Thursday, January 3, 2013

How the Internet Led Us Astray

If you're like us, you ask the internet for advice on everything. What's a good pasta recipe using peas? When is the Super Bowl? How do I train my dog?

With food, of course

It turns out that last question isn't such a good one to ask the internet. There are as many dog training opinions as there are people with dogs, and not all of them will work for your dog. Today we'll be sharing the two main pieces of internet advice that have not worked for us.

Squirt your dog with a spray bottle as punishment.
We used this on Badger for about a day before we realized that he actually liked being squirted. No harm done, but definitely no problems solved either. And since we don't have any plants, we never used the spray bottle again. Instead, we've found that short time-outs are the best way to calm Badger down and "reset" his behavior.

Badger wants to make sure everyone knows this photo was staged for blog purposes

Let your dogs fight it out to decide who's "alpha".
This one is a lot more potentially dangerous, not only for the dogs, but for any power cords, furniture, and bare human feet that are in the area. We are fortunate to never have had any serious injuries, but Badger and Mushroom have moved couches, broken a laptop, and scratched up my feet (L wears socks). We still don't know who's "alpha", but we decided that having peace in our apartment was more important. We are now vigilant about preventing scuffles before they happen. Even if they're just playing, we make sure they don't get too excited.

Peace at last

We love the internet, but if we could do it all over again, we would have chosen to ignore the above advice.

Have you tried dog training advice from the internet? How did it work?


  1. I Google everything, so I've tried looootttsss of internet advice with Athena. Usually I hardcore research the topic though and find out all of the different ways that people deal with the issue before I decide on how we are going to conquer it.

    The one issue that I searched the most when we first brought Athena home was mouthiness, play biting, niping, etc. People have a toooonnnn of advice on these issues and much of the advice was ridiculous (do a dominance roll on your dog, squeeze their muzzle any time they bite, knee them in the chest when they jump up and bite, etc.). I did try some of the online advice though. For a while I yelped whenever Athena would bite me. She actually got more excited when I did that and would bite more. Next I tried turning my back on her. She would just bite my ankles then. Next I tried removing myself from the room for a while. She would just be extra bitey when I got back in the room.

    The only thing that stopped Athena's bad biting habit was advice from our trainer...which I then researched online. We sprayed Bitter Apple in Athena's mouth once when she bit us and then we never had to spray her again because just the sight of the bottle reminded her not to bite. Now when she puts her mouth on us (which is nothing like it was before) we say "no bite, give kisses" and she will lick us instead.

    So I agree that the internet can have some funky advice! I do often find good advice too though!

  2. I think that any dog training advice online has to be taken with a grain of salt. Like Athena's mom said, research is the best option to take prior to using that advice. I like to know what type of trainer they are, if they are a dominance based trainer that advice i avoid, and also if that technique would work on my dog's personality. Taking a good reward based trainers opinion and tweeking it to how it would work on your dog is best. Quick time outs have worked best for Trinity at home. It stoped her puppy bitting and helps her to calm down when she gets to excited. Otherwise i would be sitting with a handful of cheese clicking every time she chilled out but she wouldn't cause she would be begging for the cheese. Plus she loves being with us and not being with us is terrible for her. One advice I got online when i first got Trinity was to teach her a word for going potty, we say release just in case someone says the word potty i didnt want her to think that she was free to go inside the house, I love that we did cause it helps when going on walks and off-leash hikes.

  3. I think it's sad how much controversy there is between different methods of dog training. Each dog is as individual as each person. I like to think of dog training advice and tools as ideas that we can pick and choose from and find out which works for our dog. I would never squirt Cabana with a water bottle--one look or word will stop her from doing something undesirable. But I have had to squirt a previous foster dog with one. In fact, I couldn't be without a squirt bottle when I was around this foster because it was the only thing that would stop her from going berzerk.

  4. I ask the internet about everything too, including dog training. though there is just as much debate in real life and all dogs are different. When I brought Shaka home, the vet told me I needed to always reward the alpha dog first when feeding, walking or giving attention so the other dogs would know their place. I nodded, but thought to myself that is complete bullcrap. She also told me I was asking for disaster have 3 adolescent pit bulls, esp. 2 females together. It turned out my only problem was finding a spot for myself on the couch:/

  5. As far as dog training advice, I do consult the internet, but in a different way. I follow reliable bloggers! :-) Actually, we were spoiled in that I had found a trainer before I found a dog so I had a nice foundation to work with.

    One of my favorite sayings I ever heard was "when you choose your adviser, you choose your advice." I guess all of the opinions we have to choose from make a bit of sense up to a point.