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I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One on TV

By Michelle Mullins, CPDT - KA

So, I’m training for a 39 mile walk in May to support the fight against breast cancer. The last few weeks I’ve developed pain in my knee and the training has been tough. I’ve been tuning in to Grey’s Anatomy for help diagnosing and treating the pain. Ridiculous, right!? What if I said I’d been seeking help from the Dr. Oz show? Still not going to help, you say? But he gives loads of medical advice and has experts on his show. Still don’t think I’ll get the help I need?  

Of course you and I both know I need to go to my local doctor for medical treatment. So why do we rely on TV shows for training and behavior issues with our dogs?   I’m not bashing anyone who stars on these shows.

I’m saying your dog, your situation, your goals are unique and no one inside the screen can evaluate all of those variables and provide you with what you need.  You will not learn all of the skills you need to train your dog or recognize your dog’s body language from TV.  

You will not be able to develop a realistic training plan for your situation by watching a show. So much footage is cut from these shows you really only see a brief before and after of any dog.   Training results are not instantaneous despite how it appears. You don’t see the entire process.   If your dog has a serious behavior issue, you need a professional. A veterinarian may need to be consulted.  

Puppy Class at the Richmond SPCA  

No two dogs are the same. Some training methods can be inappropriate for certain dogs and may actually even make a problem worse or create additional issues.  

Your dog needs you to learn the skills and take the time to teach him to be a great pet.  So check out local trainers  in your area for everything from basic skills to more advanced and fun classes like teaching tricks, agility, scent work and more. Only by working with your own dog and a real live trainer will you reach your training goals.  

TV cannot provide you and your training the benefits that come with training with others. Your dog will learn to respond to cues in a variety of environments and with distractions. The camaraderie with classmates can be invaluable.

I’ve made friends, heard about management and training that worked for others and made great friends at training class. Even though I’m a professional trainer myself, I love being a student because it’s just so much fun!  

So enjoy your favorite shows as entertainment and perhaps as encouragement to exercise and spend training time with your dog. Or better yet, lose the remote in the couch cushions and sign up for a class, go for a walk, or train a new trick with your own dog!

Brisbane and Michelle

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