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Investigative Report Into A Doggy Daycare Shows Why You Need To Do Your Research

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tonight, KMSP Fox 9 News aired a piece (please DO watch the video) about a local doggy daycare facility that, to be honest, left me absolutely speechless. The dogs were treated in a manner that was utterly appalling.

To the common layperson, using a prong collar to train, pulling a dog by it’s ears enough to cause pain, twisting a dog’s penis to teach them to stop peeing are not only outmoded forms of training, they are cruel, and they have been proven to lead to behavior issues in dogs later on.

There are a lot of people out there who work with dogs. Not all of them have your dog’s best interest at heart. Some of them do not even have a lot experience working with pets, or may treat your pet in a way that you wouldn’t want them to be treated. I wrote a blog post a while back about the need for owners to be their dog’s advocate. I cannot stress this enough. Whether it be a dog trainer, a doggy daycare or a pet sitter, you need to do your research. You need to know what methods they use to train your dog, discipline your dog, work with your dog, etc.

Understanding the latest in dog behavioral science is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but perhaps this information shared just this past week by Dr. Sophia Yin (a veterinarian with a Masters in Animal Science) will help dog owners to understand that knowing who is doing what to your dog is so important. Because the latest information shows that aggressive training techniques lead to an aggressive response from a dog. I learned about this information 2 years ago and shared it on my blog, but it is worth sharing again:

The highest frequency of aggression occurred in response to aversive (or punishing) interventions, even when the intervention was indirect:

• Hitting or kicking the dog (41% of owners reported aggression)
• Growling at the dog (41%)
• Forcing the dog to release an item from its mouth (38%)
• “Alpha roll” (forcing the dog onto its back and holding it down) (31%)
• “Dominance down” (forcing the dog onto its side) (29%)
• Grabbing the jowls or scruff (26%)
• Staring the dog down (staring at the dog until it looks away) (30%)
• Spraying the dog with water pistol or spray bottle (20%)
• Yelling “no” (15%)
• Forced exposure (forcibly exposing the dog to a stimulus – such as tile floors, noise or people – that frightens the dog) (12%)

In contrast, non-aversive methods resulted in much lower frequency of aggressive responses:

Training the dog to sit for everything it wants (only 2% of owners reported aggression)
• Rewarding the dog for eye contact (2%)
• Food exchange for an item in its mouth instead of forcing the item out (6%)
• Rewarding the dog for “watch me” (0%)

(Data from a study by, Herron, Frances S. Shofer and Ilana R. Reisner, veterinarians with the Department of Clinical Studies at University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine)

This is why it is so important to know who is caring for your pet. Not knowing, could put you, your dog or your child in danger. You need to do your own research. After all, it is your best buddy you are talking about here right?

  1. Kristine
    November 18, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    Ai yi yi. I’ve never brought my dog to a day care but we have considered it. In fact, I won a gift certificate recently at a local charity event. Before I take her there I’ll have to ask around to see what other think of the place first.

    It pains me that people could take advantage of the average dog owner’s lack of knowledge in this way. I don’t understand why.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2010 at 5:56 AM

      Ai yi yi is right Kristine. When he was younger, I brought Jasper to one once. The facility was nice and they had cameras on 24/7, but the shell-shocked look on his face when I picked him up was enough for me to decide that it was not for him. It’s wasn’t tiredness. It was like he had been too overwhelmed and didn’t quite know how to cope with it. But, that’s just him. Some dogs love doggy daycare. I would also ask if they have cameras too. I wouldn’t take my dog to a doggy daycare without them. Keeps them honest (even if they were all along).

  2. November 19, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    UGH, that video makes me scared to leave Jersey in a daycare. Why any dog trainer would think that twisting a dog’s penis is okay is beyond me.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2010 at 6:52 PM

      Thanks VV. I agree. It makes me scared too, but I know not all doggy daycares are like this. The sad thing is many of her clients went online to express their support of her and her methods. 😦

      • Wendy
        November 20, 2010 at 12:31 AM

        I am one of those clients that went on to support her, because the video was soooooo one sided that you can’t see the true training techniques. Instead of assuming that everything on the news is true and accurate, why don’t you go the facility for yourself and then make a decision. You saw former employees making statements. You saw someone shake a rake and make a maintenance repair with a hammer.

        Sadly – you didn’t see all the great training and positive reinforcement. Yes, I personally use a pinch collar. But the amazing thing is, if you are trained how to use it properly, you very rarely if ever truly use it! I really don’t know what you “saw” on the report that was so appalling other than thew news trying to sensationalize a comment about twisting a dogs penis when it never happened to a single clients dog. So to me, the sad part is that news gets to twist things, and create a negative image of a great facility, great trainers and amazing clients based on a few clips. I challenge you to come to our facility. And on top of it, I challenge you to have a discussion with the owner on the interventions listed above. We don’t force dogs to drop items from their mouth – we teach them to release it with a command. We don’t hit or kick our dogs, or yell at them. What you will see is rewarding the dog for focusing their attention on us, and while we use cookies to start – after that, it is all about the positive energy I give my dog. I call her into my space and let her lick my face. But sadly, again, you didn’t see that.

      • Dogssaved
        November 20, 2010 at 3:13 AM

        Aren’t you even curious why clients have supported her? In what appears to be a month of secret taping there is no video of penises pulled hammers clipboards or anything else thrown at dogs. There are ears pulled in their Life Issues program for dogs that are runners. Better that they know they must stay with you or face consequence than to scrap a dog off the grill of a car. Great stats here but how many in the study were already aggressive? I have 3 dogs and one is docile and obedient. The other 2

        are fear based aggressive. I do not train them the same. After 4 mos at this facility my aggressive dogs are calmer and happier. There is so much more to the story. I have now seen first hand that if someone is motivated to destroy you, they can manipulate things to do so.

  3. katie
    November 19, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Ugh, My parents had a Newfoundland that they would bring to doggy daycare often to allow him some play time with other dogs so he wouldn’t be so lonely while they had to work. He started showing really aggressive behavior toward me when I would come to visit and ended backing me up into a corner. Now if any of you know what a Newfy looks like, it’s pretty scary, especially when they look like they are going to attack you. They are like a 160 lb black bear ready to attack. He had been showing aggression to my mom also and then to my dad. Sadly enough he had to be put down for his distemper and aggressive behavior. He WAS a great dog and it never occurred to me that it could have been from Doggy Daycare. What a shame, I hope that place gets put out of business and the people there get the same treatment they gave those animals.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2010 at 6:58 PM

      Thanks for sharing your experience Katie. My dog Daisy and I used to have a Rottie friend at the dog park she used to love playing with. About a year ago, his parents started taking him to doggy daycare and he started to change. His reactions seemed to get more aggressive. I don’t think his parents made the connection, but I am certain that the daycare probably contributed. (In fact, I’m ertain because I know someone who works there and was told he was getting more aggressive.) Not because the staff was particularly bad or mean (although they do use alpha rolls, etc.) but because some dogs just don’t do well in doggy daycare. In fact, many trainers knowledgeable about doggy daycares don’t even like the places because it tends to overwhelm a dog with constant stimulation which can be detrimental over time. That’s why I recommend that clients who want to use doggy daycare do so only a couple of times a week.

  4. kathy Patregnani
    November 20, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    Sorry folks, I train and teach at Dogue Spot. WE DO NOT PINCH PENIS. If that was a normal practice do you not think since they had undercover cameras there for such a long time they would have seen that? There was one girl who states this, and they believe her? You can have your clicker trained dogs. I train with balance, just like a pack of wild animals LIVE with each other. If one steps out of line, the pack leader will quickly and aggresively put it into place. AND THEN ITS OVER. I have a 15.5 year old bitch- NEVER have I had aggresion from her. I have a 10 year old dog- again not a lick of aggresion. I have a 5 year old dog- no aggression and a 2 year old dog- again, no aggresion. Do I correct my dogs physically- heck yeah, do I hit them with hammers, raquetes, pull their penis for marking, heck no. My dogs love me and I DO DO what is best for them. Just walk a rude dog by my dog and have that dog come up into my dogs face- you won’t have my dog in your face, you will have me. Thats rude behavior and because you can’t control your dog and won’t tell them its wrong they will not barge into my dogs space. I keep my dogs safe against rude dogs. Back to my dogs, they love me and you can see it when they work with me. They respect me, and I them, and we have a wonderful relationship. I show my dogs (FYI I have the number one dogs in the country in both agility and obedience right now- English springer Spaniels & Irish Setters) and EVERYTIME I come out of the ring- weither we qualify or not people ALWAYS say, “oh that was so beautiful, you can just see how much they love you.” That because I beat them right? ANd FYI, new alert, yes, I have pulled on my dogs ears for not coming when called. They STILL LOVE me. You see people, I train my dogs from a pack management mentallity and it works. A quick correction, make them right and praise when they are correct and they DO NOT hold a grudge nor do they shut down.

    As for Day care makeing dogs aggressive, hogwash. But then again, i guess that depends where you take your dog. I you take them to a positve only place that does not correct, you might get that. Take them to Dogue Spot you will get a healthy well rounded dog.
    Now the true test….will you post this.

  5. Shannon
    November 20, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Its really too bad that the News report was so one-sided. You have no idea what goes on in this facility. There were so many untruths and allegations of so called abuse it was sickening. I know that if you are not familiar with the facility and its owner you would think that what you see is abuse. But if you actually saw the whole picture, you would understand what you were actually seeing. The more I read peoples comments the angrier I get. This news report was very damaging to this business and I really think that was the intent of it. I read a quote the other day that seems to really fit this situation: “People’s perception of things depends on their ability to absorb what you say..and most people will only hear what they want to hear.”

    There were things that were shown completely out of context. I did not see anyone abuse a dog. No dogs were harmed at all. What did I see, I saw an employee shoo a dog away from eating dog poo when she was cleaning up their waste. I saw an employee swing her leg to back dogs up. I did not see her kick a dog. I saw her pound Nails into the deck so a dog would not harm themselves by catching their paws on them. I saw her back up dogs with a hammer in her hand, but I did not see her swing it at any dog or raise it towards any dog. The dogs needed to back off so she could get her work done for their own good. Oh, I also saw her swing the gate door open a few times to get the dogs down from jumping up on it. Non of these things I saw were abusive. I am not a dog trainer but I am a dog lover and if I did not know anything about this particular business, I would assume the same as you. You think, how could the news be wrong? Right? How could they report anything but the whole truth? Think about it this way. Innocent people are prosecuted everyday for crimes they did not do. They are imprisoned and not found innocent for decades. Then its too late. If things were being said about you that were detrimental to your livelihood would you not want someone to say ok, please tell me your side of this story so I can make an informed conclusion. I know I sure would. Before you make your conclusions, don’t you think you you owe it yourself to check out the business for yourself. Don’t you think that in this economy, that you owe it to all small business owners to find out the truth. Their doors are open all the time during the day. They have nothing to hide.

  6. Erin Wagner
    November 20, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    I am a client that brings my dog to this facility. I use them for both daycare and for training. I have been to three other facilities prior to coming here. The unfortunate part about the story is that it is not accurate. My dog is a very important part of my life. I treat him as one of the family. I have expecations of him and he has expectations of me….just like the other members of my family. My goal is to have a happy well balanced dog and to keep him safe. I have learned how to achieve this at Dogue Spot. First and foremost they teach you about creating a strong relationship with your dog. None of the other training facilities that I attended ever even discussed this. One was totally treat based, one was no treats allowed and the third was training in the use of a shock collar. At Dogue Spot, I am able to achieve results through the use of relationship building skills and believe me….these do not include anything that would harm my dog. This facility did not invent the pinch collar. Instead they have taught me how to use it properly so that I don’t harm my dog. This facility does not use hammers on their dogs, they used a hammer to repair a deck so that the dogs would not injure themselves. This facility does not hit dogs with rakes, instead they pride themselves in promptly picking up after the dogs to discourage them from eating the feces of other dogs. This facility does not use tennis rackets to discipline dogs. They are used as an extension of the arm and are only used in the case of a dog fight. They are not hidden, they are hanging on the wall. The dogs are discouraged from barking and jumping on gates and doors because this is what most pet owners would expect of their pets in their own homes. It’s an added bonus that this is reinforced throughout the day. It makes our home training all that much easier to accomplish. The point I’m trying to make is that before you judge a facility based upon a one-sided news story brought on by a previous competitor of this facility who has since gone out of business, please check them out for yourself. They have an open door policy. When you enter the building you walk right into the daycare area. They are certainly not trying to hide anything. They provide a fun and loving environment to both care for our dogs while we work and to help us to train them to be well balanced members of our families. Dogs don’t lie. They aren’t cabpable of it. My dog is absolutely crazy over Dogue Spot. He is so happy to get there and walks through the door with his head held high and his tail wagging. If he had ever been treated poorly in any way he would not act this way. I would like to close in saying thank you to Dogue Spot for providing the service you do and for helping me to become a better pet owner.

  7. November 20, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    This “appalls” ME! Honestly…I’ve loved animals since I was a kid. I founded a rescue…a reputable one! I have been to seminars by Pat Miller, Suzanne Clothier. I have trained at TCOTC and with other primarily trainers. I am OPEN minded. I have a method that works for me. It hurts to know these people who I opened up to did this. Ask yourself this? They were there between 2 and 7 weeks between the two witnesses. I allow CELL PHONES in my daycare even for staff. Where’s the proof?
    Have any of you seen my dogs? Have you watched up work? That cannot be a facade. Animals do not lie. I have horses; abused and mistreated horses are even more apparent that dogs. This is a nightmare. An absolute nightmare. Disagreeing with one’s methods is one thing (I disagree with MANY including E-collar training) but to go to the media with unfounded allegations and harm someone’s passion and tarnish my staff and clients…that’s abuse.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinions but for people who are daming me for allegations make me wonder. I think some of the most positive people when it comes to dogs are the cruelest to their own kind. Really makes me sad…

    • Mel
      November 20, 2010 at 10:56 AM

      Tiffany – I actually feel sad about this whole situation. As a business owner, I cannot imagine what it must be like to have a devastating news story done on my business. And, I do agree, sometimes we in the animal biz can be quite harsh with one another and judge each other rather quickly. I was not there to see what was alleged, so I cannot tell what is true and untrue (I am assuming the same applies to your clients, since many of them would have been at work when their dogs were at daycare.), but the point of my piece was to remind people that they do need to do their research when hiring someone to care for their pet, just like they would for a child. Not everyone is going to have the same philosophy when it comes to training or caring for a pet that’s why it is incumbent on all of us to know who we are entrusting their care to before we hire them. Do they have the same philosophies as we do about animal care? Do they train the way I want my dog to be trained? Do they understand general dog care? What have other clients said about their service? These are all things pet owners should be asking when they ask someone to care for their pet.

      Regarding some of the other comments posted today:

      The fact that it was “former” employees who made the allegations does not necessarily mean they are lying. If I were working somewhere where I felt the person or business was doing an injustice, whether it be to animals or people, I would have to quit too. I could not in good conscience continue to work for a place that treated people unethically or if they were doing something illegal (Note: I am not referring to you here, but a business in general). For some, it may seem like this was a personal attack on you and your business, but to me, it seems like these women took great lengths, with personal risk to their reputations and futures, to expose what they felt was wrong. That is simply my opinion.

      Perhaps most disturbing (for me) was the interview with your trainer when the question was asked, “Have you ever hurt a dog… caused it pain in training? Or, to keep it quiet. Or, to get it out of…” and she responded “Um… as in like bleeding? No. I’ve never caused a dog to bleed.” There is a lot of painful things that can be done to a dog before bleeding occurs, but she skipped right to “I’ve never caused a dog to bleed.” Meaning what? That I’ve caused pain to a dog but have never caused it to bleed? Or, I’ve never caused pain to a dog? And if the answer is the latter, why not say so outright?

      Then the question was repeated by the reporter, “Have you ever caused a dog pain?”. The response? “I wouldn’t think so.” Why not a straight “No”? Did she mean that she “wouldn’t think so” because she didn’t know for sure? Or, she “wouldn’t think so” because she knew that she had and couldn’t answer “No”? Again, I was not there so I cannot know what really happened, but the answers she gave were unusual.

      I personally do not believe that an animal HAS to be hurt or that pain HAS to be used in order for a dog to be fully trained. That is simply my belief. There will be others who feel that pain is the only way to go. I am not saying you believe this, but some people will. I simply choose to disagree.

      I am saddened for the pet owners who may feel like their trust was misplaced. I am sad for the dogs who may (or may not) have been hurt in your facility. I also feel sad for the other great doggy daycares out there who will likely suffer as a result of this report that appeared on Channel 9 this week.

      The truth is there are few winners here, no matter which way you look at it.

  8. November 20, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    This report disturbed me and the dog trainers, dog day care operator, and pet sitters who saw it and commented on my Facebook wall. To be fair, I realize that there are always two sides of the story. BUT—things that we saw on the video that Dogue Spot employees did even when they knew they were on camera were very disturbing to me. These methods, like any bullying behavior, might work on some dogs for a while, but will probably backfire eventually.

    Let me comment on what bothered me when I watched the video with the sound off (eliminating allegations and focusing on what was shown).

    One of my first impressions was that they had too many dogs in a small space and had more dogs together than they could properly control. The people were yelling and making noise to get the dogs to be quiet. The people’s body language didn’t appear calm and didn’t appear like pack leader behavior. The people appeared to be on the edge of control. Rachel Augst particularly appeared stressed and tightly wound, but that could be because she was trying to answer the questions w/o implicating herself. She appeared to have a limited understanding of handling dogs w/o resorting to physical force. That is not “dog whisperer” behavior. It represents “crazy” to dogs and the alphas don’t display that kind of behavior. Her energy seemed like she was looking for a fight and on the edge of control (even on the hidden cameras, when she wasn’t being confronted with questions).

    A pinch (a.k.a. prong) collar was used improperly and in a way that was confusing to the dog. A pinch collar is meant to be self-correcting for the dog so the dog can choose not to pull. It loosens up when the dog is not pulling and tightens up when the dog pulls too hard. Pinch collars are NOT meant to be jerked on by the person. Jerking on a pinch collar and then using a treat is definitely mixed-up training–very confusing for the dog and doesn’t allow the dog to make their own correct decisions. This is NOT proper use of a pinch collar and indicates that the trainer doesn’t know what they’re doing. The fact that the Dogue Spot thought this was ok to show on camera was a red flag for me. The fact that they may be teaching other people to handle their dogs this way was even more disturbing!

    The trainer who was punching the dog on the nose didn’t need to do that. Yes, it probably wasn’t really hurting the dog. But just holding the hand still and not giving the reward until the dog backed off would have worked. She didn’t need to pop the dog on the nose. Teaching people to train their dogs that way is unnecessary and may lead to problems at home if the dogs decide to defend themselves.

    The best trainers don’t appear to be doing as much because they understand dogs. Pulling a dog by the ears the way the trainer did on camera is wrong, wrong, wrong, and so necessary. This woman is clearly lacking intelligence and kindness with respect to the dogs in her care. The fact that they think this is ok at the Dogue Spot was another red flag, very alarming. And (going back to the trainer’s explanation when the sound was turned up) using this as a correction for a dog who didn’t come when called is very disturbing and confusing for the dog. Would you come to a person who pulls you by the ears like that? How does the dog know that the ears are being pulled for the dog not coming when the ear pulling can’t occur until the dog comes to the person? Ouch, ouch, ouch! The fact that someone would think this is a proper training method or proper treatment of a dog is a huge mistake and very sad. Even the psychology of it is messed up. There are 1,001 better ways to train a dog to come that don’t involve pulling ears, but you only need to come up with one. Ears are very sensitive. Someone who resorts to this method and thinks this is ok when there are so many kinder, gentler ways that work better has a limited imagination and limited patience and isn’t approaching the dogs out of kindness.

    Why did the woman with the hammer attempt to make repairs with all the dogs there? Why didn’t she just wait until the dogs were inside to do the repairs? Again, it seemed like they had too many dogs in the yard and the trainers didn’t have control over them.

    All right, let’s talk about the video with the sound on.

    How come so many former employees, who appeared to be interviewed individually, are concerned? The former employees seemed very credible and believable. No reason has been given for why they would make something up. They seemed to be genuinely concerned for the dogs and the people who don’t know any better and are not protecting their dogs from these techniques.

    Rachel Augst dodged the question about whether she had ever caused pain to a dog and didn’t give a straight answer. It appeared to me as though she was trying to change the question so she wouldn’t have to answer honestly.

    People who apparently knew nothing about training their own dogs and let their dogs get completely out of control took their dogs to the Dogue Spot, and the dogs’ behavior improved. Just because the trainers at the Dogue Spot knew slightly more about dogs than people who knew nothing, doesn’t mean they knew what they were doing. Just because some dogs responded to physical intimidation and are now behaving better doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean there won’t be more serious problems long-term. Eventually a dog will defend itself if “attacked” or backed into a corner often enough. One of the most disturbing parts of this video was the customers who drop their dogs off at the Dogue Spot, don’t know what happens when they’re not around, and defend this place and continue to take their dogs there. These people aren’t protecting their dogs!

    What some people don’t understand is that you can train dogs effectively w/o bopping them on the nose, jerking them on a pinch collar, dragging them by the ears, etc. Dog owners who try to use these methods at home may get themselves hurt and cause aggression in their dogs. Smart trainers who understand dogs have 1,001 ways to train dogs w/o resorting to these confrontational techniques that may be physically harmful to the dog or the person.

    A follow-up news story showing effective ways to potty train, teach dogs not to rush the gate, quiet them down, and how a pinch collar should and should not be used (if used at all), etc. would be a great service to the poor dogs whose owners need more education. Sophia Yin’s book “How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves” is a great resource. Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) principles are much more like real pack behavior and work wonders with dogs w/o using direct confrontation.

    Based on what I saw in the video (even with the sound turned down), I wouldn’t train my dogs at the Dogue Spot or leave them in their care. I bet the Dogue Spot doesn’t have a “doggy cam”! They’re doing things to dogs that are just not right. The real life alphas don’t behave that way and your dog deserves better. People whose dogs were desperately out of control and went to the Dog Spot need to know that there are more effective and humane ways to train dogs (train people) and better places to get help. NILIF techniques are much more effective and are more like real pack behavior. There are plenty of effective, positive trainers who can help you and your dogs. And perhaps even the people at the Dogue Spot will learn something from this experience.

    Let’s extend the current anti-bullying campaigns to our dogs!

    Having said all that, I live with and have trained a number of dogs, including an Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) who has titles in agility, obedience, Rally obedience, cattle herding, sheep herding, and versatility. ACDs were bred to herd cattle and don’t back down easily from confrontation. A dog who has the guts to move a herd of cattle w/o backing down is not going to back down from your punching and ear pulling. He is more likely to defend himself from you and you are going to get hurt (a consequence of your action). However, establishing leadership with these dogs like a real pack leader would and using NILIF techniques is much more effective. A dog is going to behave better off leash and work well with the handler from a distance. He won’t hesitate to come when called or follow other directions.

    C’mon, people wake up!

    Jenny Pavlovic, author of the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book and 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog

  9. November 20, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    Let me correct what I wrote about the Dogue Spot pulling a dog’s ears when it didn’t come. Apparently she was pulling the dog’s ears to make it lie down, and actually pulling hard enough on the ears to pull the dog down. Again, there are 1,001 better ways to teach a dog to lie down w/o pulling on its ears. And the way Tiffany talked about giving a dog a consequence if it didn’t come to her sounded like she was punishing the dog when she caught up to it, which could be really confusing to the dog (messed up psychology) and could perpetuate the problem. It’s better to continue to train the dog to come while on a lead, not let the dog make the wrong choice, and always be positive when the dog comes to you.
    The training methods used by the people at the Dogue Spot *while on camera*, *while being interviewed* are disturbing enough to damage their reputation (and rightfully so). Let’s start an anti-bullying campaign for dogs!

  10. November 20, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    This is basically a part-time puppy mill. I’ve seen some great investigative segments in broadcast media on this. Pisses me off.

  11. November 21, 2010 at 12:20 AM

    Jan, what do you mean by “this is basically a part-time puppy mill”?

    • November 21, 2010 at 12:27 AM

      I mean the conditions are similar to puppy mills, except the dogs go home at night.

      • Mel
        November 21, 2010 at 1:40 AM

        I’m not sure I agree with you on the puppy mill aspect (given that I have a breeding dog from one and know the type of environment these dogs come from), but the allegations are certainly disturbing enough to understand your feelings on the matter. I found this comment by Mary D. on the Insider Pages and found it deeply disturbing. “I took my dog to Dogue Spot three times for daycare. Once I brought her, and twice I had her picked up by their staff. At the same time I also enrolled in their Canine Good Citizen class. However, I only made it through one session. During the class, I witnessed an unacceptable training method. Dogs were disciplined by ear pulling, dominance, and the incorrect use of pinch collars. For instance, one dog didnt immediately come when called so was pulled up onto his hind feet by the pinch collar, and then dragged this way across the entire training room floor.

        However, what I found most appalling was hearing the staff talk derogatorily and brag about how they had earlier disciplined a daycare dog who was barking by placing it in a crate, covering the crate with a blanket, and then kicking the crate. Im not sure they knew I could hear them, but they were gloating over how terrified the dog was. I asked myself what had been accomplished by this other than creating even more issues in the dogs temperament.

        I was so bothered by the abuse I’d witnessed, I cried for the poor animals on the way home, and then never went back. I forfeited the few hundred dollars that I’d spend on the class and daycare packages. Yet, it was definitely worth my peace of mind knowing that my dog was not in the care of these trainers. Yesterday, I saw this video. I obviously made the right choice, and hope that others will do the same.

        http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/investigators-too-rough-nov-17-2010
        Here is the link: http://bit.ly/dcYt8d

      • November 21, 2010 at 1:43 AM

        Yeah, I miswrote that. I didn’t mean they were *similar* but rather the same idea – warehousing dogs and mistreating them for profit.

        I wrote a story about a huge puppy mill bust near my home, so I also am aware of those conditions. The ringleader is STILL not charged, although a few of her lackeys have pleaded guilty to felony animal abuse. I fear their guru has covered her tracks sufficiently so that she will never be prosecuted.

      • Mel
        November 21, 2010 at 1:49 AM

        Thanks Jan. I kind of figured that’s what you meant. You obviously know about puppy mills (ugh!). I find it sad and frustrating that this woman (the puppy mill owner) you mention is still able to live her life as if she did nothing wrong. It’s what makes me want to fight puppy mills every day of my life. Seeing what my lab Daisy was like when I got her and how far she has come, with a lot of love and training and trust-building, makes it all worth it to me.

  12. Eileen
    November 21, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    I have considered doggie daycare, as I won a credit at an animal event, mainly because I live in rural AZ, and while we are in the Twin CIties, I though this might be a good way to let my dog become more social with other animals. Supervised activity seemed to be a much better idea than dog parks, where I won’t take my dog, because of irresponsible behavior on the part of so many dog owners. One of my criteria would be to be able to stay and observe whenever I wanted to, mainly to make sure that my dog responded as well to the daycare supervisors’ verbal commands as she does to mine. I would not want other people to “train” my dog. THe only person that can train a dog is the dog’s owner. I have gone through group obedience training and private sessions with my dog, and in my opinion, *I* was trained. THe dog went through the motions along with me, to support me in being able to learn to lead her to desired behaviors. I think if people have real behavioral issues with their dog, they are doing their dog no service by taking to ANY place for training, unless they share with the dog. SOmeone made an analogy about problem kids behaving for the nanny, but not the parents. All things considered, Dogue Spot won’t be on my consideration list.

    • November 21, 2010 at 2:04 AM

      I know of several doggy daycares that are absolutely fantastic. Ask for friends’ references, look for reviews, and make sure they allow you to go in the back room to inspect every nook and cranny if you’re considering one.

      • Mel
        November 21, 2010 at 2:13 AM

        I do too. One of my old co-workers runs a great one in Minneapolis. I have been there and seen first hand how they work with the dogs. Kind, gentle and always watching and playing with them. In fact, when I was there I watched as they gently helped a dog into it’s wheelchair so it could come out and play too. That’s why I recommend people do their research. Thanks for joining the conversation today. 🙂

  13. November 21, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    Mel :It’s what makes me want to fight puppy mills every day of my life. Seeing what my lab Daisy was like when I got her and how far she has come, with a lot of love and training and trust-building, makes it all worth it to me.

    Bless you for taking in a puppy mill dog. They can be grotesquely damaged, both physically and pscyhologically. It’s so maddening. As to Renee Roske, who has been publicly named but not charged, I hear the IRS is looking at her, and that may be her ultimate nightmare.

    • Mel
      November 21, 2010 at 2:10 AM

      Thanks Jan. I think Daisy chose me, but I am grateful she did. It will be 3 years this week that she has been with me and this past year has been simply amazing. She seeks my affection, initiates play with dogs she likes and she likes to cuddle. It has taken a lot of work and patience, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Glad to hear the IRS is looking into her. If that’s what it takes to stop her from ever doing it again then I am all for it. I have no feelings of compassion for people who own puppy mills.

    • November 21, 2010 at 3:24 AM

      That is exquisite. I feel like I know Daisy now. The photographs of her early days with you are so telling. You’re right: They embody that “empty” feeling. How fabulous that she has come so far. After my piece came out I had an occasion to visit with some fosters and adoptees, and they were well loved. Still, I can’t help but harbor unbending anger at people who think it’s acceptable to subject living creatures to puppy-mill conditions, and to elected officials who side with the business community, enabling them to abuse and neglect animals.

      • Mel
        November 21, 2010 at 3:41 AM

        Thanks Jan. She has made amazing progress. I am in awe of her resilience and strength. (Thanks for the comment on Aspen, she was a very special girl too.)

        I do harbor anger at places like these and the people who support them (including the legislators who believe the money it brings to their districts is more important than the pain it causes). That’s why I work to educate people on the dangers of buying a dog from a pet store and to continue to fight for the dogs who are left behind. I truly believe the tide is turning. Yes, it is a slow tide, but it is a tide nonetheless and I continue to hope that one day all our states will have laws that outlaw puppy mills and their ilk.

  14. November 21, 2010 at 2:05 AM

    Dogssaved :
    Aren’t you even curious why clients have supported her?

    Not really. I’ve seen enough dog “owners” who are also irresponsible and oblivious to the way animals are treated.

  15. November 21, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    I know of a *great* dog daycare in this area and they don’t treat the dogs at all like they do at the Dogue Spot. The husband runs the daycare and the wife runs the obedience training school. The ratio of people to dogs is much higher than what I saw at the Dogue Spot on the video. My main question for Rachel and Tiffany is “Why do you use physical and confrontational techniques (ear yanking, bopping on the nose, yanking on pinch collars) routinely when they are not necessary?” Is it because you don’t know any other way? It is quite easy to have well-behaved dogs without using those techniques. If you were in school and the teacher popped you one every time you made a mistake, or almost made a mistake, would you find it easy to learn? You can learn to train dogs more humanely and more effectively if you’re interested. You don’t need to resort to the techniques you demonstrated in the video. They could backfire dangerously on your clients who try to use them at home. I would love to see your response to my comments in the posts above as well.
    Clients–beware and protect your dogs. Just because a dog appears happy to arrive at the daycare doesn’t mean everything it ok. The dog may be excited because it’s the only time the dog gets enough exercise, or it’s the only time the dog gets to play with other dogs. It may be because the daycare is less boring than being at home. But I would watch how the dog interacts and responds to each person who works at the daycare, to see whether the dog likes going to the place in general, but has an adverse reaction when a particular person approaches the dog. That would be a red flag for me.

  16. November 24, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    I’m disappointed that Tiffany and Rachel have not addressed valid concerns about their behavior. It’s interesting how Tiffany is playing the victim role and how Rachel keeps blaming the report on disgruntled former employees and doesn’t take responsibility for what she did and said on camera. Why are Rachel and Tiffany unfriending people who express concerns to them? They have tried to blame the whole report on disgruntled former employees and haven’t addressed any of the concerns that were expressed about their behavior shown on camera (improper and confusing use of a pinch collar, pulling a dog by its ears, bopping a dog on the nose when not necessary, etc.). I posted my concerns on Rachel’s wall and was abruptly “unfriended”. If they were confident in what they were doing, they would be able to address our concerns and wouldn’t have to hide. I hope they’re learning that they are not behaving like pack leaders and that you can effectively train dogs without resorting so quickly to physical methods that may make it much more difficult for a dog to learn and may cause a dog to defend himself. People need to reconsider leaving dogs in their care. If those methods are ok to show on camera, who knows what would happen when the camera isn’t there. The lack of a mature response is very disappointing.

    • Erin Wagner
      November 25, 2010 at 1:07 AM

      Jenny,
      We, as clients of Dogue Spot, have ALWAYS had our concerns heard and addressed. They have also invited anyone with any questions or doubts to stop in and visit. Unfortunately, Tiffany has become a victim in this whole ordeal. Allegations were made by former employees of a competitor that is no longer in business. In my opinion, jealousy plays a huge role in this whole incident. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the best methods for training their dogs. Please don’t judge us for the training methods we have chosen. They work and our dogs are the proof. Come in and see for yourself. Ask questions. Don’t believe everything you see on TV or read in a blog. Have the courage to do your own investigating. If Dogue Spot isn’t for you that’s fine. That’s what life is all about….making choices.

  17. November 24, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    Facebook is is a social media network for “friends”. Friends come to you directly to talk about things that concern them and wouldn’t believe a media story; they’d go to the source and talk about it. I’m not sure who you are Jenny but I would question why you’d be someone’s friend if you are not supportive of their methods or feel comfortable enough to speak with them on a friendly basis about something like this. I’m happy to talk with anyone about this and address things that are in question. Doing so via a blog, chat group or Facebook with people that don’t even know me isn’t the route I choose. At that time people could see for themselves how our dogs respond to us and our client’s dogs as well. As I’ve always said the door is open.

  18. November 25, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    I am concerned about the methods Tiffany and Rachel voluntarily demonstrated ON CAMERA. A pinch collar was designed to allow the dog to make the right decisions. It was never intended to be yanked on by the trainer as was shown repeatedly at the Dogue Spot. Yanking on a pinch (prong) collar and then rewarding the dog is confusing and doesn’t make sense to the dog. It could eventually backfire on clients who try it at home. Likewise, you don’t need to pull a dog by the ears to train it to lie down (in fact I’ve never seen anyone resort to doing that before), or to train it to come. You don’t need to bop a dog on the nose to train it anything. Why would you choose those methods when they aren’t needed? Why would you not take responsibility for things you did and advocated on camera? When people disagree with me on my Facebook wall, I don’t automatically unfriend then. Often I learn from them. The best possible outcome of this story would be that Tiffany and Rachel learn to effectively train dogs without so quickly resorting to physical methods, or at least their clients learn that there are other more effective ways to train and work with dogs. C’mon guys, quit acting like victims and take responsibility for your part in this. The only way to reach a wider audience is to use the media, as you voluntarily did when you demonstrated those training methods on camera.

  19. Dogssaved
    November 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Jenny – You couldn’t be more off base. Tiffany and Rachel have been an open book in welcoming client comments and concerns around this report. They have conducted several client meetings before and after the report aired. Tiffany has shared with her clients during the meetings and on her blogs that this is an opportunity to grow and change. She has openly invited concerns and suggestions and has acted on many already. Having attended almost all the meetings, they have not spent one minute maligning their accusers. The only comment Tiffany made about these 3 individuals is that their shift reports contained no documentation about their concerns about the dogs’ treatment. Apparently, they did not contact an animal safety agency either that would be required by MN law to investigate and question the Dogue Spot. No investigator has interviewed or opened an investigation of Dogue Spot. Personally, I do wonder why the accusers did not exhaust all other avenues before going to a reporter. I would be more direct, going first to my employer and expressing my concern, then to authorities and only if that proved unsuccessful would I entertain going to the media. To me, it is an odd step to take first.

    If I were going to make a judgment about you and the others on this site, I would assume by your dialogue that you are narrow minded and lack even a modest level of fairness in understanding two sides of a situation. However, I doubt that is a correct assessment of you. I expect you are fair minded and willing to see things from a different perspective. As a client who has seen incredible changes in my dogs, I’ve been told that I am “pathetic” and “an idiot” in these blogs, or as you’ve called me, a lazy dog owner. I know that those who are so offended by what they think may be happening are doing so because of their concern for dogs. I don’t think you or anyone else here are idiots, though I have not been not given the same courtesy. I asked on this site if anyone is even curious why her clients are loyal and the answer was not really because I am simply an irresponsible dog owner that is oblivious to the way animals are treated. Anyone who knows me would laugh at the suggestion that I am irresponsible in any way. What you and the other bloggers here don’t know about the Dogue Spot and their training approach could fill a stadium. But I am most struck by the unkindness on this blog towards humans that have agonized about their dogs’ behavior and have shed many tears over what to do. If I truly didn’t care about my dogs, I simply would have taken the easy route and put them down. In my constant search to find help, I asked a positive only training program to help me with my dogs just within the last year. Based on their age and history, they declined and I was told they could not be helped and to consider putting them down. I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. Instead, I spend several hours each week on walking my dogs separately so they have 100% of my attention as Tiffany recommends, class time, taking them to daycare and working with them in training sessions at home. I do this and maintain a demanding job, support a busy young son at home and squeeze in time with my husband. But I am irresponsible, lazy and don’t care about how animals are treated. For people who are so caring about dogs, it shocks me at your insensitivity towards the feelings of humans and the incredible judgments that have been thrown at us.

    You and other bloggers are quick to assume that the Dogue Spot trains on immediate and harsh correction. Nothing could be further from the truth but based upon the report, it is easy to see how you could make that assumption. The reporter gave it no more than a passing “to be sure, there are a lot of treats and praises”. The reality is we are encouraged to give TONS of praises and cookies for all good behaviors, and withhold praises/cookies when the behavior isn’t what we want. Really, I hardly recognized the description of the place that I have been in almost every day for the past four months. My son and I find a happy, positive place for our dogs at Dogue Spot.

    Another assumption is that we pull dogs ears to get them to go down. We are trained to lure dogs into a down and wait them out. In fact, we’re told to give the command then stand there for 5 minutes or more if necessary staring at the floor. Seriously, stare at the floor, no correction, just….wait. (By the way, I only made it to about 4 minutes and had to just start over. But I’ve seen Rachel do this at Dogue Spot and sure enough, the dog will eventually go down.) And when they go down we give them lots of praises and cookies for staying in a down position, slowly extending the time in down/stay. Correction may occur when they get up before release, but only once we are certain they fully understand what is asked of them so it is hardly the first, second or even third step that is used. I’ve been through two and a half full programs and several specialty classes and not once have I been trained to pull my dogs ears. Not once. There is a Life Issues program that refers to this technique but it is hardly offered to the average client. As for pinch collars, Tiffany puts them on all clients wanting to use a pinchie so they can see for themselves how it feels when it’s pulled. Further, she trains very clearly on how they are used and provides a specialty class just on the topic of using the pinch collar correctly. You are assuming that the dog owner that wasn’t using the pinchie properly was not redirected or given the appropriate information in the first place. Based on my own experience, I receive constructive feedback regularly to ensure I use this tool in the best possible way. We are encouraged to move to no pinchie and even to off-leash eventually.

    My two dogs were fearful, scared and aggressive to people and dogs. They have charged and bit a child, breaking his skin. When we started at Dogue Spot, they shook, barked aggressively and literally defecated in fear of people they didn’t know and other dogs. Their aggression has all but disappeared and they are growing in confidence and friendliness to dogs and people….. and literally dancing for treats from staff. Does it make sense that would have happened if the training was hurtful? Really, does that make sense that they would become…..LESS fearful? It is insulting, Jenny, to suggest that we have just been poor dog owners with no control over our dogs so when we see any change, it is better than nothing. Time and again, clients have stated on these blogs that they have tried numerous other programs without results. I’ve hired a personal trainer, done the clicker training, been to other training programs, read countless books and watched numerous videos in an effort to educate myself on something that would help my dogs. I have spent uncountable hours in training my dogs, in and out of classes and programs. I am hardly stupid, I am well educated, hard working and hold an executive level position. I’ve tried for 5 years and found nothing that helped my dogs until I came to Dogue Spot. Try, TRY to open your mind even slightly to the possibility that you do not have the full picture.

    If Tiffany or Rachel’s blogs have expressed their anger and frustration, I expect you would have done the same if you felt you were being unfairly represented. If Rachel or Tiffany have expressed their frustrations about the unfairness of this attack to their friends expecting at least understanding, I don’t think that is unreasonable. I would expect a friend to ask “Tell me about what happened” as opposed to immediately calling out what you think they did wrong. I question if you really know either of them at all if you describe them as playing victims. In the short period of time I have known them, victim is one of the last words I would use to describe either of them. Indignant about the report yes, but victims, no.

    For all those bloggers out there that have tried and convicted the staff and owner of Dogue Spot and all their clients, I would ask that you at least consider doing what Tiffany has invited you to do so many times….call her. Talk with her directly about what you saw, ask her questions, express your concerns but at least allow her the opportunity to give you the information that the report did not include. Go to her center and watch the training and the dogs. She can show you the training documents they give to their clients on how to train which is highly focused on positive training and building a relationship with your dog through FUN. You will see a significant difference in their training methods than what has been portrayed. Despite the numerous open invitations to come in any time, not one person has had the fairness to take her up on that offer. If you called Tiffany, heard more about the situation from her and then still felt the same way, I would respect that. We’d have a difference of opinion but I would respect your fairness. If you truly counted Rachel as a friend, you would have done this already.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2010 at 6:28 PM

      I want to make clear here that this is my blog and I do not believe that demonizing Tiffany or her crew is helpful here. I personally disagree with her training methods, but that is me. I like to base my decisions (where my dogs are concerned) on scientific evidence and not anecdotal stories about how dogs were helped by aversive training methods. Why? Because we are only catching someone’s experience in this point in time and not able to see if any negative consequences occur down the road. You can read about plenty of personal experiences shared by trainers who had to deal with dogs who were now aggressive after their owners used aversive techniques on their dogs on Dr. Yin’s blog.

      I also don’t believe that Tiffany and her trainers were using aversive techniques only. I think they likely used a combination of both aversive and positive training methods, at least that’s what I caught from the video. Problems can occur when one uses both (as seen in the video) in a way that is confusing for a dog, however, I was not (and am not) there for every training session so I cannot know what actually occurs, just what others have shared here and on Fox 9’s comment section.

      I am glad to hear that she is addressing some issues raised in the report with both her clients and her staff. Funny but it wasn’t actually what I saw in the video that disturbed me most. It was a comment made on Merchant’s Circle. It was made by someone who had attended a training session and overheard staff talking about how they had been annoyed with a barking dog, stuck it in a kennel, covered it with a blanket and started kicking the kennel to scare the dog. I am sure you will dismiss this person’s comments as being a “former employee” or “disgruntled” or “some naysayer”, but if true (and I believe it likely is true) then this is about more than training techniques. It is about a general pervasive attitude amongst the employees that the way to deal with frustration is to take it out on the dogs or dog who may be the source of that frustration. I am not saying that this is permission to act in such a way by the employer or higher-level staff, but it does seem like something Tiffany may want to address. And as you said, she is starting to deal with any known issues she has seen. That is wonderful. The truth is everyone has their faults and foibles. I think nothing is in black and white nor do I think Tiffany is evil. I question tactics used by her trainer, but I don not think Tiffany is all bad or all good. I think we all have our faults and to cast the first stone without acknowledging that would be unfair.

  20. November 25, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Dogssaved: This isn’t my blog. I haven’t called anyone evil or lazy. You can read my comments all the way back to the beginning and see that many of my comments and concerns have not been addressed. I realize that Tiffany can choose to address them or not. Staff of the Dogue Spot used a pinch collar incorrectly, pulled a dog by the ears, and bopped a dog on the nose ON CAMERA when they knew they were being filmed for a news story. Now they are not willing to address valid concerns for what people saw them do while they knew they were being filmed for mass media. That’s inconsistent and disappointing. Is that really ok with you?

    I realize that there are two sides to every story and that many dogs whose owners claimed they were “completely out of control” have been helped by the Dogue Spot. That indicates to me that the owners didn’t know much (if anything) about dogs, probably waited too long to get help, and sought help at the Dogue Spot. Plenty of well-educated people know nothing or next to nothing about dogs and the dogs suffer for that.

    We are probably going to have to agree to disagree on this. But it’s important for people to know that reputable dogsitters, trainers, and dog daycare operators were appalled by the way they saw the Dogue Spot trainers using the pinch collar, pulling the dog’s ears, etc ON CAMERA when they knew they were being filmed for a NEWS STORY (we had a discussion on my Facebook wall). These concerns have not been addressed in a similar forum. Also, at least one former Dogue Spot client came forward with her story of forefeiting a substantial amount of money to get her dog out of the Dogue Spot and keep the dog safe. Do you know what goes on there with your dog while you are not around? On camera it appeared as though they had more dogs in a small space than they could control, and this can lead to fights and serious problems.

    I can understand that a business would want to do damage control so as not to lose their clients. However, I also think those clients need to know that there are other more effective ways to train dogs than what was demonstrated on camera and that some of the methods demonstrated could lead to aggression problems in the future.

    Any well-educated person can easily find information about me on the internet if they’re interested because I use my real name.

  21. Dogssaved
    November 26, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    To Mel – I appreciate the clarification of the blog. I did mistake you for the owner. My apologies. I do appreciate your thoughtful comments about not demonizing Tiffany or her staff. Disagreeing with training is very different than the allegations that have been made.
    Jenny – I do commend you for your willingness to focus solely on the video rather than the unsubstantiated accusations. It is a step beyond that which has been done by others. It does remind me of the story of the man that gets on the subway late at night with his two young children. The children start behaving very badly, running around the subway car, screaming and disturbing other passengers all while the father seemed oblivious. Finally, a woman approaches the man and says, “Sir, what kind of a parent are you? Your children are creating a disturbance and you haven’t made any attempt to stop them. And what are they doing up at this hour? You need to get control of them before they hurt themselves or others.” The man looked up and said, “I’m so sorry. We were at the hospital saying our last good byes to my wife who just passed away. I’m afraid I’m still stunned. They are too young to know they will never see their mother again.” If the behavior had been filmed, you’d have assumed he was a terrible father, dragging young children out late at night and not caring if his children misbehaved or even were in danger. But when we ask the background, we have a completely different picture. Clearly, people think there is nothing that could explain what was on video, but believe it or not, there really are important facts you don’t know. The truth is that I know more about this situation than do you. That is not an opinion, it is simply a fact. You saw an 8 minute video. I saw an 8 minute video and I’ve experienced the training for myself. I am not suggesting I know more about training dogs, because I clearly do not, but I do know more about this situation. Until you take the challenge of talking directly with one of them, you will remain uneducated about the circumstances and are doing nothing more than what you are accusing me of….failing to educate yourself on alternative ways of thinking.

    I won’t go back through these blogs again to determine if you were the one calling Tiffany’s clients lazy. Assuming you were not, my apologies. However, I need to correct your assumptions about my efforts and experience. I had a dog as a child without behavior issues. I actually have another dog in my home that is trained, friendly and well behaved. My husband has owned numerous dogs and been around dogs and other animals on a farm most of his early life. I began with training with these dogs when they were young puppies, so I started very early. I continued various classes, trainers and programs many, many times over 5 years. The primary reason for our dogs behavior is that when they were pups, we were transferred from another state to Minnesota and in the process their socialization got shorted. Your assumptions about Tiffany’s clients are insulting to us but more importantly that you are so arrogant to believe Tiffany has just been lucky to get clients that don’t know anything. I’ve learned very much about dog training, but I have found that each trainer has a very different approach. If I’ve been ineffective, one contributing factor may very well have been because none of you agree with one another. And yes, likely I’ve been confused by the various approaches to dealing with aggressive dogs. Sadly, this blog has demonstrated that dog trainers seem very willing to eat their own because you all seem to be so supremely certain you know the right way. As a dog owner, I’m looking for outcomes for my dogs to keep them safe and those around them safe. Whether you disagree how I got there, Tiffany and her program was the first to provide that for me.

    As for your comment about your willingness to put your name on this blog, you may be interested to know why I did not put mine on this blog. The day after the report aired, Tiffany had the police at the facility due to a threat left on her voice message. The blog on Fox 9 contained threats such as burning down the building. Before they had the sense to take the blogs off their website, one person referred to Tiffany’s young daughter and the use of a pinch collar. In fact, Fox 9 in their great wisdom, showed the face of Tiffany’s daughter on camera and allowed that video to continue to play on their website. Her husband called the station the night of the report and left messages for the General Manager and VanPilsum that they need to blur out her face. There was no response for an entire day until the next evening when the Fox News cameraman showed up at Tiffany’s client meeting and he called in the request. Interestingly, I saw no one admonish those individuals for this behavior. I am not familiar with this blog or the people who are involved. So excuse me if I erred on the side of caution before putting my name here. I don’t see your act of putting your name on the blog as particularly courageous. You clearly have more reason to publicize your name and shill your book.

    I am very much okay with how Tiffany has responded to what was on video. She has outlined very specific steps she is taking to address the real concerns of her clients. She does not owe YOU anything, she owes responsibility and accountability to her clients and she has absolutely done so. You took to a Facebook page to go after Rachel and when that avenue was closed to you, you go back to this location to further berate them both. You mentioned that Rachel was a friend. You may want to take responsibility for your approach. It wouldn’t be okay with me, as a friend, if you used this method to express your concerns to me.
    You are most welcome to the last word here, as I’m very certain you will take. As for me, I will sign off.

    • Mel
      November 30, 2010 at 6:45 AM

      I’m going to leave one last response to all the comments on this blog post.

      First, this post was about the importance of doing your research before trusting a trainer, doggy daycare, boarding facility or pet sitter with your pet. While I did use the Fox 9 video to make a point, the purpose was to get people thinking about why it can be so important to know what works/does not work with their pet and what they feel comfortable with in terms of training and care. Many people commented on Fox 9 and other sites about how they were really uncomfortable with the way The Dogue Spot used a prong collar in their training sessions. This is why I encourage people to do their research before choosing a trainer or dog care facility. If they had done their research ahead of time it is likely they would not have chosen The Dogue Spot. Even Tiffany said as much on the video.

      Second, I am equally appalled that someone would choose to threaten Tiffany, her family, or her child. It is disgusting and wrong. I believe that the internet has become an easy way for people to anonymously make comments they would not otherwise make if they had to stand behind it. We have become a society that thrives on criticism and hatred and outright meanness. We don’t take time to listen anymore. Regarding your story about the father and children, I found it to be accurate. We don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes. I recently read a powerful post by Dr Jessica at Pawcurious Blog about just that very thing. It has really reformed my thoughts on how we judge one another in this society way too quickly.

      Third, I believe that Jenny has made some very good points regarding what WAS seen on the video. I know that the common response has been to blame the “former employees” or portray Fox 9 as somehow having it our for Tiffany and her business. Personally, I think this is just deflection, not real answers to some very serious questions based on what WAS seen on the video. Obviously, Tiffany does not have to answer to what was seen on the video (punching a dog in the nose, incorrect use of a prong collar, etc.), at least not to me or Jenny (nor do I expect her to do so), but I am guessing that she does need to answer to her clients. If that is what she has been doing. Great. I think they deserve an explanation.

      We can continue to argue over training techniques and styles, but the truth is I will never believe that pain is necessary when it comes to training or caring for a dog. Period. The end.

  22. November 27, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    I’m not trying to doubt or contradict your experience with the Dogue Spot. I’m also not trying to sell anything. And I never said Rachel was a friend. What I’ve been trying to do is get an explanation for the behaviors the Dogue Spot staff showed on camera while they knew they were being filmed. I’m not talking about rumors or hearsay. I’m taking about actions taken toward dogs by the Dog Spot staff while they were being interviewed. Incorrect and possibly dangerous use of a pinch collar was shown (pinch collars were designed to be self-correcting for the dog, not to be yanked on by the handler), yanking a dog by the ears, and so on. Those behaviors toward dogs appeared to be unnecessary and were enough for many of us to decide that the staff doesn’t know the best way to train dogs and that we would never take our dogs to the Dogue Spot. If Tiffany had chosen to more widely address these concerns about the actions taken by her staff toward dogs while they knew they were being filmed, she might have regained some credibility. As things stand, it appears as though she does not have a good explanation for those actions and may even support them. I was trying to tell her that. But she has chosen to focus on her existing customers and not use mass media to address these concerns.

  23. Katie
    November 28, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    All you guys are yahoos. Using physical aggression toward an animal only shows that it is ok for them to have the same aggression in return. These are supposed to be house pets, they are not in the wild anymore. They are like children and should be treated as such. Discipline as necessary and reward them when they have done things right. What happens when you use abusive or aggressive force towards children? They begin to have the same behavior. I believe every minute of the news story and the video. I am the type of person that has to see it to believe it and I saw what they were doing and how they treated the dogs. NOT RIGHT. Those dogs are really like some people’s children and if someone was treating my child like that, the news story would have been on me, not the daycare. I will definitely ensure that everyone I know with a dog that is thinking about doggy daycare looks into them carefully.

  24. November 30, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Press Release
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  25. Jenny
    February 3, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    I work at Augusta Dog Training & Doggy Daycare…and I can assure you that is not how we operate. Our dogs have fun, play when they want, sleep when they are tired, they are not crated, or yelled at and absolutely never abused (and yes twisting penises I would say counts as abuse in my peresonal opinion). I treat every dog here as if they were my own, and when I’m not working I miss them. These are my dogs and I love each of them very much.

    • Mel
      February 4, 2011 at 8:14 AM

      Thanks for commenting Jenny. It’s really nice to meet someone who runs a doggy daycare and who loves the dogs she works with (I know there are many more out there) as much as you do. I don’t want anyone to think that all doggy daycares are like the one featured in the news story, but I do believe all pet parents should check out the people who care for their pets (including me!). Your clients are obviously lucky to have you!

  26. February 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I would NEVER take my dog to this if you can call it place of business. I would call it a place of torture.

  27. Michael
    February 23, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    I have read the study. I love how you left out some important parts. Or perhaps you have selective memory, giving stats that suit you. Yelling “NO” at you dog creates an aggresive response 15% of the time, you posted that, as in the study. So why is it you didn’t mention that a prong collar creates an aggresive response 11% of the time, and a remote collar (shock collar) 7% of the time. A leash corrections creates an aggressive response 6% of the time. SO the data shows that yelling no, or spraying your dog with a water bottle creates more of an aggressive response than a prong collar. Ninety percent of dog aggression is fear based, so lets assume that an aggressive response is very likely fear based. So the data shows yelling at a dog, or spraying it with a water bottle causes more fear then a leash correction, prong collar or e-collar. Not that I am an advocate of e-collars, but I have used prong collars succesfully, without producing fallout. You can be sure my dog is not fearful in any way. The problem I do have with prong collars, is that they are often used incorrectly, wich yes, does produce fallout, and majority of the time aren’t fitted right. They should be used in conjunction with training, not as a crutch. If you need to use it for the dogs whole life, everyday, every walk, you aren’t using it right. Any training style should have a strong base of positive reinforcement operant conditioning, however, that does not mean that a properly applied aversive is cruel in any way. The cruelty of these devices stems from the person on the other end of the leash, not with the tool its self.

    Here is the study: http://vet.osu.edu/assets/pdf/hospital/behavior/trainingArticle.pdf

    Additionally, here is a well done interview with Dr. Debbie Calnon, read the whole interview, she explains how positive punishement in the right hands can be useful, and humane:

    http://dewittprongcollarstory.blogspot.com/ (Im sure she has a much better understanding of behavioural science then you)

    Very few dogs can perform at a high level of obedience without ANY aversives, if any. People need to be educated about aversives instead of having been taught to demonise them without proper understanding. It might even be fair (or very likely) that the aggresive responses from training tools, were because the tools were used incorrectly. Over correcting, and poor timing is what triggers these responses. So yes, I would rather train responsibly with aversives and R+, and know that when my dogs in a dangerous situation, and my recall needs to be effective, he will return when called. When the action he is performing is more self rewarding then a yummy piece of hotdog, it could cost the dog his life, simply because the owners were not responsible enough to give adequate training. Just my take on it, im not typing this offend anyone, so please dont be hurt by my opinion.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      I’m not sure that my point was about the overall study considering I was speaking about taking the time to research in choosing a doggie day care and/or pet sitter. I chose to focus on the higher stats for a reason – they result in higher incidences of aggression. The point to my piece was not really the study, but about knowing in who’s care you leave your pet.

      Personally, I do not believe aversives are necessary or useful in working with a dog. Recall can be achieved without a choke chain or prong collar. It can be achieved with dedicated time and consistency. As another commenter stated earlier today, “Do you see dogs as companions, or as subservient beasts…?” I prefer companion. I realize we differ on our opinions, but I am simple stating mine.

  28. Michael
    February 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Perhaps I misinterpreted your points, and if so, I apoligize. I respect your opinion, and that you did not attack me for mine; and yes I agree, teaching recall with a correction collar is like trying to row upstream. I just wanted to point out I felt it was unfair to call a prong collar cruel, when in fact the difference in them being cruel, or used humanely, falls upon the person using it; not with the tool itself. My dog is my best friend, and a very happy dog, because when I use aversives I understand timing, appropriate force, and consistency. It is my personal opinion that collars like the prong collar should be regulated to minimize there misuse, and an owner should have to show a great understanding and skill before being legally allowed to use one. To many times I cringe when walking my dog, as another owner walks by cranking there dogs prong collar for trying to pull towards mine. Thank you for keeping your response on an intellectual level-all the best.

    Mike

  29. September 27, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    Research is important with any form of care you will be utilizing for your loved ones. Its terrible to realize that people are capable of such abuse on animals, and even other people. I take my dog to Barney’s Ranch, info here http://barneysranch.com/, and I find my dog is very happy when I drop her off and pick her up. They have web cams set up in four areas of the facility so that you can check in from their website.

    Thank you so much for the research you have provided. It really shows that you care for your animal as do the other people who have commented here.

  30. December 2, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    This behavior is disgusting. I hope the people guilty of these atrocities are being prosecuted for animal cruelty.

    • Mel
      December 3, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      This was quite some time ago now and the business has since closed.

  31. Con
    September 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Mel, she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and has reopened under another name….

    • Mel
      September 27, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      Hopefully her tactics have changed.

  32. Pam Beckman
    October 6, 2017 at 6:10 PM

    My dog has been attacked twice at the daycare/boarders that I take him to. They called me the first time because another dog atracked him. This second time, I was boarding him for the weekend. He was attacked right after I dropped him off and no one called me. He had multiple cuts and scratches when I picked him up 3 days later. I have made multiple phone calls to get answers and no one has called me back. I want to file complaint against the business. How do I go about doing this? I live in Illinois. Thank you!

  1. November 18, 2010 at 10:54 AM
  2. January 10, 2011 at 10:14 AM
  3. June 9, 2012 at 11:37 AM

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