Dog trainer, educator or psychologist?
Many people tell me the same thing, that they like dogs, that they would even like to dedicate themselves professionally to it, but they don’t know where to start. I don’t want to be a guru of anything here, there are already too many of them, nor do I think you are right in everything I say, but that is the first advice, absolute truth does not exist and therefore no one can be in possession of it.
The world of dogs covers many aspects, and the interesting thing is to know a little about all of them and then, if you want, go deeper into one of them in particular. But the problem about the dog world is not the lack of information or places to find it, on the contrary, everyone knows and has an opinion, but a created opinion goes to know where and by whom. Everyone has heard, seen or simply knows that dogs are one way and behave this way, in complete safety, and they will even allow themselves to argue if you try to make any small objections. But the height of the absurdity is that, in the middle of the discussion, they say “I don’t know much about dogs”, and then they continue to refute you.
Veterinary studies do have serious studies that are agreed upon by all the scientists so that for specialists distemper is distemper and is treated the same in Madrid, Burgos or Paris. In addition, the new veterinarians have a regulated career that means that they all have the same training anywhere, but let’s imagine that this was not the case, that there was no veterinary career and that there were only healers who have learned their techniques from observation and practice. Everyone would draw their own conclusions and their own theories.
Many things would agree, as they would all face the same problems, the symptoms of flu for example, but each one would call it a name and cure it according to what was at hand, with a sangria or some herbs, go to know. The healers would have their own apprentices, who would not have come to the conclusions themselves, but would have been given them by the great teacher as the great truth, so that you would not later tell him that the bloodstains are worthless because they want to burn you at the stake.
This, which reminds us of the Middle Ages, is what happens, more or less, with dog education. The dog’s body is well studied, supported by the knowledge of human medicine, but the dog’s psychology and behavior have no solid scientific basis, no consensus, and no regulated studies. That’s why there are so many gurus.
Surely, the most representative example is Cesar Millan and is that if you ask us about the largest specialist in canine behavior worldwide, many people will immediately think of him. But let’s take a look, his endorsement, which is the beginning of his international success program, is not his studies, but his special hand with dogs because he grew up on a farm. What he comes to explain is that the observation since childhood and his natural talent with dogs is what has made him who he is, and the fact is that over the years he has developed his own explanation of the mind of the dog and his personal method based on the concept of hierarchy, developing a vocabulary and techniques of his own.
The imitator of the Spanish version, Borja Capponi, exploited the guru side, even more, emphasizing his special hand with animals at the beginning of his program: “Since I was a child I loved dogs. I communicate with them in a special way, and I have a gift for understanding them. Without judging anyone’s techniques, the message is more like that of indigenous healers than that of modern doctors. I can’t imagine my surgeon boasting that he is missing a few subjects to finish his degree but that I’m not worried because he has a lot of hand with heart transplants. But it is also true that there have always been healers and some of a certain fame.
What is certain is that, in the absence of an agreement, it is normal for everyone to look for the best way to solve the problems, as is the case here in Spain of Ken Sewell, an Englishman who has been living in Barcelona for many years, and who also uses a method based on observation and practice with dogs over a long period of time. He has also developed his own vocabulary and behavior modification techniques, and has had to find, on his own or with the support of his etiology studies, an explanation that fits in with what he has observed.