Monday, August 24, 2009

The Germantown Dog Whisperer

We took Newton to our local dog park for the first time today since we moved to this area. He had an ok time...I got the impression that it wasn't as well-run as the one that used to be near us, so we probably won't go as much as we used to in Columbia.

The truly annoying part, however, was that there was this woman there who was just...a loudmouth. You know the type. Holding court by the benches, telling everyone what an awesome "dog trainer" she is. People like this really put me on edge. My first thought is always, "If you're so awesome at xxx, why do you have to tell everyone so loudly?" Anyway, she has a fist full of dog treats at the park (which was's never a good idea to introduce food into a large group of dogs that you don't know) that she's giving out to all the dogs. She's asking each of them to sit before she gives them a treat. Some woman's dog didn't know sit, so this "dog trainer" said she would teach him. The owner jokingly says, "Well if you can teach him, I'd pay you!" *sigh*

So the "dog trainer" takes this little min pin on a leash about 4 feet from where all the other dogs are playing and proceeds to try to lure him into a sit with a treat which is a perfectly valid way to teach "sit". However, it doesn't work, of course; it was like watching someone try to teach a 3rd grader fractions in the middle of a carnival. The dog was far more interested in all the activity around him than in the "trainer" or her food. So the "dog trainer" starts forcing his back end into a sit (bad can actually hurt some dogs this way). When he pops up and spins away from her, clearly thinking, "What the heck, lady! I was just here at the park having a nice time and now you're manhandling me!", she jerks hard on his leash and yells "NO!" at him. At this point, I am so annoyed at her that I almost said something, but decided it wasn't my business, so I bit my tongue. I guess she decided this dog wasn't going to listen to her so she decides to alpha roll him (pin him to the ground with his belly up). This is a very submissive position for a dog and some dogs won't tolerate a stranger doing that to them, particularly in a situation with other dogs around. She just met him 3 minutes ago and SHE IS AT THE DOG PARK...this is a good way to get bitten, frankly. She then proceeds to arrogantly inform the small crowd of dog owners that she had to do this to a Rottweiller once. Awesome. Finally, she lets the dog up and forces his back end into a sit at which point she informs the owner/small crowd that "He got it that time!" and hands the leash back to the owner. Got what?? That maybe if he just let you do whatever (because I guarantee you the dog was STILL totally in the dark about what she actually wanted him to do) that you would leave him alone and go away? She then tells us that you just have to watch Cesar Milan's show if you want to know how to do that because that's how she learned. I almost died.

Pretty much immediately after that, the owner and her dog left. I followed them to the gate which was out of earshot of the "dog trainer" who was STILL holding court. I suggested that if she really wanted to do some stuff with her dog she should pick up the book the trainers I talk with online wrote. I told her it was game and fun-based training and that I thought it was much more about building a relationship with your dog than Cesar Milan's method which had always struck me as sort of confrontational (I could have said some other, more negative stuff about Cesar Milan, but I figured that wouldn't be productive). She thanked me and seemed genuinely interested...asked where she could pick it up. I got the impression that she had been a bit uncomfortable with the way the other woman was handling her dog, but she wasn't really sure how to stop it without being rude.

As a side note, when she was giving out treats, Newton ran up and jumped up on her a little bit. She said "sit" and he did....and she didn't do anything. So he downed. And she still didn't do anything, so he jumped up again. At which point, she admonished him for jumping. (where's that emoticon for smacking yourself in the forehead when you need it!) I think he repeated his routine about 3 more times and then gave up without ever getting a treat. Yeah, she was the next dog whipserer, for sure. *rolling eyes*

Anyway, I just had to vent. Every time I think about it I just get annoyed all over again!

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