BBC One’s The One Show has been instrumental in causing a major setback for the UK’s previously highly-respected attitudes towards family dogs.
Last Friday the show featured a new segment called ‘Fix my Dog’ during which viewers were appalled to witness a small Terrier supposedly being ‘trained’ by the show’s ‘Dog Fixer’. Jordan Shelley, who has no documented history of training experience nor qualifications, repeatedly pushed his foot towards the dog and on several occasions pushed his foot into the dog’s mouth. This was justified, according to Shelley, in an effort to ‘invade the dog’s space’. The dog was provoked to bite on numerous occasions indicating extreme distress and fear behaviours that have all been widely documented and reported by the nation’s and international dog experts both on Facebook, Twitter and many blogs on this matter.
Shelley has in my opinion displayed everything that the industry is fighting to overcome. A basic and fundamental lack of understanding of dog behaviour and fear signals are at the forefront of many dog bite incidents. A complete and utter lack of qualifications when there are some excellent courses now on offer that teach such skills. Shelley himself admitted on the show that he has no formalised qualifications nor experience and is self-taught through walking a few dogs instead of studying at school. He copies his ‘hero’ Cesar Millan and although I have no respect for anyone using harsh techniques, at least Millan has better timing and is also changing his approach! Shelley later commented that he would not willingly cause distress to a dog. As we can see, he has been filmed doing this, so he must simply not understand what he is doing. I would be more than happy to sit down with him and go through it stage by stage, using the mass of resources we have available indicating body language of dogs.
Did the BBC seize the opportunity to admit their error and improve the situation? Not at all. Their comment that ‘dog lovers’ may have been upset by the show was found to be patronising and dismissive by many. If the UK’s leading trainers and behavioural organisations, not to mention the mass of rescue and welfare organisations that have complained, are to be ignored in favour of an unqualified, inexperienced self-taught person, what are the BBC actually supporting?
This is a major setback for our profession and I believe has already caused injury to those copying his confused attempts at positive punishment. We all have different ways to do things but I am heartened that we are together on this one – the way to solve this problem is to educate. Educate the BBC, educate Jordan Shelley, and use the laws we have to protect dogs from this kind of treatment to back us up.
How you can help – it’s a chance to get heard on this one so please, please help me and my colleagues to turn this into a work of goodness rather than a witch hunt. Remember that it is the behaviour we did not like, not the person. See below for links. Thank you. Karen x
Please sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/jordanshelley/
Please complain to OfCom here: (One Show Fri 16th 7pm BBC One) https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/specific-programme-epg
Please complain to the BBC here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms
And for regular updates please join the Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-Jordan-Shelley-off-BBC-One-Show/152947724795742
APBC (Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) statement ‘despair’ at methods used by Shelley
Dr Rachel Casey commented here
Dog put to sleep after copying advice given by Jordan Shelley on The One Show
Victoria Stilwell offers free trip to UK to help and declares her worry after Jordan Shelley on The One Show
Dogs Trust head of behaviour and training Lynn Barber statement of Dogs Trust concerns