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Training a depressed dog

Last Saturday was the final lesson for 2 owners that we had trained. I am happy to see that both of them were able to succeed in training their dogs to behave and change for the better, because by doing so the dogs will become stable, relaxed and happy, I enjoy seeing happy dogs.

During the first session, I could easily see that one of the dog had severe depression, I do not like to use the term "Depression" in front of students as I do not wish dog owners to treat their dogs like humans, however in mental conditions like this I definitely have to come up with a suitable word to label the problems, therefore I would find myself using the word "Lack of confidence" more instead, usually the solutions for cases like this are always more or less the same. In this post I am not going to go into the depth of the dog's problem, but to voice out that I am very disheartened to learn about the dog's history, whereby it's depressed behavior was actually worsen by it's ex-trainer, I did not venture too deep into this subject at that point of time as I wanted the owner to just follow through the training without thinking too much about the past, as the training is over and the dog is now in a stable condition, I hope more owners can learn from this mistake and choose the right trainer for their dog's individual problem.

First of all, small dogs should not be using any choking tools, including choke chain and so called Cesar Milan leash, which is just another choke chain made with nylon, the goal is to choke the dogs when they walk or rush in front, to make them give up as they run out of breath, this is a very bad way among the many options to train a dog successfully, of course if the dog has very serious problem that could put other people or animals in danger (provided its size is suitable), then it could be understood. From what I heard after asking about the methods used, the ex-trainer pushes owners to purchase the Cesar Milan choking leash no matter how weak or small their dogs are, once I heard about this, I immediately thought of another case where we had another student who's dog had similar problems (just that it was much worse), I started to ask more details to assure what I had encountered before was the same trainer. During the conversation I learned that the dog was pulled with force when it didn't want to walk, saying to have their chest up and just pull the dog, I also learned that owners should just hit their dog whenever they misbehave, to shy away when they meet other dogs, and worst still, to always pin the dog down if it start misbehaving. It was clear that this so called trainer was imitating what Cesar Milan was doing MINUS the experience and knowledge, I did not know who or where he was from, I did not wish to know either. Many seemed to believe that they can become a dog trainer and expert by watching the dog whisperer show. I do not want to pin point how a dog should be trained as there are hundreds of methods out there, but a dog with LOW CONFIDENCE should NEVER be made to do something with force and violence, it only lowers their confidence even further and cause their problems to worsen, even if there seems to be improvement for that particular issue, for example the pulling method on a depressed dog even though may start walking, in future might be afraid of the leash and develop phobia of certain environment.

In some ways we were just picking up the leftovers from the ex-trainer, who could've eliminated 80% of the problems if the methods were correct, why I say 80% because 20% could be caused by unforeseen circumstances like Genetics, Taken away from mother too early, Owners spoiling their dogs etc. I do not mind to take up this challenge but I hate seeing depressed dogs, learning how it was trained saddened me further, I could not believe that there are such people out there calling themselves dog lovers. Luckily the owner noticed something was wrong and did not follow up the methods, I have seen many dogs developing Collapse Trachea because of this, always remember that health is more important than training, if a certain training risk the health or life of your dog, just leave and find another way.

Please understand that there are trainers with different specialty out there, even if they act as if they are good at everything (this is how business work), they have a preference and are better at specific things. Some are good at Agility training, some at Tricks, some at Obedience and then there is another specialty, which is Training working dogs. Working dogs are very different from household dogs, I tend to believe that Cesar Milan's method work best on working dogs, they are those that are bred for hunting, killing animals, guarding people/house, stray dogs to me are also bred to hunt and kill, if you leave a Shih tzu in the jungle it will probably die in a week or two, not because it was killed but because it does not have the ability to hunt and kill to survive. At this point of time owners need to understand that they cannot use methods meant for working dogs on household pets, especially small breed dogs, if a trainer does that he/she will definitely create more problems that solving them, worst still if owners are not able to apply such methods they are just putting their families and themselves in danger.

Learn to understand different trainer's ability and choose them not depending on how good the review or how many likes their Facebook has, but because they are more suitable for your dog's problem!


  1. And your training is faultless, flawless and therefore you are the "best"?

    1. No, it is just a post to voice our personal views, cheers.

  2. I know which trainer you were referring to. The number of testimonies in his face book is due to the fact that he gives out 'special price' to clients and they have to write him a testimony within a week for that price! I'd say a trainer or owner is really well trained only if the dog remains well behaved for a longer period of time, instead of that mere one week! We all know his reason of stating this time frame for testimony when everything is still fresh, new and 'seems good'.

    1. Thank you so much for the additional information. All we hope for is just to see a happy dog and not the other way round.


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