Thursday, 23 September 2021
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Viral dog training school video prompts former workers to file complaints

Officials said they’re getting new complaints and have reopened the case involving the Academy of Canine Behavior after a viral Facebook video showed controversial training techniques. They said roughly half a dozen complaints have been filed from former workers at the facility. (Photo: still image from Facebook video)

SNOHOMISH COUNTY – A controversial dog training video posted to social media has outraged dog lovers and triggered another investigation with Snohomish County Animal Services.

It’s a type of training called “alpha training” or “dominance theory training” but there’s a lot of disagreement over whether it’s an effective way to deal with aggressive dogs.

The video that has been circulating on Facebook shows a trainer hitting a dog with a plastic bat over and over.

Officials with Snohomish County Animal Services said the video may look bad but officials said it’s not animal cruelty, and they closed the case.

But now, because of the video going around, officials said they’re getting new complaints and have reopened the case involving the Academy of Canine Behavior. They said roughly half a dozen complaints have been filed from former workers at the facility.

The training technique in question is called alpha training or dominance theory training. It’s used by some dog trainers who try to dominate over the animal and teach the canine to be submissive.

WATCH: Dog training Facebook video sparks outrage

However, the Academy of Canine Behavior said in a press release that they do not condone the treatment to animals that is shown in the video, adding the trainer shown in the clip is no longer working at the facility.

On Wednesday, KOMO News reached out to half dozen dog trainers who specialize in dominance theory training – but no one was willing to talk about the practice.

According to The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s website, trainers for many years have relied on this type of training, adding that research has shown reinforcing desirable behaviors and understanding the animal’s state and motivations is key to training the animal without damaging behavior.

Randi Rossman owns Canine Behavior Science and specializes in training dogs with bad behavior. She supports training aggressive dogs with positive reinforcement.

“If you have an aggressive dog or a fearful dog that you are doing these behaviors to, what you are doing is creating more fear,” said Rossman.

Monique Feyrecilde is a veterinary tech specializing in behavior at Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic. She said that although some may believe there was no physical trauma that required medical treatment for the dog in the video, she thinks it’s reasonable to assume there would be emotional trauma done to the dog.

Officials said the officer interviewed the trainer, staff and a manager, who said the dog in the video was getting the “alpha training” for being really aggressive.

The Academy of Canine behavior sent KOMO News a statement saying:

“The Academy of Canine Behavior’s owners do not condone the treatment of animals in our care as shown in a two-year old video recently released by a disgruntled former employee.

The employees shown and heard in this video are no longer in our employ or have been reassigned.

Snohomish County Animal Control has investigated the situation. No citations or warnings were issued.

Our policy is that all trainers in our facility be supervised at all times and are approved through the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen evaluator program.

The Academy has been in business since 1981. We have had 23,000 clients in our training courses and more than 80,000 dogs have been lovingly cared for in our facility. Many of our clients are on third and fourth generation four-legged family members with us. It is our goal to always maintain that level of trust from our clients and the entire community.

For 37 years, our focus has been training owners and their dogs to develop safe, confident family companions. We have a long history of working with local animal shelters to correct severe behavioral issues, thereby saving the dogs’ lives.

We encourage anyone with questions to contact our facility and ask for Jack or Colleen at 425-486-9567 to answer any questions you may have.”

Officials said they will start the complaint process with the people who’ve now come forward with more allegations.

“I look forward to a time in the future where we can look at animals and be concerned about their emotional welfare as well as their physical welfare,” said Feyrecilde.

Snohomish County Animal Services said they will continue their investigation starting next week.


The Bark Box

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