Pet Professional Guild Australia (PPGA) has raised its concerns over Network 10’s new dog training series Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.
The show features UK dog trainer Graeme ‘The Dogfather’ Hall using his training methods to help correct problems in dogs.
Sarah Campbell, President of the PPGA, said that Hall’s methods include using physical force, intimidation, and fear to gain the wanted behaviour in troubled pets.
“We are concerned viewers will be misinformed by Mr Hall’s archaic, quick-fix and aversive dog training methods. Managing dog behaviour can be a challenge but achievable with positive solutions.”
The PPGA has sent letters of concern to Network 10 about using Hall in the Australian version of the TV series currently airing in the UK and on Channel 7Plus, co-signed by several leading force-free dog training bodies, animal welfare experts, professional associations, and animal welfare organisations, such as the Australian Veterinary Association, Delta Therapy Dogs, Companion Animal Network Australia and PetRescue.
“We are also concerned the program title Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly implies the dog is naughty and places the blame of the problem behaviour on the dog. This misconception is worrying because dogs are often either displaying normal dog behaviour or they suffer from a disorder that makes them anxious or aggressive,” said Campbell.
A Channel 10 spokesperson said that the throughout the production they went above and beyond to ensure the dogs were the beneficiaries of the process and best practice was followed at all steps.
“While the title may be tongue in cheek, the show very quickly establishes the truth of the matter – it’s the owners whose behaviour needs to change.”
The spokesperson also stated that Channel 10 take animal welfare seriously and sought to set the bar high with their approach to dog training on Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.
“We had a behind-the-scenes animal consultant with a diploma in dog behaviour working with both the production team and Graeme Hall to ensure we followed positive reinforcement training at all times.”
Campbell also said that the TV series’ ‘quick fix’ advice also creates unrealistic expectations among dog owner viewers.
“This ‘quick fix’ type advice often uses inhumane, outdated aversive techniques that display a limited understanding of dog behaviour, and – science tells us – does not address the underlying problem and will fail in the long term.
“In reality, complex pet behaviours are not resolved easily and quickly, and may require working closely with veterinary professionals,” explained Campbell.