Got an aggressive or reactive dog who just bit you in the face? Let’s blame Canada!

Baby Buster Brown says, “Even universal health care and the Vancouver Canucks cannot make up for Brad Pattison. I think I’ll take my chances in the United States.”

I’ll have to make this post brief since I’m still pretty busy stabbing myself in the temple with an ice pick to permanently remove the mental remnants of the “interview” I just read on the site for British Columbia’s PetsLife Magazine with Vancouver’s resident dog “trainer”, Brad Pattison.  Thank you, Casey Lomonaco for leading me to this ripe source of SNL quality fodder for the next 20 years, which is apparently how long Super Brad, self-appointed “behaviorist”, has been practicing the art and science of comedic relief in the dog world–too bad he’s probably injuring owners and getting dogs killed in the process.  Otherwise, it might actually be funny.

Super Brad says, “Hey look at me! I have no professional education and preparation, or ethical standards grounding my practice! How about you let me tell you what to do with your dog now, eh?”

I’d love to see Brad’s interview paired with a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, but for the time being, we’ll have to settle for just his own words, which certainly offer up quite a show all on their own.  Alcoholic beverages, a good sense of humor, and perhaps a peanut butter filled Kong laced with LSD or Xanax are highly recommended for further reading.  I suppose I could temper my cynicism a bit here to win over some readers who may have gone to the dark side with Brad, but honestly the only thing to do with this other than to laugh or ridicule it, is to curl up in the fetal position and wait for the end of days, because that is exactly what’s coming for us and our dogs if we continue to tip toe around this kind of absurdity.

Here are some of the real gems . . .

Brad on books and reading:

PL: Were there any books that you read to help you along the way?

BP: I have read lots of books.  One I recall is by Dr. Karen Overall, Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals.  Great information and Great book!  But just remember that it is Clinical, you need to be very careful that you fully understand the language, circumstances, and design of the set ups.

Brad on his professional education as a behaviorist:

PL: How do you become a dog behaviorist, and do you consider yourself a Dog Behaviorist?

BP: Presently there is no real schooling for it, but you can take some courses.   I was given the term by Veterinarians because of my ability to get into the dogs head and figure out what is going on.  I have been studying the behavior of dogs for well over 15 years now.  I don’t need a degree in something to understand it or be an expert on it, not when I have been studying it most of my life.

Brad on taking classes to learn how to become a behaviorist:

PL: Have you taken any classes or courses on Animal Behavior?

BP: Not any courses but I have attended seminars and lectures at the World Veterinarian Conferences.

. . . .

Brad on his  . . . “methods”:

PL: How would you describe your training method?

BP: I’m not really into titles, but I have been told by Pet Industry Professionals that it is the most Humane.  I allow dogs to be dogs.  Not running the risk of obesity, not jumping up, and not running away.  I am not designing new bad behaviors, just eliminating them and creating good, well mannered, thinking dogs.  The CTE method is loving, caring and uses pack learning.

Brad on percentages and enlightenment:

PL: Give us the “brochure intro” to the CTE Training Course.

BP: It is 6 straight weeks of class.  We push our students to mental capacity.  You must achieve 80% or higher in every part to pass.  Its enlightening, life changing, and beautiful!  I’m not saying it is the best course out there but it is the best course I have been able to put together.

Brad on credentials:

PL: Do you have any credentials or certifications?

BP: Yes I do. CTE and a life of experience.

Brad on how clicker training kills:

PL: One of the claims you have made was that clicker training or treat training “kills dogs”.  How did you come to this opinion?

BP: Well there was a lady in Calgary who told me a story that her dog couldn’t hear the clicker at a crosswalk.  She quickly tried to pull treats out of her pocket, but the dog ran into the road and was hit by a car while trying to chase a leaf.  There are also a number of articles out there that show Reward Based Training increasing health problems in dogs such as Obesity, Heart Disease, and breathing problems.  Obesity in dogs is rising quickly.  And in my opinion, clicker training is great in a controlled environment like inside a quiet barn.

Brad on “science”:

PL: A lot of critics say your methods go against modern science and peer reviewed scientific research, what are your thoughts on that?

BP: They sure do! Goes against a lot of the science.  Science isn’t always right.  Science is limited, and in a controlled environment.  Science works in a lot of different capacities, but it isn’t the be all and end all.  There is a blind spot in science.

Brad on pinching puppies and service dog training:

PL: In your new Puppy Book, you advocate pinching a puppy in the ear until it yelps  as a training strategy. Why do you believe using this method is preferable to using alternative methods that do not cause pain and are scientifically validated ?

BP: You want to know where I learned this trick from?  The Service Dog Industry!! Who, by the way, often use treat training! I don’t come up with all those ideas! I learn things from other experts in the Industry that I can use and apply to what I do! It is a great technique and that is why I talk about it and use it.

Brad on . . . his complete inability to use disciplinary terminology to describe his methods because he has ZERO disciplinary or professional training:

PL: Describe the use of nicking the tip of the dogs nose.  When is this to be used, and how?

BP: That is difficult to explain.  Lets say the dog has a chasing cars or bikes issue. So before the dog starts pulling and goes into “flight”, you want to interrupt the dog.  You might snap the leash, or quickly grab the tail, or startle them by coming across their nose.  It is basically something that can startle the dog take away the focus quickly and move it onto something else. It is not a painful manoeuvre for the dog.

Brad on “pinning” . . . and we don’t mean on Pinterest:

PL: Describe when, how, and why you would “pin” a dog.  What is the benefit to this technique?

BP: The action of pinning is to be used when people have lost control of establishing a higher rank than the dog.  If the dog is being belligerent, taking control on walks, or when people are starting to get into the trouble zone with their dogs, the dog may need to be put back in rank by being Pinned.  Used only in severe cases.  I pin dogs, maybe 2 times a year.

Brad on breed specific legislation . . . something tells me even the Peach wouldn’t like Brad:

PL: What is your view on BSL(Breed specific legislation)?

BP: Hmm.  I think that the governing bodies have a very difficult job ahead of themselves.  There are 2 different groups saying 2 different things and it is just a warzone.  That isn’t where we will find a better solution.  People need to know that some breeds are not meant to be family pets and are completely unpredictable.  All breeds have needs, and if the needs aren’t met, there will be problems.

Brad on the lesser-known 5th quadrant of operant conditioning, massaging:

PL: Do you think your methods use Positive Punishment?

BP: No, because we don’t punish dogs!  We interrupt the dog, that’s our big thing, then we praise them like crazy by massaging them!

Brad on basic learning theory:

PL: Can you define some of the basic learning theory constructs in dog training:

-Define extinction and it’s use in dog training
-Define Premack Principle and its use in dog training
-Define the difference between a primary and a secondary reinforcer and comment on their relative use in dog training

BP: The Theories are simple.  They come from dog to dog relationships and interactions.  They come from understanding and paying attention to what their rules are.  Not what we perceive to be the proper rules.  That shows how they learn!  It is fulfilling their needs and being diligent and responding to those needs.  If your dog needs to be interrupted, you better do it! Pretty simple!

Brad on how scientific medical evidence in veterinary medicine is a bunch of baloney:

PL: This one is directly from one of our Readers.“I have a rescue dog here that has extensive throat damage from being on a chain most of her 6 years. The slightest pressure on her collar causes her pain and respiratory distress. How would he go about training and managing this dog if a collar can not be used? My vet has informed me that ANY collar use could possibly cause her throat to become inflamed to the point of axphiation. I really want to know Brad’s opinion.”

BP: I’d say lets go get a second Veterinary opinion.  In the 20 plus years I have never heard of anything that absurd, and it is absurd sounding, so it raises red flags.  I can’t really comment on that until I have as much Scientific Medical Evidence to back up whats going on.  I would go for a second and even a third opinion, and then please feel free to contact me as I’d love to help.

Brad on how dogs are masters of manipulation like spoiled children:

PL: In response to pinning your dog, ‎from your book Synergy. “I have all my clients perform this twice a day for a minimum of twenty repetitions; however you may need to do more.

“Reactions to be aware of during this exercise are grumbling, whining, heavy-breathing, yipping, shrieking, clawing, thrashing, and throwing back the head.

“What your dog has been able to get away with in the past will be one factor in how your dog responds to this exercise. If your dog believes that it has some Alpha dominance in your pack, you will have a harder time. In extreme cases, some dogs that were totally household dominant in their families have defecated or urinated during this exercise. Never stop this exercise until you have won!

“The pinning exercise may take up to 1 hour. Wear a long sleeve shirt, and if your dog is prone to snapping or biting, prepare him with a properly fitted muzzle.”

~ Synergy(2009) p.84

Your critics say that this is the dog reacting from fear.  What are your thoughts on this?

BP: That isn’t true.  I have seen it happen and its different from dog to dog.  Dogs are masters of manipulation.  They will pull anything they possible can, like a spoiled child, to avoid being “de-throned.”  There are so many different situations with this.  I have seen dogs defecate going into the vet, while having a collar put on and more!  There are so many different reasons why a dog will defecate or urinate, but it isn’t always fear!  Every situation will be different.

Brad . . . on the fact that he’s entirely unaware of how fundamental the ability to read dog body language is in the dog behavior and training world:

PL: What is the body language of a fearful dog?

BP: That is impossible for me to answer, every dog will be different.

Buster’s body language says, “Hey Brad, I don’t know man, you sound a little nuts to me! How ’bout you skip pinching my ear and we just read a Jean Donaldson book together?”

Brad on how treats are like cigarettes and the “treat training industry” who peddles them:

PL: Why do you think your methods and books are labeled controversial by the dog training community?

BP: Well it isn’t the majority of the dog training community, it is a handful of them.  I’ve been told it is because me and my CTE’s are threatening the treat training industry so this is the response.  Apparently we are taking big dollars away from those trainers and companies.  Treats are like cigarettes, they become addicting.  I don’t have a problem with giving your dogs treats, I give my dogs treats sometimes, I have a problem when people are treating their dogs continually for the most simple things.  It is dumbing down the dog.

Brad on . . . ????

PL: What are your thoughts on the findings of this particular study:

“a study that found dogs trained by positive reinforcement methods only were least aggressive, least fearful, easiest to manage and control, and engaged in less demanding behaviors like excessive barking. (Blackwell, 2008). Thus force-free training keeps many dogs in their homes as happy and easy to manage members of the family while “balanced” training (positive reinforcement and punishment), which leads to a higher rate of reported behavior problems, is leading dogs to be relinquished to shelters and euthanized as most notably by this study. According to the results the “balanced” trained dogs were not only the most aggressive of the entire sample population but the biggest range in aggression occurs between “balanced” trained dogs and positive-only dogs.”

From http://www.smarthund.com/whypositive?language=en&version=1

(there’s a chart on the linked page showing the data).

Citation for Blackwell is:
Blackwell, Emily J. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research – September 2008 (Vol. 3, Issue 5, Pages 207-217, DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.10.008)

BP: Ok, well when a pet food company does a commercial and says that a study showed that their food is the best or the healthiest, that is their study!  Their own study on their own food.

Take a close look, numerous red flags.  Not a whole lot of information, it only points out the good, and gives very little detail on those.  The study compares using positive treat training vs using positive treat training and a style like mine together.  The study just says that dogs given 1 training method were better trained than dogs getting 2 styles of training methods at the same time.  Of course it would.  You are giving the dog conflicting messages by using 2 methods.  The dog isn’t going to know what you want it to do that way.

Well, enough about Brad.  Peaches’ next project will be working with Cartman and his Kitty to reengineer the Blame Canada song to address everything that is wrong with the dog training world.  Except this time, it really is Canada’s fault . . . or at least one of their residents.

Sure, I do jest, sort of.  But please take the time to consider (or reconsider) my climate change and dog training post in the context of a world full of Brads.  These are the people who are actively promoting themselves to vulnerable rescue groups and uninformed owners who have neither the time nor the resources to expose these folks for the frauds, hacks and unethical, clueless bamboozlers that they are.  The last rescue group that I volunteered for had a Brad swindle them with his bag full of baseless tricks.  And when I was unable to effectively persuade them that that bag may be full of nothing more than magic beans that coincidentally might be toxic to all of their dogs, I left, and I haven’t volunteered for another group since.

About emily douglas

Emily Douglas authors The Unexamined Dog blog and writes regularly about "pit bull" advocacy, humane education and the parallels between the education field and the dog world. Emily and her dog, Peaches volunteer as a registered therapy dog team in the Southeast Michigan area, where their visits are affectionately known as Peach Therapy.
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