Dog trainer says owners are being ‘ripped off’ by growing industry ‘scam’
A veteran dog trainer has warned owners are trapped in an industry ‘scam’ which is getting ‘bigger and bigger’.
Steve Moran has worked with puppies for over 30 years and currently runs Stublach Training and Boarding Kennels in Byley, Cheshire.
The handler, who began his career working with hunting dogs, says pet owners are being ‘ripped off’ by fraudulent trainers looking to cash in on the dog ownership lockdown boom.
He added that these scammers claim to be accredited trainers – although there is no official governing body in the UK, Reporting live from Birmingham.
He also believes some trainers are using methods that do little to stem the rise in dog attacks. He was particularly critical of those who use a one-size-fits-all approach, including “non-strength training”.
Mr Moran said: “The way I train a German Shepherd may not be the way I train a Labrador. The way I train a Labrador may not be the way I train a chihuahua. But now they all do things like “tricks for treats” – that’s not dog training.
“What it is is a license to print money. It’s a scam and this scam is getting bigger and bigger.”
He talked about how dogs, especially working dogs like German Shepherds and Border Collies, have prey – the natural instinct to chase prey. Steve said activities like throwing a ball activate this prey drive and encourage the dog to hunt.
And he said that’s part of the reason why some dogs get out of hand when chasing things like sheep or other dogs while on the loose. He said: “Anything that moves activates its prey and it has already been trained to hunt.
“That’s where the epidemic of dog trainers comes from – they’re not dog trainers, they’re not qualified. What they do is cash in on a cash cow after the lockdown.
“A lot of that is ‘no-strength training’. Basically, you can’t leash a dog or yell at a dog, but these people have no knowledge of working dogs.
“And if you threw a ball to get the dog’s attention – when you let that dog out into a field and there’s a flock of sheep, bingo, you’ve got two dead sheep.”
He also explained why he thinks the ‘tricks for treats’ method also doesn’t work for all dogs: “If you hold a treat for the dog and he starts barking, people who train think “oh, they’re enjoying that” when in fact the dog is frustrated and actually says “give me the treat, I don’t want to sit down”.
“So what’s going on? The dog, especially something like a German Shepherd or a Border Collie, chews on the hand of the person feeding it to get to the treat because it doesn’t want to go around.
“They train with these techniques which aren’t good when you let them go. They have no call backs so the dog won’t come back when you call them unless you have a treat.”
Although he criticized the coaches for only using non-strength training, he said that didn’t mean he was using strength. He reiterated his belief that there is no single method that works for every dog and trainer.
“It’s subjective – there are no ‘experts’ and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. It’s about being able to read the dog, but instead there are trainers who say this way is the right one,” he added.
“People are looking for a dog trainer and if you go online you will find more dog trainers than pebbles on a beach. Many say they are a ‘certified’ dog behaviorist. There is no such thing , but people will see that and think ‘they have to know what they’re doing’.
When asked what advice he had for clients, he said to make sure they research trainers carefully. One thing Steve said he does is post before and after videos of dogs in his care.
Steve’s concerns come after dog ownership figures skyrocketed during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. The percentage of households owning dogs rose to 33% in 2020/21, after remaining constant at around 22% for the previous 10 years.
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