Gaslighting, a deceptive psychological tactic, doesn’t just occur in personal relationships; it also lurks in the dog training industry. This blog post aims to arm you, whether you’re a fellow trainer or a dog owner, with the ability to recognize gaslighting and offer practical strategies for prevention.
Gaslighting in Dog Training Decoded
Gaslighting can rear its ugly head in dog training when a trainer employs manipulative techniques to control narratives, dodge blame, or affirm their methods, all at another trainer’s or dog owner’s expense. To help you identify these tactics, let’s consider a few examples:
Fact Denial: Imagine you’ve successfully trained your dog to respond to an electric collar, building a positive relationship with your pet. Yet, another trainer accuses you of being abusive for using such a device, blatantly overlooking the visible progress and bond between you and your dog.
Discrediting Experiences: When a trainer disregards your concerns about their recommended technique not yielding results, insisting that you haven’t persisted long enough, they’re practicing gaslighting. In this context, “long enough” is vague and unhelpful. Make sure to ask trainers for clear timelines or ways to gauge progress. You might want to remember the famous words of Albert Einstein on the definition of insanity!
Shifting Blame: Trainers may label your dog as “difficult”, “spoiled”, or “too stressed” when their training techniques don’t work, rather than reassessing their own methods. Admitting ignorance or seeking advice from a mentor takes courage, but it’s crucial for the trainer to acknowledge when their techniques are ineffective.
Spotting Gaslighting in Dog Training
Awareness of the signs of gaslighting can empower you to stand your ground:
Manipulative Behaviour: If you start doubting your own observations or instincts about your dog’s progress or the effectiveness of a training method based on a trainer’s comments, you might be getting gaslighted.
Dismissal of Concerns: When a trainer shrugs off your worries about your dog’s discomfort, distress, or clear signs that the training is ineffective, it’s a glaring sign of gaslighting.
Dodging Accountability: A trainer attributing unsuccessful training solely to you or your dog and refusing to take responsibility for their part is a definite red flag.
Guarding Against Gaslighting – A Tripartite Strategy
Protecting yourself against gaslighting involves these key steps:
Trust Your Instincts: Trust your own observations and intuition about your dog’s behaviour and progress.
Empower Yourself with Knowledge: Learn about dog behaviour, different training methods, and canine body language to make more informed decisions. Think about how you can measure your dog’s progress. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all trainer; if one approach doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to try another.
Choose Your Trainer Wisely: Look for a trainer who respects your concerns, acknowledges your dog’s progress, and admits when their training techniques need modification.
Conclusion: Eschew Gaslighting, Embrace Respect and Cooperation
Gaslighting within the dog training industry can create an antagonistic environment, riddled with self-doubt and guilt. By recognizing its signs and taking preventative steps, you can foster a respectful