Trainer Caught Beating Client’s Puppy

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A pressing reader question: What would you do if you caught a trainer hitting your dog?

A reader asks: What would you do if you caught a trainer striking your pet?

Hello Life With Dogs,

I have an infuriating issue on my hands and am not sure how to best address it. I’m seeking feedback from those who have been through anything like this. Hopefully, few people have.

My husband and I brought home a lab puppy seven months ago. We both have demanding jobs and while we have plenty of time to spend with Ryder, we can’t come up with enough time to learn how to properly train him. After seeking suggestions a friend recommended a local “puppy boot camp”, a program where you leave the dog for two weeks and bring it home once the training program is completed.

I had reservations about leaving our boy for two weeks, but the testimonials offered by this business (I am considering legal action, and my attorney has advised me not to publicly disparage the business) seemed positive and legit, so we dropped him off and expected to bring home a new, improved, well trained puppy. Our expectations were dashed when we saw Ryder again for the first time.

He was clearly despondent. Normally excited by our presence, this typically cheery dog seemed depressed. We were troubled but thought he just needed to get home. We were wrong. After he got home, Ryder would sulk, preferring to spend time alone in quiet parts of the house. He also started peeing inside again, something we had not encountered since he was four months old.

Concerned by the changes, we called the trainers to ask how things went during his stay. We were assured that he did well, learned the standard commands promised by the program, and that he had “graduated” in top form. They also recommended that we bring him back for a two day, $500 refresher course designed specifically for dogs who slipped up after returning home.

After discussing it, my husband and I agreed that a couple more days might make the difference, so Saturday we dropped him off again. We were told to return for him on Monday.

On Sunday we were discussing Ryder’s recent behavior with friends who we consider dog-savvy, and they were alarmed by the changes we’d noted in our dog since he came home. They didn’t suggest that the training program was flawed, but they did point out that some methods are incompatible with certain dogs. After hearing this, it occurred to us that we might be causing our dog undue harm.

So late that morning I drove out to the trainer’s property. I was rushing to get Ryder back and didn’t think to call ahead. It’s a fairly large, open space, and as I rounded a curve in the driveway I stopped my car when I saw my dog cowering as a man swung a leash over his head and hit him with it full force.

I have no idea how long this was happening before I arrived, but once I saw Ryder recoil when he was hit a second time I stepped on the gas and blew my horn. The man stopped and turned toward me as I sped closer to the kennel. When I got out of my car he met me and seemed unconcerned, despite my obvious rage. I demanded to know why he hit my dog. He denied doing it.

He said he was using leash “snaps” to get Ryder’s attention, and that he was just hitting the ground near the dog – not actually striking him. But Ryder was cowering in the corner of the kennel like he was trying to make himself as small as possible. I know my dog and I know what I saw. When I pressed for answers the trainer was elusive, and said unconventional dogs sometimes require unconventional techniques.

I told him I knew better and put my frightened dog in the car. I drove home in tears, riddled with guilt for putting my pet in such a stressful situation. The changes we saw in him started to make sense. He had been completely traumatized.

Now we have two issues to sort out. I need to know how we help Ryder to rebuild his confidence, and I need advice on how to handle the trainer. I wanted to take them to court for misrepresenting their services, but without photographic proof and no visible injuries on my dog, my attorney says it’s my word against theirs and is probably a long shot. I understand that, but how do I address this?

I never want another person to experience this with their dog, but my lawyer says I could be sued if I tell everyone not to do business with these people. I feel like my hands are tied and I don’t know what to do next. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Shannon Keating

0 thoughts on “Trainer Caught Beating Client’s Puppy”

  1. If you have any pictures/videos of your dog before and after I suggest making a web page, showing the pictures, describing his behavior after going through the torture he’s been through. No lab I’ve ever known needed more than the very basics – they are easy-going, loving pets. I’d go to every web site I could find, including the Attorney General of your state, sites for consumer complaints, gossip sites, pet sites, training sites and you’re damn right I would mention their name. The idea is to destroy their reputation and put them out of business. How many other dogs would you like to have this done to, how many other dogs have already suffered like this?

    As for his PTSD, make no sudden moves around him, including petting him from above his head – approach his face slowly, let him sniff your hand and caress his muzzle, stroke his chest and throat, rub his ears. If he is shying away from you when you approach, sit on the ground with some snacks and WAIT for him to come to you, speak in soft tones always.

    If I had witnessed what you did, it would have taken every effort not to blow the guys brains out. This outfit is clearly out to make money and has NO idea how to train, or even treat dogs.

    If you have no time to spend with your dog, why do you have a dog?

  2. There was a dog training program in Colorado Springs, CO a few years ago that it was discovered that everything was FAKE..the website reviews, certificates on his walls, training, everything was FAKE. Was also discovered by an owner who someone found her dog who was supposedly boarded there for training running around and called her..he left town quickly..I am so glad when the “alarms” starting ringing you listened and went to rescue your dog…lawyers will always steer you in the safest legal pathway. Notify your local Humane Society, other trainers/shelters/vets, I think you can speak about what you personally witnessed, you may find others with the same opinion.

  3. You are a “Certified Dog Trainer” and left your dogs with someone that scared her so badly she peed herself within the first minutes of meeting her? Really? Beacuse it was a well know place by celebrities? What the he** do celebrities know about traing a dog? Seriously??? What the he** is wrong with you!!!!

    • Anonymous…you need to go far away – very very far away….people like you are part of the problem negative know it alls…and your half brained – when Shannon left her dogs there, she was not yet a trainer….another STUPID human…take your insults and snide remarks and go cruise Craigslist or something.

  4. My heart hurts reading your story and the insensitive remarks. I have no credentials other than having dogs the past 18 years. Mine aren’t as trained as they could be, and I’ve had jobs that have taken me and my late husband away from home more hours than we wanted. At the most, we had four dogs together. They played and scampered and fought like siblings. It did help the loneliness of having just one.
    My only girl had been beat with a hairbrush and who knows what else. It took me years to get her to trust me.
    At the very least, report this business to the Better Business Bureau. I had to do that with my lawyer that was settling my late husband’s estate. She dragged her feet and I was weary of not hearing back as promised and the case not being settled. I filed online and the lawyer called me the following week. (Imagine that.) She fought against me, but the complaint stayed against her for three years. And I told her if things weren’t settled quickly, I would report her to the local and state bar association. It didn’t cost me anything, but the case was settled and she had to live with this stain on her record.
    Best wishes to you and Ryder.

  5. I am so sorry to hear what
    You and Ryder went through, I am sure with re-assurance he will bounce back. We are lab lovers so this hit us hard no animal should be treated like that. We would never leave our labs with anyone because we were afraid of mistreatment, but there are very good people out there. Please keep us updated on his progress.


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