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Dr. Fetko's Philosophy
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Dogs are like wet cement - whatever touches them makes a lasting impression.
So please make every touch loving.
Submitted by : Granny Kind (Yvonne Presley, Flagler County, FL Humane Society)
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Training Methods
I Can Help
Legal Work
Watch The Dog
Outside Dog
Organizations Given Free Assistance

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My methods are practical, gentle and successful because working with animals is not academic or secondary to me, it's WHAT I DO! Like you, I hear and read strange things about animals, training and behavior. But having done it full time for many years, I know what works. Methods have effects no one talks about. I say: "Jerk is a noun, not a verb" and "Nothing with a pulse belongs on a chain" because I haven't jerked collars or used chains in decades - and I do this every day, sometimes with very unfriendly dogs! Have you ever been to Sea World? Who jerks Shamu? If we can train huge feral predators to a high level of safe performance without active physical reprimands, HOW DARE WE tell you to jerk your dog's neck?!

Ever notice that people with "bad memories" know all the words to dozens of songs? That’s because music and singing are FUN! A fun, playful, relaxed attitude is very conducive to learning. Why do we remember the alphabet forever but forget the times table immediately after the exam? Because we SANG, PLAYED and ACTED OUT the alphabet! It was FUN and GAMES! Then why make dog training hard, negative work for your dog? Our own experience (and much research) clearly demonstrates that a harsh approach inhibits learning and retards memory, yet many people jerk lessons into dogs and drill them until they rebel. WHY?

Anyone who doesn't know the difference between a boss and a bully shouldn't touch anything with a pulse. We’ve all had bad experiences with bullies; why pay someone to bully your dog and, even worse, make you do so?


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If you have training or behavior problems, you have several ways to get help. My audios cover the most common problems people have with dogs and cats (see the Audios page).  Direct private telephone consultations are available for only $1.00 per minute; call 858-485-7433 to set it up.


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You'll read phrases my clients and listeners call "Fetkoisms" scattered throughout this site. Periodically I'll explain what they mean and how they evolved. The point is that everything you see here is based upon vast hands-on experience and hard science.

"In dog training, Jerk is a noun, not a verb."

We’re repeatedly told that dog training requires jerking the dog’s chain choke - or even pinch - collar and to lift and shake them by the scruff of their necks and pin them on their backs. I’ve trained dogs (and many other species) all over the world for decades and was taught to use those methods nearly 40 years ago. (That’s how up-to-date they are!) But those methods are NOT necessary, nor as effective or quick as gentler methods. I haven’t jerked a collar in 20 years! All good training is based upon trust and respect; how does a social mammal trust or respect someone who jerks, hangs or pins it?

Enjoy your visit as much as I enjoy animals!


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While testifying at a California State Senate Hearing, I was asked to define abuse. One I offered: Unnecessary physical or psychological force in excess of what is required to achieve the goal. This, and others I stated, were accepted by the entire Hearing panel.

I have disabled clients and I've known severe physical compromise. If one can train dogs successfully without jerking collars, pinning, hanging or scruffing, then doing so is, by definition, abuse. Why pay someone to abuse your dog? Besides, must you really pay for that level of input? Like you’d never have thought of that on your own! When 88% of the adult dogs I’m paid to train have already been professionally trained, something's wrong. You pay good money for professional advice; get it.


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Formerly San Diego's Dispute Resolutions Officer, I’ve qualified in criminal and civil courts representing both plaintiffs and defendants as an expert in animal training and behavior, abuse, aggression, "collecting" and animal nuisances dozens of times for many years. I’m in legal demand because, with my background and extensive hands-on experience, my testimony is very difficult to rebut. Contact me if you, your attorney or someone you know is ever involved in a legal case involving animals.


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Dogs do many things well but lying isn't one of them; they're not very good at deceit. They're not always correct, but they believe the message they give you.


If you take a dog through training and it's much better on lead than off it, WHY? It's the same you, the same dog and the same command; why is it better on lead than loose? The main reason is that most training teaches the dog to fear the equipment, not respect the handler.

"Without the equipment, you can't do bad things to me - so leave a note!"

If your dog acts happier outdoors when you take the lead off than when you put it on, it’s demonstrating that the lead has come to mean dominance and discomfort, not fun, respectful lessons! BELIEVE YOUR DOG - IT'S NOT LYING! Avoidance motivation (teaching it to perform to avoid harshness) is just one technique, and not a very quick, productive or long-lasting one at that. But why teach negatively in the first place? That's not at all necessary!

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I'm familiar with hundreds of dog breeds, but what's an "outside dog?" Unless you're medically intolerant of it (and therefore can't take care of it in a medical emergency, so you shouldn't have it), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste. If it's for protection, what do you think I want to steal, your lawn? When you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard? Just what is the dog "protecting" out there? Most dogs kept out cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing, antagonism, release and poisoning. I lost count of the number of times I've heard: "NOW I know why I find so many rocks, sticks and cans in my yard! They're throwing them at my dog!" Or: "So that's why I've had to replace the padlock on the fence 17 times in the past year!" With your dog a helpless victim, it's no laughing matter.

If I'm a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not your possessions or dog. If I just open the gate 9 out of 10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare, strangle or dart it through the fence. You just lost your dog AND everything I steal! If it's tied and I keep out of its reach, it's useless. It'll bark, but outside dogs bark so much they're usually ignored. But let a dog hit the other side of a door or window I'm breaking into and I'm GONE! I can't hurt it until it can hurt me, and nothing you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.

Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive, reactive and often passive and threatens or injures no one. Aggression is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none. Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That's not protection, it's not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life today:

1) Property owners have implied social contracts with others in the community. Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and others are allowed near and at times on your property without your specific permission. Sure that ten-year-old was not supposed to jump your fence after his ball, kite or Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog are allowed to cause him injury if he does. Imagine this: A neighbor looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or your child laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog or just let you die? Great choice.

2) Even if the intruder is a felon, few places allow you or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted felons have sued the dog's owner from jail and won more in the suit than they could have stolen! Appalling but true. Don't believe your homeowners insurance will cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an "outside dog" is a no-brainer.

The more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It's easier to solve four or five indoor problems than just one outdoors. The reason is simple: The more you control the stimuli that reach the dog, the more you control its responses. You've got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your county! When it's bored but teased by every dog, cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker, backfiring truck and rabbit in the county, OF COURSE it'll dig, chew and bark. Would you sit still all day every day? Do you want unnecessary medical and parasite fees, especially as the dog ages?

When a dog is alone indoors you're still 30% there because your scent and things it associates with you constantly remind it of you and your training. When it's out, it's alone whether you're home or not. Do you expect it to keep YOU in mind while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates it?

The media are full of stories about family dogs saving everyone during a fire. How many people, including children, would be dead today if those dogs were kept out? SURE you always get up to investigate every time your yard dog barks. And I've got this bridge.....

An outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Does your dog get so much mail that it needs its own address? A real value dogs offer is as companion animals. Do you live out in your yard? Whose company does your yard dog keep and protect? Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real protection and companionship.

Bring your dogs in.

 Copyright 1993 Dennis Fetko, Ph.D. (858-442-2195). The author authorizes this article to be copied, quoted or used however it will do the most good as long as proper credit is given.

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American Dog Owners Association
American Humane Association
Animal Protection Institute of America
Arizona Animal Control Association
Cable Television Dog Adoption Programs
California Animal Control Directors Association
Canine Companions For Independence
Children's Hospital & Health Center
Clatsop County, OR, Animal Control Services
Coronado Public Library
Escondido Humane Society
lagler County Humane Society, Florida
Foundation for the Care of Indigent Animals
Friends Of County Animal Shelters
Greyhound Pets Of America
Helen Woodward Animal Care & Education Center
Humane Society Of The United States
Julian Center For Science & Education
Kentucky Humane Society
Los Angeles County Department Of Animal Care & Control
Los Angeles County Prosecutors Office
Mercy Outreach Surgical Team
National Animal Control Association
National Cat Protection Society
Operation Greyhound
Oregon Animal Control Council
Poway Unified School District
Ramona Guide Dog Project
Rancho Coastal Humane Society
San Diego County Department Of Animal Control
San Diego County Board of Supervisors
San Diego County Noise Abatement Bureau
San Diego County Search & Rescue Unit
San Diego Police Department
Scripps Ranch Public Library
Spay Neuter Action Program (SNAP)
Tufts University
Wolf Haven International
Zoological Society Of London
Zoological Society Of San Diego
ZSSD Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species
Public - radio, TV & group demonstrations & counsel

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Contact Information

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Send mail to padams@adaptive.org with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 1997 Dr. Dennis Fetko
Last modified: September 24, 2012

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