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The misconception of ATP's training

In this article I will be sharing on my ideas, training concept and most importantly the misconception people have about our training ideas and goals.

If you've been following the blog, I've shared a couple of times about my experience throughout the years, for those that have not and prefer a short version of it - I've been practicing different dog training techniques for more than 10 years and have made sure all of them would work on similar problems before moving on, I do not believe the one method fits all theory and will always customize program based on 2 things, the personality of the dog and owner.

When we talk about Board + Train program, many may associate it with what they had seen on dog whisperer show, now this is one of the major misconception that I want to talk about here. Honestly I am not a big fan of the current series but I can understand how it works based on feedback of owners whom had participated in the program as well as some information gotten from the dog training circle, therefore it would be fair to us if people can stop associating our program with what they see on television.

I hope that this post will not only clarify the difference with us and celebrity trainers, but also towards any other trainers and training programs that may try to associate themselves and their ideas with ATP.



1.
I do not encourage nervous dogs to interact by putting it with a pack of dogs

There are some nervous dogs that learn that there's nothing else to do to escape from the stressful situation, hence accepting their fate and start learning to survive. The sad truth is that there are MORE cases of dogs becoming so stressed that they start turning aggressive and attack anyone who attempt to get close to them. This becomes a bully game for the rest of the residents, where the pack may get even closer to provoke nervous dogs like this, many times fight break out and the one on the losing side will always be the weaker/insecure dogs.

This happens a lot at boarding/daycare centers where staffs are not assigned to watch over interaction and stop unnecessary provoking of nervous dogs, in return these weaker dogs may become even more sensitive till a point where even slight movements/sounds can trigger fear aggression. And if these aggressive behaviors happen to work, they will soon learn to abuse it as much as they can.


2.
It is usually NOT a case of dominance

I have seen many dog owners advising others to punish their dogs because they are portraying "dominance". I have personally handled hundreds of dogs in my life and I do meet dogs with extreme dominant behavior, but these cases are much more uncommon than you think. People link dominance to behaviors like pee/poo on wrong spot, pawing on people, even sleeping on human lap can be labeled as dominance, and the solution will always be things like kicking or pinning the dog down.

There are so many different training methods out there today compared to my time, these new techniques are not as dangerous (for both human and dogs) and proven to be just as effective, if not even better results than traditional pinning. That aside, the main problem I see is that many people including trainers are labeling fearful dogs as dominant without knowing what they are saying. If you want an average, of every 100 "aggressive dogs" handled, only about 20 are actually displaying aggression due to dominance, remember that I'm talking about aggressive dogs here, not play bite, not over friendly dogs.


3.
Not all dominant behaviors are bad

Dominance are not always bad, it is in fact a useful survival skill used by dogs in the wild, especially males. Even we humans portray dominance and it's rarely a case of violence, a simple gesture of a boyfriend putting his arms on his girlfriend can be a sign of dominance to tell other males that she is taken, it doesn't always have to end up in fights.

You don't jail a man for putting his arms on his girlfriend, but the person would definitely needs to be dealt with if he/she starts displaying violence and cause unnecessary danger to others! You wouldn't reward a man that had just attempted murder(they could be hanged in Singapore), something always has to be done to prevent similar things from occurring again, in fact dogs are usually given more chance to change compared to humans especially, so please don't come and start debating about what's more "humane".


4.
We do not abuse a dog and call it training

Sure, there are lots of definition on what abusive methods are. In my opinion, abuse is when a method is used to traumatize a dog, the goal is to shut its mind down so that the dog will simply follow what the handler wants, this can range from using leash as choking tool to even "force free" method like locking a dog in dark and silent room, even though results may seem instant, there are many potential side effects that can backfire as time goes.

Abusive methods are constantly practiced at dog training schools especially in the US, I have been asked countless times if my training skills are learned from those schools, well I'm here to clarify that I am not linked to anybody. Although I have attended talks/courses by different trainers, these lessons are just for educational purposes and modifying of my personal techniques - I do not believe there are such thing as "perfect" technique so I strive to learn as much as I can.

Correcting a dog and abusing are 2 totally different things but many people cannot understand the differences. Corrections are necessary especially for dogs that possess bad habits that may put other people and/or dogs in danger. However, some have been using "correction" as an excuse for abusing dogs, this in return have affected owner's trust in long term programs and corrective based training.


5.
Our goal is not to change the personality of your dog

Very important!! 

Some owners may think that our Board + Train program is meant to change the personality of their dogs just like what they had seen on television. For example, expecting a dog that gets excited when they see dogs to lose interest, or a dog that is vocal to become silent after training with us.

I have to emphasize again that this is NOT our goal, we do not wish to change the personality of your dog! The reason? I do not believe that changing the personality of a dog is the right way, everyone is born with individual personality and I feel that it is unethical to force a dog to change its nature just because we don't like them.

Just like humans, some are born generous, others may be more selfish, some are attracted to sweet stuff, some prefer sports, some love dancing etc, we don't just force everyone to change their personality to suit us. When you bring your dog over for training, you collect the same dog home and will still feel that this is your dog, unlike most rehabilitation program you are not going to take home a dog that has become a whole new being, this is very disturbing and I'm not sure why some people like this. It's not impossible to change the personality of a dog but there are consequences, you decide.

So how does our program even work? When your dog comes over for training due to certain behaviors that you dislike, I will first study these behaviors first, if they are linked to things like aggression, fear or even anxiety (which they usually are), then I know that these are not your dog's natural personality, but behaviors triggered by specific events. Simply put, many unwanted behaviors are NOT the natural personality of a dog, but traumatizing events that are clouding it's judgement, that is when I come into the picture to remove these thoughts. When bad experiences are forgotten, the true personality of the dog will start to show.

I've trained dogs that were very reserved and quiet, I then figured that some of these dogs are behaving like this because they were very fearful of things around them. After a period of training where all fear is slowly eliminated, the dog became overactive and started jumping on people, the owner started thinking that the training program made the dog hyperactive! Truth is, the dog was very active in the first place but it's ability to think and act naturally was suppressed by fear.

So remember, our goal is not to change the personality of the dog, but to remove the fear and anxiety that resides in the dog, we want all dogs to feel confident and happy about themselves. Which is why many owners, even those without experience in body language will still find their dogs look happier and more relaxed after training with us.

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