Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Famous dog Trainer attacked for using science and nature to train her dog!

Recently I read a blog by one trainer criticizing another for putting a video on You Tube that showed a dog trained to hump on cue. I could see if it was a mild criticism that focused on training methods however the critique turned to a moral outrage usually reserved for legitimate acts of animal cruelty.

Suzanne Clothier is a dog trainer that specializes in “many things” as her web bio states. It’s funny that in all her years she’s never figured out that humping in dogs is a Fixed Action Pattern, and in the family of the four F’s. It’s also surprising that Ms. Clothier would not have put together that dogs have amazing discrimination, and that a dog with a strong FAP to hump would do best with it on cue so it could be rehearsed in the strict context trained humping only. This will create a decrease and possibly eliminate the humping during dog play and with other humans. Then again maybe she does know all this? I don’t know. I do however know the trainer in question, Jean Donaldson, a mentor of mine and I also consider Jean a friend. I do not like it when people attack my friends. Perhaps there is some professional jealousy at work here?

Or is Ms. Clothier a Christian/republican/conservative? I wonder? Care to answer?
I put my female dogs humping FAP on cue and it has greatly reduced it during dog play. In addition my dog is an APBT; she has a strong desire to clutch with her front paws/legs. Most likely somewhere in her lineage her relatives were probably what is known as a “catch dog”. Dogs used to catch hogs and bulls, by the ring on their nose or by grabbing them and holding them down. My female APBT also likes to hang by her front legs onto anything that dangles, a rope affixed to a ball big enough to grasp is one of her favorites, and she sometimes even humps in the hair while she has a tennis ball in her mouth. Is that rope toy now a sex toy!?!?! Oh my!

Chow Chow’s are one of the world’s oldest dogs. They have a long history as guarding and fighting, and hunting dogs. Buffy the dog in the video is a female Chow Chow. Humping is normal. Attacking a trainer for putting it on cue is sad. Especially when there is zero to gain from the attack.

When one trainer levels an accusation of abuse at another trainer they had better be able to back it up with exacting proof that the animal is/was under duress, in pain or feeling fear at the hand of the “trainer”. Not an “opinion”. Ms. Clothier has an opinion. Her opinion it seems is based in her morals, not in the science of animal learning and her blog never explained humping and FAPs/4 F’s. She took shots at Jean for her wardrobe though. Jean is a fashionista for dog’s sake!

For Clothier to lump Jean Donaldson into the Milan/Vick abuse category is ludicrous. Clothier says if Milan had done this people would storm the doors of Nat Geo.” If this were Cesar using humping behavior to prove that any behavior can be trained and put under control, there would probably be a march on National Geographic's headquarters”.
No they wouldn’t. Why? Because people are asleep, that’s why. People watching TV Dog training is the equivalent of 13 year old girls in the front row of the Jonas Bros. People get all tricked by the fancy lights and the music and the pretty dogs.
Millions of People have watched Millan shock, choke, hit, kick and submit dogs into learned helplessness and so far he’s just making more money. Why have you not stormed the headquarters of Nat Geo Ms. Clothier? After all it can be proven that Millan has abused dogs and disseminated misinformation. This disinformation hurts and kills dogs just as much as any physical abuse will, because not understanding dogs is what is killing them.

To lump Donaldson into the Vick/Millan/Abuse category as Clothier does is just downright comical. I agree that there is a line there and the thread runs through both of those idiots. What Clothier lost here was an opportunity to show people that fact in another blog that would have better served the agenda of all people working towards the betterment of dogs. Instead Clothier chose to blast one of the best dog trainers in the world because of her moral opinion, not because Donaldson did anything wrong.

With few to people realizing just how interrelated Vick & Millan are this could have been a blog about that. Those two are connect by their actions whether you want to make the connection or not that’s up to you. Millan has “lost dogs” (had to be euthanized) due to his “methods”. Intellectual laziness is killing dogs every day in shelters, it is also the main cause of why breeds get banned and owners resort to pain and fear. It seems Clothier suffers from this intellectual laziness, or is she just player hating?

Jean Donaldson admits to being a cross over trainer, someone who figured it out. She has worked tirelessly to promote positive training and has educated thousands of dog trainers and owners. Her mission is to help people and dogs. Her books are legendary, her Academy is legendary, and her status in dog culture is also legendary. In fact it is cemented.

Clothier? Ah not so much. Not one of my clients has ever mentioned her to me in 10 years. Not one of her books is on any required reading list I know of to be certified as a dog trainer. She never comes up in any conversation or blog or anything I’ve come across in the past 10 years in my study of dog training.

Jean Donaldson has a sense of humor, something Clothier clearly has lost or never had, or her sense of humor is rooted in some parochial Pollyanna delusion about dogs and humans. Clothier goes on a jag in her blog about APDT and how Donaldson is no longer a member, how she is “only speaking at this year’s conference”. I’m a member of APDT, and you know what, it’s a joke. They have pain trainers in their ranks. The good old shock, jerk n pain crowd flying the APDT logo all over the place. APDT has zero accountability or standards or any type enforcement of positive methods in dog training. Being a member of this organization is no great feat or credential. It’s a logo on a website, period.

Clothier served as a committee member for the American Humane Association's Task Force for the Development of Humane Standards for Dog Training, so why is the profession still such a disaster?There are no standards, why could you not get this job done Ms. Clothier? What happened?

At least Jean Donaldson puts her money where her mouth is and created the Academy for Dog Trainers at the SFSPCA. They do their damnedest to instill in all of the students that dog training is dependent on that state of the dog, if the dog likes what is happening then its ok, if the dog does not like what is happening then back off and rethink your plan. In addition they educate about dog behavior from a humane scientific standpoint.

This seems to be the year of disappointments for me in regards to positive dog trainers. I’ll just add Clothier to the list. Hey I have no issue with the women not wanting to put a strong FAP on cue, but to vehemently attack Donaldson is uncalled for. It makes Clothier and whoever alerted her to the video look like a bunch of jealous bitches. Don’t make it personal unless you want it that way.

All time does is make you old. It does not make you smart, kind, insightful or savvy. It can, but it is not a guarantee. This type of sniping is what we do not need in dog training among people who promote positive dog training.

Just because someone does not understand something does not make it wrong. I was educated by Jean Donaldson to ask questions, observe and base my deductions on legitimate dog behavior and to always consider the emotional state of the dog. As Jean says “Dogs vote with their feet”, if they don’t like it they won’t be willing do it. In all her years in dogs perhaps Clothier never distilled it down to something that efficient. I don’t know I’ve never read her books or attended her seminars, and now I won’t for sure.

How this will play out is as follows, some will be on Clothier’s side and say “humping is bad”. When in fact humping is normal, and it can be reduced or extinguished. If allowed in a specific context it helps the dog get it out of their system. That is what should be the message here. Fortunately Clothier’s blog is not all too popular, so it’ll probably go largely unread.
As Dunbar says “Make sure you touch the dogs goolies”, referring to the dogs private parts. He shout’s this in his puppy training video during a class and everyone compiles and chuckles. No outcry here for Dunbar’s handling exercises! Oh the humanity!

When I bath both of my dogs I have to get rather invasive with their “goolies” as it were. They tough it out and I reward with small food bits. It could be misconstrued as some canine Caligula by idiots or someone with such a moral stick up their behind they can’t see clearly. However those of us who are living on planet earth with even a modicum of legit dog knowledge know that well sometimes that is just a fact of life when you have a dog. So is humping, get over it, and get it on cue! It will be reduced quicker folks!

Clothier says “This is not a beer drinking moron or senseless stoner armed with a video camera and hell bent on demonstrating their dog's willingness to hump a person. This is a prominent, highly regarded award winning trainer/author's video.
Exactly, that is why Clothier should back off and perhaps have just let this one go, or asked Jean herself? Because Jean Donaldson is not a hack trainer. She has earned the respect to be given slack. Maybe Clothier is intimidated, or maybe just intellectually lazy? Either way it’ll all be ok, the world will not fold in itself because there are dogs humping on cue or otherwise. Well maybe Clothier will lose sleep; the rest of us most likely will be able to get past it. What I am miffed at is the disrespect leveled at my friend and mentor.

I’m a fellow blogger on Dog Star Daily with along with Clothier. I could post this at my private blog and accept no comments like she did. However I’m putting this up at DSD. Maybe I’ll get a direct reply? Maybe she can level abuse at me too! I always like a good laugh, so bring it on.

The only thing that will come of all this is that another trainer has just been “found out" to be less than what we thought she was, and it’s clearly not Jean Donaldson.

The video
The blog

Links to dog humping behavior & FAP’s