Fear based dominance training is NEVER the way to go!

Many of us find ourselves employing trainers for our dogs. After all we are not all Dog Whisperers, and sometimes a pet presents a problem we can not solve so we look to the experts, or should I say the “so called” experts. But just exactly how do we know the trainer we choose knows what they are doing? There are a million dog training “professionals” out there, and every one of them claim THEIR way is the right way.

Okay so here we are, bombarded by a myriad of trainers all with different training methods, and different claims of success. But are they really all successful? Does their method REALLY work? Of course not, it just SEEMS to! Worse yet is the fact that not only will some of them have you throwing good money away. Some of their methods are actually harmful to your dog!

I was recently contacted by one of our members in Arizona. She had been attending a home show and a dog training company called “Dog Training Elite” was set up giving demonstrations.

Here is her account of what happened:

While attending this home show on Friday, March 1st, I walked by a booth selling dog training.

They had a mixed breed dog demonstrating by following basic commands from his handler. I stopped and said in a joking way, “If that were a Dachshund, I would be impressed”. At that point they asked me to wait and walked over to a crate and called out a very timid and nervous dachshund. The handler then commanded the dachshund to jump up on a step. She immediately obeyed. She never took her eyes off the handler as if scared to death she would miss a command. I reached down to pet her and noticed she had two collars on and one had a plastic box attached to it. Then looked up to see the handler had a device in his hand, a transmitter. Horrified, I asked if this was a shock collar. The reply was yes. I told him this was wrong, very wrong and that I was disgusted by them! I walked away but took note of the company’s name, knowing I would come home and find out more and do what I could to stop this inhumane treatment of these precious animals.

Well of course my friend did go home and she contacted me very disturbed by what she had witnessed. I assured her that I would look into the company, and I was very disturbed by what I found. The following is a screen shot from the website of the company in question. Please note that ALL clients must supply an electronic collar to be used in the training of their dog!


WTF? Firstly shock collars are a last resort, if no other method is working, and your dog is aggressive then a shock collar may be necessary AFTER you have tried everything else! This company goes into training with the use of a shock collar being expected (this is clearly true or clients would not be required to provide one for their dog.) They haven’t even assessed the dog’s needs but require a shock collar? Something is wrong with this picture don’t you think. Secondly, just because something is on the market to aid with training doesn’t mean it is safe or humane. They used to use shock treatment on humans in mental hospitals, but that practice was discontinued because it was hazardous to health.

Here is a link to a study on the use of shock collars for your own perusal:

Are Shock Collars Painful or Just Annoying to Dogs?

Personally I believe that fear based training can be hazardous to your health. Yes I said YOUR health. We already know I think it is hazardous to your dog’s health, but why do I say it is hazardous to yours? The answer is simple, a dog trained with fear will always be looking for an opening. What do I mean by that? That’s simple too, any dog that lives it’s life in constant fear is always going to be looking for a way to strike back and end the suffering you are inflicting on them in the name of obedience. They will be unstable, and unstable animals can be very dangerous!

So why would a dog training company use this method? Well that is simple too. Any fool can hold a shock collar control and use it to fear train a dog. After all abuse is not rocket science even the most backward idiot can accomplish it. But they LOOK like they are getting results so the general public will fall for it every time. That would be because the general public is woefully uninformed when it comes to dog training. Besides that these trainers will blatantly ensure that shock collars are harmless.

Here is what shock collars have done to past clients dogs who had to call me in to try to rehabilitate their dogs after the shock collar trainers were done with them:

I worked with a Bouvier des Flandres who was reactive to visitors and my client’s grandkids. She was instructed by a previous “trainer” to shock the dog for growling or nipping. The dog’s reactivity soon launched into full-blown aggression that required treatment by a behaviorist. She called me, it took over six months to rehabilitate her dog.

Another client used an electric fence to contain her friendly, socially gregarious Golden Retriever. He would rush to the fence line with a wagging tail to greet visitors, only to receive a shock. Within weeks, he was growling and barking as people approached because he associated their visit with unpleasant things and had adopted a “the best offense is a good defense” strategy. It took well over eight months to rehabilitate the dog and he almost bit four children in that time. Before use of the electronic fencing he was the neighborhood’s friendliest dog.

Both of these owners purchased shock tools in desperation on the advice of so called “dog trainers”, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. They were hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they ended up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques.

This photo was taken at a "Dog Training Elite" demonstration. Do you seriously think THIS small breed dog needs to be trained with a torture device?

This photo was taken at a “Dog Training Elite” demonstration. Do you seriously think THIS small breed dog needs to be trained with a torture device?

What disturbs me so much about this company is this, if they are so all fired great at training a dog why is it that in every photo where we see them working with dogs the dog is wearing a shock collar? The measure of how good a dog trainer you are does not come from your ability to abuse an animal on the fly. It is clearly the collar that is controlling these dogs and not any actual training that has taken place. These people have not trained these dogs they have merely taught them to fear pain when wearing the device. As long as such a device is strapped to them they will obey out of fear. Remove the device, and the obedience it has created will go right out the window. So really what we have here is a group of people teaching dog owners how to torture their pets into submission.

I am here to tell you that ANY trainer who automatically requires the purchase of a torture device before taking your dog into their training program is NOT a trainer! They are a person with absolutely no real knowledge of dogs who has decided to use questionable tools to make a living off the backs of innocent animals. You should avoid them at all costs.

If you live in the Phoenix Arizona area please steer clear of “Dog Training Elite.” Fear based training causes more problems than it solves! Moral of the story? I know there is a better way. Your dog is your partner and friend, and will gladly do what is expected of her if you only teach her what you want her to do. The truth is, it is never, ever ethical to punish your dog, if you haven’t first taught her how to stay out of trouble by teaching her what you expect of her.

Be proactive about preventing training problems and intervene at the first sign of an issue — dogs don’t grow out of behavior problems, they grow into them. Consulting a qualified behavior professional at the first sign of trouble will save you a lot of money, a lot of grief, and maybe the life (or at least the quality of life) of your best friend.

You have a choice in how you want to approach training your dog, but you should know that not all techniques are equal in terms of the potential for fallout and unpleasant side effects. Fear based dominance training is NEVER the way to go! “Dog Training Elite” and companies like them should be ashamed of themselves for making a living off of abusing people’s animals in the name of “training”!

Until Next Time Remember



P.S: please DO leave your opinion here in the comments section! We really want to know what our readers think of this training method!


3 thoughts on “Fear based dominance training is NEVER the way to go!

  1. Ok, I am NOT a behaviourist, nor am I a trainer, but I have NEVER believed in shock collars for goodness sakes, I don’t see the necessity at all. Possibly as means of a last resort, if at all, but manditory ? Dog Traning and rather trainers should be licenced and regulated somehow.

  2. We hope for the latter as well! No dog should be trained with fear and pain. Thank you for your comment we wholeheartedly agree!

  3. I totally agree that this kind of training is to be used only as a last resort, when nothing else has worked and it is either put the dog down, or try this. All we can do is try to educate every dog owner that we meet that this NOT the way training should be done. If we educate enough, these kinds of places will either change their training or go out of business. Frankly, I hope for the latter.

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