Proposed Jeff Gellman seminar in New Zealand 2020
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers New Zealand Inc (APDTNZ) has released the attached Position Statement in relation to an impending visit by Mr. Jeff Gellman, a United States based dog trainer who intends to come to New Zealand in 2020 to conduct a dog training seminar in Auckland.
The APDTNZ contends that a number of Mr. Gellman’s training methods amount to animal abuse and cruelty. Our members deal on a daily basis with the fallout of those owners and trainers who utilise punitive punishment methods. They are concerned that should Mr. Gellman teach and demonstrate his methods in New Zealand, it will further validate and perpetuate the old fashioned myth that a heavy hand is required to train an animal and that hitting or hurting a dog is an appropriate way to teach a behaviour.
Video of the type of behaviour that Mr. Gellman promotes can be found in the link below
Mr. Gellman’s theory regarding his “bonking” method is not supported by any reputable animal behaviourist and as stated in our position statement, is fundamentally dangerous. There are many appropriately peer reviewed studies confirming that abusive training methods can inhibit the normal warning signals that animals give when they are stressed or afraid. Often the outcome is that when the animal reaches its tolerance threshold, a full-on defence response is initiated. This is the reason that so many dogs resort to snapping or biting “out of the blue”.
Mr. Gellman’s approach of placing the dogs in a situation that they find stressful then inflicting pain and frightening them so that they shut down does not provide a reliable long-term behaviour changing outcome and destroys the bond between dog and owner.
Mr. Gellman’s claims that people come to him as a last resort to fix their dogs as an alternative to euthanising them is marketing hype to provide some justification for the extreme methods he promotes. He seduces owners who are struggling with normal dog behaviours with the lure of a quick fix verses the emotional weight of them thinking they need to put their dog to sleep.
All of the issues Mr. Gellman’s method is supposed to address can be managed, and behaviour improved, through more humane, force free means. These are the same means that are utilised successfully by progressive domestic animal and wild animal trainers worldwide.
Behaviour is complex and is driven by the many different internal and external factors relevant to that animal in that situation. Fixing an undesirable behaviour is not a simple as just correcting one behaviour on one single occasion. Mr. Gellman’s subsequent claim that "I fixed the problem in one second with a cotton towel” indicates his lack of understanding of behaviour modification.