Defining Dog Whispering | Letters | Chicago Reader

Defining Dog Whispering 

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Dear editor,

I have to say I was more than a little disturbed by Ami Moore's letter last week [March 10] in response to your article on pit bulls ("Born Bad?" February 24). Ms. Moore's contention that her training methods had been misrepresented or misunderstood lies at the core of a greater issue of how dog trainers use various methods and throw around various terms describing their methodologies.

Full disclosure: I was a recent client (January 2006) of Ms. Moore's, which resulted in a very unpleasant experience for my family and our dog. Suffice it to say that our dog is a gentle, well-tempered, totally nonaggressive younger female mixed breed (cattle dog, small shepherd) with no pit bull. Our motivating factor in choosing Ms. Moore was her self-promotion as Chicago's "Dog Whisperer." As many dog owners know, this term is closely associated with positive reinforcement training and has a national profile from such programs as the National Geographic channel's Dog Whisperer as well as the best-selling book The Dog Whisperer by Paul Owens. Neither of these trainers advocates the use of electronic collars.

I have no interest in debating the merits of training using an electronic collar. I'm sure, when used properly, they have their place. What I do take issue with, however, is Ms. Moore's association with this type of training method as a positive, reward-based approach. In her letter she writes that the collar is "used as a reward for good behavior, just as one would use cookies, kisses, or hugs to tell a dog that he is a 'good boy.'" Ms. Moore can't have it both ways. On her own Web site (, which she references in her letter) she lists one of her "Three Universal Dog Training Rules: When your dog does something that you don't like, then make nasty things happen for the dog."

Aram Manyan

Independence Park

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