31 Comments on “One of the biggest red flags from any dog trainer. 🚩”

  1. I’m all for positive reinforcement but it doesn’t always translate to real life. Luckily my dog is small enough for me to restrain and I have had to do so.

    1. This is likely because you haven’t gone into enough depth. Positive reinforcement is more than just giving dogs treats and toys. It’s active management in lieu of physical punishment. It’s catering to our dogs positive emotional state at all times during the training process and in their life. There is a whole world here to learn about. And if you did I am certain your position would change.

  2. I have a very reactive dog, who i love, but i went into that rabbit hole of dog trainers, where they use slip leads, prong collars and all those things to “correct” the behavior. I bought a slip lead and was like “this will change my dogs reactivity” but I’ve never used it. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing anything to potentially harm my wonderful relationship with my dog. I just don’t like the thought of punishing her, when her reactivity is clearly based in fear. If i was afraid and someone hit me for expressing that fear, i would probably shut down. And i don’t want that to happen to my dog. So thank you Zak for making these videos ! I shouldn’t have strayed from the positive reinforcement community for a second 🐕Here’s to working with my dog in a positive way!

  3. Very true! I took my reactive shelter rescue to a trainer that immediately went into harsh punishment. I left after the evaluation and never returned. When working with him, I found that he didn’t even notice a flat collar or head harness when he reacted to seeing other dogs. However, I followed another trainer who used a prong in order to communicate with the dog and it worked wonderfully. The lesson I learned is that the tool is irrelevant so long as it’s used correctly. A flat collar or harness used harshly to quell a dog’s behavior is not going to be effective in the long run. However, a prong or e-collar used to better communicate when a dog is demonstrating an undesirable behavior is a fair way of showing them what is expected. That followed quickly with a treat when they react positively has been a lifesaver for my pup.

    1. Agreed. I have an e-collar for my gsp. Not to punish, but to communicate. If he’s distracted or blows me off, I can give him a beep or a quick buzz on the vibrate setting to snap him out of whatever he’s focusing on. It doesn’t hurt or scare him, it’s akin to a tap on the shoulder saying “hey, I’m talking to you…”. This dog gets to frolic off leash at the beach now, which would have been unimaginable before I got the collar for him. He’s living his best life thanks to it.

  4. We have had an enormously difficult time trying to find a decent trainer for our foster dog. We’ve gone through six or seven options. They all want to be violent with him. It isn’t necessary. I won’t allow it. So now we’re stuck training him ourselves, and I’m out of my depth. I really appreciate your videos and this encouragement.

    1. If you find you need more support, the Fenzie Dog Sport Academy is online and has classes for everything. Between them and Zak’s videos my pup and my lives were changed.

    2. In truth, dog trainers are essentially consultants. They can show you how to react to a dog and how to teach a dog to react appropriately to their environment. Yet YOU are the one who has to interact with that dog in order to give it success. Zak’s videos are great for helping you, but if you’re out of your depth, you might consider that you’re not meant for that particular dog.

  5. Stopping a behavior forcefully is not a productive way to train a dog. Suppressing behaviors does not cause long-term change.

    There is a whole lot of evidence that shows punishing unwanted behaviors actually does significant harm to dogs’ welfare… not to mention that it’s actually ineffective from a training perspective, too.

    The temporary illusion of compliance from a dog who’s been suppressed through punishment can be convincing to someone who doesn’t know what they are looking at. But it’s important to understand that a dog whose behavior has been shut down through corrections is not the same as a dog who actually learns how to change their own behavior.

    Instead of trying to quell unwanted behaviors via punishment, science shows us that the most effective way to address “problem” behaviors is by focusing on the underlying emotions that are likely to be causing the behavior.

    A good trainer will break things down into steps that are small enough that each step is actually easy for the dog to achieve. No force required.

    1. I went to a herding dog trainer for some basic training. She was so abusive to my dog. My dog finally lost her temper and she acted like she was a bad dog. No, she knows how to protect herself. I felt so bad and cried so much that I let her endure an hour of that abuse. She wanted me to step on her leash with a pronged collar on and force her to the ground. And I told her no, I’m not going to force her. I wasn’t going to emotionally break and animal.

    2. @Rawrs ALot  yea now all that’s not necessary. That’s the thing with Zak. What he describes is abusive, like what your dog went through sounds abusive. When I work herding dogs, most of the time it’ll only take a martingale collar and a few well-timed leash pops. But, what most of us are complaining about with Zak is that when you’re dealing in aggressive behavior modification or severe reactivity disorder, 90-95% of the time, R+ only doesn’t do anything except waste treats. That’s if the dog will take treats at that point…
      When dogs put themselves into “the red zone”, they typically want nothing to do with treats at that point.

    3. @Katherine Elliott  a dog that is a “red zone case,” isn’t a case where simple management and/or redirection will keep them out of the red. As a behaviorist, you should know that. As a behaviorist myself, I am always up for learning. And I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. And you’re right… saying it just doesn’t work is an exaggeration and, therefore, not true. So apologies there. However, caring for and treating / training clients whose dogs pop off every time they see another dog or human can’t possibly “manage the environment” and “redirect the focus” every time, all the time. It’s not reasonable. But using balanced methods and teaching them that certain actions have consequences (i.e. real life with or without humans) and certain actions get rewarded (also like real life), the dog will learn faster and understand clearer what the rules and boundaries are that you’re setting up in the structure you’re providing them. And dogs love to be told what to do so they don’t have to make those decisions on their own. Most of our dogs that come through my program are rescues with a bad past and have almost always been through from 1 to 3 trainers prior to finding our personalized program. We don’t have a set curriculum because the needs differ in each case. Education is huge with us, so the owners can begin to understand when and what their dogs communicate with them. And for anyone to call my methods abusive, has obviously never attended one of my classes. And I take offense when anyone suggests that because I will give corrections, I’m abusing these babies. You must’ve missed all the rewarding we do as well!

    4. @Angela Matteo  I’m truly sorry you took my comment that way – it’s not how it was intended. I don’t know you and I would never presume to. I think the problem is that people take these discussions as personal attacks and no one wants to be harmful to their dogs. I don’t normally comment – I’m not looking for fights. But as someone who has been through the very struggles that everyone is talking about – for those folks – I am adding the comment that if they want to seek these methods- and if they’re watching Zak’s videos then I presume they do, then I want them to know these methods can and do work, and I am presenting my reasoning why. If this was offensive to you I’m sorry.

  6. Would love if you would sit down with a balance trainer and talk it out, or take the same dog and see which training is more efficient for that dog. That would be cool

  7. I agree with you completely! If you resort to punishment, that’s because you don’t know how to use positive reinforcement to change the behavior. Whenever positive reinforcement does NOT work for me, I know it’s time for me to go back and look at my training. Every SINGLE time, I find I have made a mistake. It’s MY fault (not the fault of positive reinforcement). You’re right–it’s time to swallow one’s pride and recognize you can (and WILL) make mistakes and then go back and correct your mistakes. And ADMIT you’ve made a mistake.

  8. Thank you Zak! I went through such a hard time finding a trainer for my czech WL GSD – no one had the experience to use relationship based training with a drivey dog like her – and their punishment based methods didn’t work either. We were almost housebound and I found thr FDSA – and within 3 weeks people were asking me where I was taking her- 2 years (and dog sports and going out and doing offleash work) people continue to ask who I work with. It breaks my heart when I read posts about +R training not being useful for challenging problems. It works and much faster than people realize- but you need someone with the training and experience themselves to apply these methods with these beautiful working dogs. And the relationship you will have with your dog is second to none. Thank you for continuing this very important message!

  9. Started with positive reinforcement training and that worked well, until about 5 when my dog would start chasing bikes and kids. Tried treat training with a trainer but it wasn’t working so we used an e collar and it helped us nip a bad habit in the butt. Anyone who tells me I’m terrible owner for using an e collar can KMA. However i have a feeling this is due to drama between you and DD. You guys are different dog trainers that help different dogs that have certain needs. DD is just as valid in his methods as you are in yours. But honestly i feel like you and DD are working together to create this stupid drama to get more views. It feels super staged from both sides.

  10. That’s a lot of work for dogs. Most people don’t do this as a living like you do so they don’t have time. Collars can help eliminate the issue faster.

  11. Any dog trainer can teach obedience with R+
    But we still haven’t seen you train away an aggressive or severely reactive dog. You’re right. It’s easy to do what you do. Continue to do that. But you should leave the aggressive and severely reactive dogs to the us pros that actually work with these types of dogs.

  12. I trained my samoyed for nearly a year straight with positive reinforcement and it only got me so far.. I had a positive reinforcement trainer who literally kept coming up with excuses as to why their methods didnt help my dog.. recall was a major issue which wasnt getting any better. Went to ecollar training with an open mind and noticed huge results in less than a month. Im not saying one method beats the other but I noticed major results with rewards and e collar and in hindsight it may have saved my dogs life.

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