2016 Review – Glasgow Dog Trainer

A good year for us here. Bruce and Lindsay have been doing well as part of our training team and Gillian has come on learning with us.

Clare Russell and John started Positively Excellent Dog Trainers this year. Initially it was started as a means to develop our own team but soon morphed into something which we hadn’t expected and was very welcome. The students now range from established trainers, new trainers, dog walkers and owners who are enthusiastic about learning more about dog training. We have even had a one of our students embark on a career change due to attending PEDT workshops. The PEDT year culminated with us hosting Kay Laurence, one of the most respected dog training speakers in the world, in Dunblane in November with over 60 people attending each day over the thee days.

John taught on two IMDT 4 day practical instructors course this year. March was in Hertfordshire and September was in Dalkeith.
John will be continuing to work with the IMDT in the coming year.

We also were able to provide proprioception workshops run by Sam Turner from Holland twice this year. This will also be continuing next year.

On to 2017. We have online training in the planning and will be ready to launch in the new year. More big seminars are planned this year and we have two big names who we are hoping to host. Details to come. John is planning his first international teaching engagements also.

This year, as always, we were committed to offering excellent one to one training within our local community. Bruce and Linday’s appointment schedule has increased as well as John’s and this shows that there is a high demand for the excellent training we provide. This is where our business started, and offering the best possible, up to date, ethical training we can will always be the back bone of our business.

We thank you sincerely for all your continued support. We recognise that this year has been extremely hard for many both locally and globally and we will continue to be a positive influence in our dog training, and wider, communitiy where we can.

All the best for 2017.

John McGuigan and the GDT team

A question of ethics – part 2


I heard Kathy Sdao talk about this clip and ClickerExpo last year

Let’s look at this video clip for a few seconds (please ignore the annoying sound effects) and think about the following questions. Magnussen is the bad guy and John Watson on the right is the good guy.

Is this aversive to Watson?
Is Magnussen abusing his power?
Does he know Watson is powerless here?
Is it painful to Watson?
Would Watson rather he wasn’t in this postion or subjected to this treatment?
What is the relationship here?
What is Magnussen trying to achieve?

Although this is a scene from a TV programme all these points are worth considering when we apply them to dog training.

If we are using a tool or technique where the dog is either working to avoid the application of the tool or working to have it’s application removed, it is, by very definition, aversive. Pain shouldn’t be the entire barometer of whether to use a tool or not.

Years ago I had a boss who used to micromanage and nit-pick everything. When he was around, our actions were constantly subjected to the most detailed scrutiny. Nothing he did was painful to us but it was very stressful working under him. The results were that some of us started to push back against his authority and other shut down. Productivity went up hugely when he was on holiday. His very presence was aversve to the team and his absence was a huge relief.

If you are going to use any training tool, these are things we need to consider and consider with much thought rather than using the bog standard “it doesn’t hurt” response. I once heard an e-collar trainer describe the low level stimulations (shocks) as being like an insect bite, nothing more, just a bit unpleasant. Would you rather not be bitten by an insect. Have you ever been in your bedroom at night and can hear a mosquito buzzing around? Do you leave it be or do you get up and try to remove it? Even the slightlest unpleasant consequence can accumulate to something very stressful. A stone in your shoe? Remove it or walk around with it all day? It doesn’t hurt, right? So it can’t be that bad.

We hear e-collar and prong collar trainers justify the use of their tools by saying it doesn’t hurt the dog, it’s merely information to the dog. Would the dog rather you didn’t apply the stimulation (shock) in the first place?

To quote Dr Susan Friedman – “Effectiveness is not enough”


Oh, Magnussen gets his comeuppance in the end.

A question of ethics – part 1


I was at the office today (our local park) doing a consultation with a man and his Labrador, working on recall and loose lead walking (connection). We have a really nice community at the park on weekday mornings, the professional dog walkers, the power walkers without dogs, the recreational cyclists and the dog people walking their own dogs.

There is a fella who I see who has two GSDs who he has trained to a high level from the brief glimpses I get of him (I see him several times over the month). He appears to use positive trainng methods from what I can see. He uses food to reinforce the behaviour which he likes and I’ve never seen him physically correct his dogs. When he asks the dogs to do something though, he’s not really asking, he’s telling.

This fella knows I’m a dog trainer and from reading his body language (he never says hello to anyone etc) I get the impression that’s he is trying to show me how it’s really done. Today (and every other dog he sees me), he put his dogs in a sit stay in the middle of the path and walked away. There were other dogs and people around walking past his dogs. The dogs were transfixed by him and then he called them, they raced towards him and then held a heel position targeting his hands for about 50m or so. They were then reinforced with food. Impressive? Yes, maybe. Ethical? I’m not so sure. If this had been in competition for a dog sport, then yes, it’s impressive. If it had been in preparation for that dog sport competition, then yes, cool also. My issues is that it’s done for the benefit of all those watching and at the dogs’ expense to boot.

For me it would be far more impressive if his dogs were walking with him off lead, moving forward in front of him, sniffing, moving with him when he walked on and behaving in an appropriate social manner with dogs and people. But they’re not. The appear to be automatons, with little choice and not allow ot behave like dogs (I’ve never seen them sniff when out)

Training with positive methods isn’t enough. We need to train with an ethical mindset too. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Until next time, have a great Christmas.

John and the Glasgow Dog Trainer Team