I couldn’t agree more, so with the author’s permission I decided to host this here as a guest post.
“The past little while has been pretty disturbing to me. Particularly the past few days. I’ve spent most of my life with computers. I used online communities before there was an Internet, communicating via telephone coupled modems on private “bulletin board” systems. That experience showed me the value of free-speech and open dialogue. But it has also shown me that the nearly utopian “democracy” of the online world will expose you to all manner of crazy.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised but it had never occurred to me that Crazy can have a day job and that the day job might just be “dog training.” Now, let me be clear, when I say “crazy” I don’t mean “passionate” or “opinionated” or “know-it-all” or “sarcastic asshat.” I mean real live “holy-shit-who-does-this-kind-of-thing” crazy. Lots of folks can passionately defend their views on dogs and behaviour in a way that some people consider offensive without rising to the level of “crazy.” I have been accused of doing that myself.
No. Crazy is a whole different animal. Crazy is having alternate Facebook personalities because you have blocked people on your main account but you still want to see what they might be saying about you. Crazy is having conversations between your alternate Facebook account and your “real” Facebook account in the same discussion thread as if you are really TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Crazy is threatening other online dog trainers in private messages because you disagree with them. Crazy is creating pages specifically to destroy the credibility of a PERSON rather than openly debate a concept or idea. Crazy is asking those “When did you stop beating your wife?” type questions to win an argument. And the list goes on.
Those familiar with the online world know that this is nothing new. It’s the kind of garden variety crazy that we have come to expect in the online world and most of us just ignore it and move on. We shake our heads and perhaps give a pitying chuckle to these “crazies” and their causes. But in this case, I think there is some collateral damage. For years people like Karen Pryor and Suzanne Clothier and Patricia McConnell and Ian Dunbar (and many others) have been trying to move the dog world forward by involving science and new approaches to living and working with dogs. Unfortunately, Crazy seems to have hitched its wagon to this new wave of dog training.
In the 1800’s, British pollitical philosopher John Stuart Mill said that “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” There are some simple and obvious facts to consider. Crazy is loud. Crazy attracts attention. Crazy is persistent. Crazy isn’t afraid to play fast and loose with the Truth in its pursuits. Most importantly in the online world, Crazy splashes itself around. Those of us involved in the progressive dog training movement stand a real chance of getting tainted with Crazy just because people have seen us around it and not saying anything against it.
In the end it doesn’t matter what quadrants you prefer or the fact that you have used science-based training to earn countless performance titles with your dogs. It doesn’t matter that you can demonstrate that behaviour analysis has improved your training with your dogs. It doesn’t matter if you can show the bad effects of the wrong kinds of training collars. What will matter is that you are associated with Crazy.
And that will make dog owners think twice before they believe what you are saying or pay for your services. Remember it’s all out there on the public record for anyone to read on the Internet. I don’t want Crazy defining who I am and what I do with dogs and training. Whether you are “Force Free” or “Positive Training” or “Progressive Training” or “Mark and Reward Training” or any of the many other variants for progressive training, make sure that Crazy doesn’t define who you are.”