We as professional trainers live in a world that balances both the needs of the dogs and the needs of the humans. We support patience, understanding, education, and advocation. We align ourselves with science and against abuse. We advocate for behavior change through humane processes. We educate ourselves, our clients, and our communities.
Yet all too common we get attacked by our own. Instead of respectful, educational, conversations we are attacked and belittled. It can be hard to have such an intense passion for the humane treatment of animals and remember that to avoid the things we are so abhorrently against that we need to use all of our wonderful skills.
Use objectivity and the understanding of the behaviors, the client, the needs, and safety and put them all into play. Do not shame other force-free/fear-free professionals or those trying to do better. Guide them to better solutions, guide them to resources, and support.
When I began my training career I was treated like garbage by two of the biggest trainers in my area. It was idle gossip but it was still hurtful. Then began exploring dog sports and people would offer unsolicited advice on how to handle my dog or dogs. What I was doing wrong or laugh at me for thinking there was a better way than using fear, force, pain, or intimidation.
Not once through my first several years of training did anyone offer support, guidance, or resources. They just bashed me for not being on their level. Not having the same college degree as them. Then I met a hell of a trainer who changed my perspective on trying to make trainer friends.
When I discovered a community of like-minded professionals I was ecstatic. That was until a comment on a thread that took into consideration an elderly client with a high energy breed struggling with walks who lived in a condo and had to take the dog out to go potty. I recommended the freedom harness.
I was brutally insulted by this other professional force-free trainer (so they said) that this dog needed to be given all skills off-leash and then slowly on a leash all in the home While that is my normal go-to protocol. It didn't fit this families best interests for the dog or the humans.
We needed management and that was hard as the dog had to go outside to eliminate and needed to be on a leash.
Now the freedom harness helps prevent pulling but changing the dog's direction and allowing the owner to more easily and safely keep their dog with them and reinforce the proper behavior without the use of pain, fear, intimidation, or force.
Let's just say the resulting tirade of anger was shocking. The same person who was against the use of aversives was using them on me, in an attempt to change my mind. Now let me be clear when it comes to animal abuse and willful ignorance you need to stand up and shout and make a change. But there is 0 reason to shout at those who are on the same team and standing up for the same rights and changes as you.
Even when dealing with those on the other side compassionate, respectful, education goes a long way to helping them make better-educated decisions and come into the year 2020 where we don't need to abuse dogs to get them to work for us.
Look at Michael Shikashio and the guy from Dog Impossible. Instead of turning away from him or condemning some very condemn able actions he opened up and took the step to help make a positive change in his life and the lives of everyone who that man works with. Helping to dispel myths and hopefully prevent scary and unethical methods from being continued. There are no guarantees that any of that will occur However, it can absolutely be a step in the right direction.
I wish I could say that one time was all, but its been dozens over the years and usually from the heavy handed professionals, it seems to be more and more among our own professionals. The ones who work hard for the credentials, advocate, volunteer, teach, train, and educate.
Many force-free/fear-free trainers are actually cross over trainers. Meaning they felt and saw a need to find other forms of training dogs they work with. Understanding this and maintaining the same level of compassion as you have for your clients goes a long way to achieving the changes that legislation may take decades to achieve. Harnessing your passion into constructive forms has a larger impact on the community as a whole.