Dog owners ‘ripped off’ by growing scam as scammers ‘cash in’ on locked pets | Nature | News

COVID-19 lockdowns sparked a puppy boom as thousands of Britons bought pooches to keep them company during the long months of isolation. A total of 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, with dogs being by far the most popular companion.

Dog ownership figures have skyrocketed during the pandemic, with 33% of households owning dogs in 2020 to 2021, up from around 22% in the previous ten years.

But a dog trainer has warned owners are being ‘ripped off’ by fraudsters posing as dog trainers who are capitalizing on the record number of pets.

Steve Moran has worked with dogs for over 30 years and currently runs Stublach Training and Boarding Kennels in Byley, Cheshire.

He said Cheshire Live that he believes customers are being taken for a ride by trainers taking advantage of the pet ownership lockdown boom, with some claiming to be accredited despite there being no official governing body in the UK United.

He said: “People are looking for a dog trainer and if you go online you will find more dog trainers than pebbles on a beach. Many say they are a ‘certified’ dog behaviorist.

“It doesn’t exist, but people will see this and think ‘they must know what they’re doing’.”

Mr Moran said trainers are using methods that do little to stem the rise in dog attacks, partly due to the increase in first-time dog owners.

There has been an increase in fatal dog attacks in Britain since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the RSPCA warning that ‘impulse buying’ during lockdowns may have increased the risks posed by certain breeds in certain environments.

Farmers have also complained of an increase in dogs attacking their animals, including sheep and lambs, as new owners struggle to control their pets.

He said trainers should not pursue a “one size fits all” approach, adding: “The way I train a German Shepherd may not be the way I train a Labrador.”

He said: “The way I train a Labrador might not be the same as the way I train a Chihuahua. But now they all do things like ‘tricks for treats’ – that’s not is not dog training.

“What it is is a license to print money. It’s a scam and this scam is getting bigger and bigger.”

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Mr Moran explained that certain dog breeds, such as German Shepherds and Border Collies, have a natural instinct to chase other animals.

Activities like throwing a ball activate the so-called prey drive and encourage the dog to chase, which is why some dogs get out of hand when chasing things like sheep or other dogs.

He said: “Anything that moves activates its prey and it has already been trained to hunt. That’s where the epidemic of dog trainers comes from – they’re not dog trainers, they’re not trained .

“What they are doing is cashing in on a post-lockdown cash cow.

“A lot of that is ‘no-strength training’. Basically, you can’t leash a dog or yell at a dog, but these people have no knowledge of working dogs.

“And if you threw a ball to get the dog’s attention – when you let that dog out into a field and there’s a flock of sheep, bingo, you’ve got two dead sheep.”

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He also said the “tricks for treats” method used by inexperienced trainers won’t work for all dogs.

“If you hold out a treat for the dog and he starts barking, people in training think ‘oh, they’re enjoying that’ when in fact the dog is frustrated and actually says ‘give me the treat. , I don’t want to sit down.’,” he continued.

“So what’s going on? The dog, especially something like a German Shepherd or a Border Collie, chews on the hand of the person feeding it to get to the treat because it doesn’t want to go around.

“They train with these techniques which aren’t good when you let them go. They have no call backs so the dog won’t come back when you call them unless you have a treat.”

He added: “It’s subjective – there are no ‘experts’ and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. It’s about being able to read the dog, but instead there are coaches who say this way is the right one.”

Mr Moran advised clients to ensure they research trainers carefully before employing them to ensure their dog does not develop bad or dangerous habits.

Additional reporting by Alex McIntyre.