog trainers that learned from dog trainers and they have been pretty much using variations of the same methods for nearly a century.  They support these methods because they often see instant results with them.  They are sincere in their thinking that these methods are the best and most proven methods.  But the issue is, by the time the problems that these methods cause rear their ugly heads, the trainer is often out of the picture, or, if he knows nothing about the science at all, the trainer does not associate the problem behaviors with his (or her) training methodology.  These are not bad people, they do care about the dogs.  But their methods are problematic.  I used to be one of those trainers.  Until I met the other kind of trainer.

The second variety of trainer is one who studies the science of behavior and designs methods around the science rather just doing it a certain way because that is how it has always been done.  We have come a long way from the traditional methods, to the benefit of our four legged companions.  This is the reason you will see me writing articles that may discourage the use of techniques and equipment that I once embraced.  You see, I have discovered, that just because it works sometimes, and just because that is the way it has been done since the beginning, doesn’t make it right.  We used to put leaches on sick people to make them better.  Science prevailed there, so please, let it prevail here.

And if ever you have any questions about anything I write, or (gasp!) don’t believe me, please let me know and I am happy to send you the names of people with PhDs and DVMs who have done the research.

Another note about traditional methods and your DVM.  Most vets do not specialize in behavior, but some do.  Those that do not specialize in behavior may have no more knowledge than the traditional trainer does about what methods are and are not helpful.  So when I refer to DVMs in regard to behavioral expertise, it is those that have studied behavior, not those who haven’t.

So I hope that clears some things up for you.  And if you are one of those people who I worked with before and would like to hear about the new stuff please let me know!  If you are still in the area I will give you a session or two to see if we can’t cross you and your dog over, too!

About Dawn Sims

I have been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). I am also a freelance writer for dog related publications. I have been training dogs since 1997, promoting force-free, science based training methods, instructing group classes and providing private in-home dog training. I have worked extensively with dogs with behavioral issues, including those suffering from anxiety, aggression and other stress related disorders. I have dedicates much of my free time to rehabilitating and re-homing shelter dogs with a variety of rescue organizations. As part of my passion for advocating science based dog training methods, I have had the privilege to lecture at Virginia Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2014 I returned to Arkansas after 12 years in rural North Carolina, where Happy Hound Pet Services began in 2007. I live in Rudy, Arkansas, with my husband, eight dogs and occasional foster dogs.
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