For those of you who have never heard of Brad Pattison, I apologize because I am about to make your world a little uglier.
Let me start by saying I think Brad Pattison is an idiot. Let me qualify that; Brad Pattison is a dangerous and abusive idiot.
I don’t come to that conclusion lightly; it is based on an overwhelming amount of evidence provided by Mr. Pattison himself.
Pattison is a traditional jerk and crank trainer whose ignorance is only exceeded by his arrogance. He believes in forcing a dog to do what he wants; this may include running a dog into trees and lampposts, pinching ears, slapping it on the face, kneeing the chest or pinning it to the floor 20 times a day.
“I have all my clients perform this [pinning exercise] twice a day for a minimum of twenty repetitions; however you may need to do more.” – ~ Brad Pattison, Synergy (2009)
Even a pup is not excluded from his draconian approach.
What’s worse is that he actively lies about positive methods – claiming they make dogs aggressive – in order to prop up his approach. Think Cesar Millan but even more violent and with none of Millan’s people skills. He’s the opposite the stereotypical image of the nice, polite, stalwart Canadian; instead he comes across as a foul tempered, client berating fool.
Like Millan, Brad Pattison has no formal education in animal behavior. He has never achieved any obedience or sporting titles and he has never produced any working service dogs. In short, he is that special brand of “TV expert” whose expertise come from being on TV.
And Mr. Pattison is not content to mistreat animals for Canadian television; he is also using his middling fame to franchise his brand of animal abuse to gullible dog owners who also have no experience with dogs but are willing to pay over $6000 to be associated with him.
And the people he attracts aren’t exactly paragons of wisdom or vanguards of animal welfare; franchisee Cat Repetowski writes:
Over the first twenty years of my life my family had owned nine dogs. One was hit by a car, five were given away because of behavioral problems, two were euthanised because of more serious behavioral problems and one was killed by a neighbor.
That’s 5 discarded dogs. 4 killed. 1 Killed by neighbor. With that history, it is not the kind of person I want as a trainer.
I am currently slogging through Mr. Pattison
s new book on puppies and I plan to review it. So far, its been a slow going. I can only tolerate his ignorance in small dosages. But just so you don
t think that Im exaggerating regarding Pattison’s ignorance I present to you 2 quotes from this book and his views on “learned helplessness.”
This is a blurb on learned helplessness from a well respected scholarly book on behavior.
In the phenomenon called learned helplessness, an animal is first exposed to inescapable and severe aversive stimulation. Eventually the animal gives up and stops attempting to avoid or escape the situation. Next, an escape response, which under ordinary circumstances would be acquired easily, is made available, but the animal does not make the response. — Behavior Analysis and Learning 4th Ed – W. David Pierce (2008)
And this is what Mr. Pattison thinks about learned helplessness.
If you treat your pup like a human baby, you’ll disrespect and neglect her unique canine needs and also potentially saddle your pup with a condition called “learned helplessness.” And when you teach you pup to be helpless, all sorts of issues, come up, including insecurity, anxiety, depression and even aggression.[p.17]
If her bed is upstairs, she might not be able to make it on her own. In that case it’s okay to pick your pet up. Otherwise, never pick up your pup to take her anywhere. That will teach learned helplessness, which you want to avoid at all costs. [p.74]
Not only do his examples really miss the mark but the part on aggression shows that he absolutely has no idea what he is writing about. Aggression is the last thing you would expect with LH because it indicates that the animal is NOT helpless.
I don’t expect everyone to know about learned helplessness (LH), but I do expect it from someone trying to pass himself off as an expert. And at the very least I expect an author writing about LH to take the time to enter “learned helplessness” into a Google search. Now was that too hard?
There is one more possibility.
Pattison could be lying because the truth is inconvenient. As part of what he calls ‘alpha training’, Pattison recommends an exercise that is a classic study in inducing learned helplessness. He tells owners to forcibly lay their dogs down, pinning them to the floor up to 22 times a day or until they stop fighting. Or as Pierce describes above, until the “animal gives up and stops attempting to avoid or escape the situation.”
Learned Helplessness the Pattison way.
- Brad Pattison: Submissiveness is Really Dominance (dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com)
- Brad Pattison on learned helplessness
- Brad Pattison Puppy Book Review by columnist Yvette Van Veen
- Brad Pattison Laughs at a Panicking Dog (video)
- Pattison’s views on Mexican street dogs (Facebook screencap)
- Pattison Hanging Dog to Force a Sit and Slapping it (video)Jerking and Slapping Bulldog(video)