In the past 4 decades dog training has suffered an almost mortal blow through commercialization and a general degradation of ethics and morals about the practice itself. This has occurred as the role of the trainer has shifted from its origins of a more clinical practice to one of either Hollywood inspired silliness, outright con for money schemes and business models or even franchises! Imagine if the same thing happened to, oh, say, Christmas........oh, wait......
What we have today is a conglomeration of fools, criminals and wannabes claiming to be "trainers" and "behaviorists" who do nothing to serve the public let alone animals and simply stuff money in their pockets while leaving a trail of disappointed customers and sometimes even dead dogs and scarred children in their wake.
Sorry for the wake up call, but this is the real deal and state of the industry. It's creating complete havoc among the unsuspecting public with problems with their dogs. While we've seen the number of these supposed "professionals" increase at an alarming rate (check Craigslist, the sewer of the Internet for proof) over the last 15-20 years, we've also continued to watch euthanasia and bite statistics go through the proverbial roof. If the number of decent and honest trainers were increasing at the same rate pet ownership has increased over the same amount of time, those numbers would, at worst, stay stable. At best they would be decreasing as the number of well adjusted and educated dogs and homes increased. Instead, the opposite is true and the training industry has been perverted and polluted to the point that I regularly see clients who have been the victim of 3, 4 or even 5 other "trainers" who either failed completely or made the situation worse. I had a client call last year and simply state - "We've got a trainer, but our dog has bitten him so many times we got so tired of watching him bleed and administering first aid that we told him not to come back!"
On the other end of the scale, this year I watched an old, well-established "rescue" I've worked with for years adopt a dog with a well-known and documented history of intense aggression to a young couple with a 5-year old daughter and a baby due a month later! It took less than a week for the dog to bite the child in the face and scar her for life. The "rescue's" response? Long story short, they killed the dog after placing him in a sanctuary and then stealing him back when they though they were going to be prosecuted for the bite!
These kinds of situations can ONLY be solved by a return to the seriousness the dog training and behavior industry once held in the public eye. This is NOT entertainment, and it is NOT something everyone should or can do. Handling a dog is not rocket science. Diagnosing the problems and teaching the solutions to the humans can be and takes an experienced and knowledgeable, as well as ethical, professional hand to be accomplished. It is also not something that has "evolved" in the last 30 years, or 50 years, or even 100 years. Dogs and humans have been paw in hand for tens of thousands of years. Your local ex-electrician who bought a dog training business in a box has NOT come up with a "new way", "whisper", or "certification" that will help you. In many cases, at best it will convince you to get rid of or kill your dog, and in some it can literally put you, your family and the public in very real danger when we're talking about dog or people aggression issues in a canine.
I once witnessed one of these franchise purchasers in the Islands tie a dog with a people aggression problem to a tree and then stand back 15 feet beating the ground with a length of chain and screaming at the animal. This, he told the client, would solve the aggression issue and calm the dog down. With a little research I found the guy had gotten out of the Air Force six months earlier and had been a hydraulic technician before becoming a "Certified Master Dog Trainer" for a $63K investment with "Bark Busters"!!
Nightmare stories like this abound, enough that we've put a special section on the Site to hold them for people to look through and learn from. In over 35 years involved in this industry, little surprises me, but a lot of stuff still makes me want to mark the carpet.
This is not to say you cannot find a decent, qualified, experienced trainer operating under one of these banners. But one must ask oneself, "WHY?" If you can pick up a leash, train and / or rehabilitate a dog and pass the knowledge of how to do so on to an owner, why would you need to buy that business model in a box? I suggest to people whom I cannot help personally due to distance or schedule to look for someone with at LEAST 10 years experience and a sterling business reputation in the community. Longevity is the best measure of a trainer, not marketing budget, testimonials, trophies or - God forbid - fake certificates from the clubs and associations out there.