After the excitement of Britain’s Got Talent dog training winners Jules and Matisse, the press erupted with a supposed shock for the poor ‘hapless voters’. The dog that climbed over the tightrope was not the collie, Matisse, but another of Jules’ dogs from her large menagerie.
Did it matter that the dogs looked alike but that one had a different skill to the other so that they were swapped? Were viewers genuinely upset at the switch? And finally, was it fair to ‘hoodwink’ viewers?
Personally I was impressed by Jules’ training ability with all her dogs. We had seen them all together in the story part of the show, where contestants are introduced. More than one dog had been used previously, so no big surprise there. How could someone feel tricked?
My response is simple. Did the complainers also think the magician (who came second in the voting) had a real magic lemon, or that he genuinely conjured a helicopter onto the stage? I won’t spoil the tricks by telling you how they were done, but they were pretty standard.
Unlike this, the doggy team that won were very skilled indeed. No tricks – only longterm, clever training.
On a more positive note, I went to American animal trainer Ken Ramirez’s course at Yorkshire Wildlife Park this week. Ken has trained many species including dogs – dolphins, sea lions, otters, tigers, even butterflies!
In contrast to these wild, undomesticated creatures, the humble dog is usually keen to be with us, likes to eat, enjoys playing or uses his nose so is fairly easy to motivate. Even so, Ken and a team of 5 professional trainers spent 7 sessions every day for 2 and a half YEARS teaching some dogs who had had previous problems, to overcome the issues they had.
I am a professional trainer, teaching people and their dogs every day to not develop these problems. Taking your dog to puppy classes with a decent, experienced trainer is a pre-requisite to learn how to manage this species. One course is not enough. It’s like leaving school after reception class and expecting to find a job! If you aren’t prepared to train your dog for at least two years, then maybe a dog is not for you. If you give up easily, you could find yourself with years of expensive work for resulting problems.
The streets are populated with dogs that cannot socialise with others. I know, because I see them at work in behaviour consultations along with unhappy owners. In fact, everyone is sad when the dog has issues, especially the dog! The truth is not comfortable I’m afraid, and dogs are put to sleep every day for behaviour problems. Let’s make sure ours are well-prepared. Let’s invest in them.
Back to the animal training course I attended. At the end of each day, the lions in the wildlife park roared so loudly that they drowned out Ken’s microphone. A fitting reminder that the world is a big, big place!
What did you think about the BGT doggy switch? Did it upset or affect you, or did you think the Magic Lemon was after all, just a fruit with a hole in the end (whoops, sorry). Add your comments here: