There’s a danger to believing everything you read on the internet
I understand that already I sound hypocritical. That’s fine. After today I feel somethings need to be talked about when it comes to “expert opinion” on the internet. Not so much that they aren’t 100% true or that people don’t know what their talking about, I’m not quite on a soapbox here. Let me explain.
Today I did a consultation with a very nice couple who adopted a 90+ pound dog a few months ago. When I came in the door, Jager was at the end of his leash barking at me. Not an unusual thing to see in my consultations. They explained that after a few minutes, typically, he calms down and will come over to say hi. Also not unusual. So we start talking about why I’m there.
They tell me about reactivity towards dogs, strangers, pulling on the leash, not coming when called, etc., etc. As I start thinking about a game plan to help these guys, they bring up a couple of situations that scared them. Three, in fact, and all having to do with resource guarding with the husband. Well we have protocols for that and it’s something we see a lot, so no big deal. The big deal is what they told they did when it happened.
Since getting Jager, they have been doing research online about training, living with a dog that has reactivity issues, etc. One of the things that they saw a lot of was the idea of presenting yourself as more alpha than your dog. The dominance mindset that is all over the internet and a lot of people, to no fault of their own, try to put into effect with their dogs. The problem is, if you don’t understand exactly what to do in this situation, it can cause problems with some dogs. Especially a dog like Jager. SO, when the husband decided he needed to follow the direction that he had been seeing on the internet, stood up, took a dominant pose, and tried to present himself as Jager’s alpha, Jager decided that he would accept the challenge and lunge, bark, and growl back at his owner. That’s a scary situation for a dog owner, who is trying to follow the advice of internet experts.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to be very black and white about the things that are important to you when it comes to your dogs behavior. I also think, that depending on the relationship you have with your dog, some of the dominant/alpha techniques could show some results. I also know that certain dogs will react better than others. The problem is, the people reading the alpha training info, or watching the videos, don’t know that. Then you get what happened here. It’s happened to me with dogs in training before. If it happens to me, or another qualified trainer, we know how to handle the situation. We know what’s dangerous, what’s safe, and usually skate on the thin ice in between.
So like I said, it’s not that the information on the internet is 100% false. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s just not 100% true. Sometimes it takes a little more knowledge of that type of situation before you put it into practice. I understand that not all articles, videos, etc. can come with a “Do not try this at home” caveat. What I’m asking for dog owners out there, don’t try it at home when you’re looking at a potential dangerous situation. For my dog trainer and enthusiast friends, try to remember that plenty of people take what you say and put it into effect. Let’s try to keep everyone’s safety in mind before we put it out there, and maybe we’ll save a few people from being bit by their own dogs.
Just my two cents.