by Carmen LeBlanc, MS, ACAAB, CPDT

Dear Netflix,

As an expert in the field of animal behavior (an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer), I’m writing to express my dismay that you’re airing a dog “training” show, Canine Intervention, for mass public consumption that:

  • Glorifies long debunked training methods rather than showing modern, proven, dog-friendly best practices
    and highest standards in our industry.
  • Glorifies another self-declared “trainer” with no national credentials in the field of training, much less in behavior therapy or modification.
  • Creates another male celebrity in a field dominated by highly qualified, educated and credentialed female behaviorists, behavior specialists and trainers.

The problems with “training” through punishment, fear and intimidation (as demonstrated with appalling ignorance and cruelty on this show) are well documented in the scientific literature of learning theory (the science of animal learning), of applied behavior analysis (the science of changing human and animal behavior), and specifically of dog training.

Fear, intimidation and pain have long been shown to add fuel to the fire, to exacerbate problem behaviors, to put people and pet owners at risk, and to produce observable, unwanted side effects in the dogs.

Professional, educated, credentialed behaviorists and behavior specialists use specialized techniques (e.g., desensitization, counterconditioning, differential reinforcement, response substitution, and extinction) to address and resolve the underlying emotions that trigger the problem behavior and resolve the root cause (usually anxiety and fear), rather than temporarily suppressing its outward symptoms (e.g., aggression).

In addition to being effective, powerful, transformative and comprehensive techniques, they are kind and humane for the canine learners. It breaks my heart personally and frustrates me professionally to see you air a show like this that is profoundly unscientific, dangerous to pet owners, cruel to dogs, and wholly destructive to the human-animal bond. That is why we’re canceling our Netflix subscription and exhorting you to cancel the show immediately.