The following is a snippet from an article written by journalist, Judd Spicer.
Wanna get Don Sullivan growling? Mention those dog food companies and their treat-driven portion of an industry that saw Americans spend a whopping $60 billion on their pets in 2015.
“People don’t want to hear the connection between treat training and behavioral problems,” says an animated Sullivan. “The dog food companies are making tons of money off of treat sales, and there are 4,000 vet offices owned by the largest of these companies. They don’t want to know – and they certainly don’t want dog owners to know – that handing a dog a treat instantly says that the dog is the leader and the person is the follower.”
Sullivan explains: “In the animal kingdom, the dog that gives up his food to another is the submissive one. Now multiply this by the number of tasty morsels you ‘lovingly’ offer your pet day after day and you suddenly realize why your dog is challenging you in many areas of your life with him. Sure, yes, you might have an advantage over him in terms of size and weight, but take away the restraints like the leash, baby gates and shut doors, and who knows what disasters will quickly ensue?”
Referring to the practice of treat training as “bribery,” and seeing the treat-trained dog as a “fat actor,” Sullivan is ardent about dog owners earning true respect from their pets.
“The spread of dog treats has caused such a deception because they’ll say you’re being positive by giving the dog all these rewards, yet the dog’s behavior doesn’t produce positive results in the owner’s life,” Sullivan says. “As a result, a complacency has dangerously crept in whereby dog owners are being ever-accepting of poor behaviors that aren’t going away. I counter that when you use only praise and play as rewards for good behavior and balance this with properly applied corrective-style training, those problems will disappear in days.”
The DogFather has made a career successfully challenging wide-held beliefs that the best way to turn around problematic dogs is to shower them with treats. Sullivan warns that this is the worst thing people can do. “It opens the door to all kinds of disobedient and dominant behavior from your dog toward you and other human beings,” he explains. “It’s no wonder we’re witnessing a virtual aggression epidemic with over 1000 dog bite victims sent to an ER each day – and that’s in the United States alone! My battle is to get people to stop believing a lie and wake up to the simple solution: Ditch the dog biscuits; reward your dog’s good behavior with lots of physical and verbal praise, exercise and play; and, realize that a bit of discipline is not a bad thing, it’s the best thing.”
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